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Baroness Blatch: Discussions take place with voluntary organisations from time to time but there has been no formal consultation to find alternatives to detention. We will always be prepared to consider any proposals that may be made on this subject but the Government are in no doubt that the limited use of detention is a necessary support to the implementation of our firm but fair immigration policy.
Baroness Blatch: It is Immigration Service policy to allow legal representatives to visit detainees in immigration detention centres, without prior appointment, at any time between 9am and 9pm any day of the week, and private interview rooms are provided.
Baroness Blatch: It is already normal Immigration Service practice to inform the legal representatives of detainees of any planned move. However, it is not always possible to do this in advance where a transfer has to be effected quickly for operational reasons. In these cases, the representatives are informed as soon as practically possible.
Baroness Blatch: There is a distinction between foreign prisoners serving a sentence following conviction of a criminal offence and those detained under Immigration Act powers pending removal. Both Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons hold foreign prisoners on sentence and remand but Pentonville does not hold any prisoners under the Immigration Act.
The deportation process for convicted foreign prisoners is under constant review to ensure that it operates efficiently and effectively. The overriding aim is for removal to proceed directly a prisoner has completed his sentence. However, delays can and do arise from time to time which are outside the department's control, for example because of delays pending an appeal hearing, and it may be necessary for a convicted prisoner to remain in a prison such as Pentonville or Wandsworth following completion of sentence while these issues are being dealt with.
Those held from the outset under Immigration Act powers are in a different category. It is accepted that we should seek to accommodate such detainees separately from convicted and remand prisoners and it is proposed to locate all such detainees in five designated establishments in future. It is planned that, by the end of May,
Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about how many of the 200 places reserved for Immigration Act detainees in Rochester prison have been in use since the end of March 1995 and when all places will be in use.
The establishment, in consultation with the Immigration Service, is in the process of filling the additional places. This is being done gradually so as to prevent any disruption which might be caused by a sudden influx of large numbers and to ensure that a proper degree of care is provided to the detainees.
Implementation of the proposals announced last June to concentrate Immigration Act detainees in fewer Prison Service establishments is largely complete. All detainees held in Prison Service establishments solely on immigration grounds will be held in designated centres at Birmingham, Haslar, Rochester and Holloway. It is hoped to complete this by mid-June. There are currently some 20 detainees awaiting transfer to a designated centre.
Baroness Blatch: The initial decision to detain is reviewed regularly and at progressively more senior levels within the Immigration Service. There is provision for any detainee who has an appeal outstanding or who has been detained for more than seven days pending further examination to apply to the independent appellate authorities for bail. In addition, detention may be challenged in the courts and bail may be sought once a case is before the courts on an application for judicial review.
Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the population of each local prison on 17 May 1995, the certified normal accommodation of each such prison and the percentage overcrowding on that date.
|Establishment||CNA Available for Use||Population||Percentage Overcrowding (%)|
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