Examination of witnesses
(Questions 20 - 30)|
and MRS TERESA
20. I think it has got to
(Ms Jackson) It
is a safety point.
21. I wish to follow this
up and ask why the rule does not expressly indicate the mischief
and the initiative of the officer as restrictions on the ambit
of the prohibition? That is a slightly technical question and
I will read it again. I am asking you why the rule does not expressly
indicate the mischief and the initiative of the officer as restrictions
on the ambit of the prohibition?
(Mr Middleton) The
explanation for the drafting is simply that it is identically
worded to the young offender institution rules which in turn are
identically worded to the prison rules. Both those sets of rules
have been in existence for many years. We are implementing a set
of rules for a new group of institutions and to the extent that
we are dealing with similar circumstances we have obviously drawn
on the existing legislation.
22. So your explanation is
that the rules have been in force in other areas and that really
it is a sensible and normal procedure to transpose this set of
rules on to the new structure? Is the mischief then jeopardising
the security of the centre? Is that the mischief?
(Mr Middleton) It
could be but it is not only that. I think it is more directed
at relationships that could be detrimental to the functioning
of the services if the officers are maintaining improper relationships
with trainees or in YOIs with young offenders or in prisons with
23. If your defence is that
this is in the prison rules why did you not tell us that in your
memorandum, it would have been a lot simpler, would it not?
(Mr Middleton) Our
experience has been that the Committee does not normally regard
it as a defence to explain something by reference to the drafting
of previous legislation.
24. It at least would have
been sensible to draw it to our attention.
(Mr Middleton) I
think it was mentioned at one point in the memorandum that we
were following the young offender institution rules. We did mention
it in relation to the second question. We did not specifically
say that in fact a lot of the rules are based on the YOI rules.
I think the implication is there in the memorandum.
Rosemary McKenna: If
there are no further questions on this specific issue?
Chairman: Just a moment.
I think Lord Skelmersdale has a question.
25. One of the things you
said in one of your responses was that the rule was not intended
to prohibit casual conversation that is not initiated by the officer,
and presumably having written it you stand by that. Where in the
rules does it say that? How is the officer to know that is your
(Mr Middleton) Through
(Mrs Burnhams) There
will be procedures which the contractor has in place for his staff
and this will feature in those. There will be instructions to
staff about how they have to report such occasions.
26. I see. Does this already
happen elsewhere, in the Prison Service for example?
(Mr Middleton) Indeed,
27. I do not want to labour
this point, I know Mrs McKenna wants to move on to something else,
but when you talk of improper relationship what is the impropriety,
(Ms Jackson) It
is difficult to define. It could be any relationship. At the worst
end I suppose it could be a relationship that is in some way to
the detriment or potential harm of the young person. That is essentially
what we are talking about. It is a protection issue. On the other
side there is the issue of protection of the security at the centre
but that is a separate issue.
Rosemary McKenna: If
there was no rule then there would be no way, I think, of protecting
the young person. I think there has to be something written down.
I think our concern would be that it is maybe not specific enough.
I do think it is important that there is a regulation and there
is a comment there that does protect the young person because
they must be able to report some complaint. There must be a mechanism
for them being able to report this fact. I think we are perhaps
getting bogged down in the mechanics without it being absolutely
specific. It is important that it is there and probably that it
is wide enough to cover any possibility that would protect the
young person as well as the officer.
28. Comments on that, Ms
(Ms Jackson) No.
I agree with what you have said. That is certainly what its intention
is, part of what its intention is.
29. May I just return for
a moment to the improper relationship. It is not for me to put
words into your mouth but is it perhaps that you are also thinking
about the security of the centre, that it jeopardises the security
of the centre, an improper relationship?
(Ms Jackson) Yes.
Certainly, as we said, that would be one of the concerns, that
it is about the security of the centre indeed.
30. So there are three things:
the security of the centre in general; the security of the young
offender; and the security of the individual officer?
(Mr Middleton) Yes.
Chairman: Thank you very
much. Are there any further questions from colleagues?
Rosemary McKenna: No,
but can I just make a comment. I think we should welcome very
much the movement by the Home Secretary in terms of the fact that
the custody officers should always be of the same sex. I think
that is really important.
Chairman: We have to
be careful that we do not stray into policy.
Rosemary McKenna: I understand
that. We did raise this question and I think there has been a
Chairman: On behalf of
the Committee many thanks for coming along this afternoon. It
has been very helpful to have your explanation. We wish you well.