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Prisons: Faith-based Courses

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Comprehensive records of faith-based offending-related courses in prisons are not currently held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, Sycamore Tree, a Christian-based course on victim awareness accredited by the Open College Network, is delivered through the chaplaincy in 37 prisons. Two prisons, Swaleside and the Verne, operate Kainos Communities, which are Christian-based and incorporate rehabilitative and therapeutic programmes.

Sycamore Tree is a restorative justice programme developed by Prison Fellowship, a registered charity, to help prisoners to accept responsibility for personal action towards their victims and the community. It is based on Christian values such as truth, integrity and responsibility but does not explicitly promote faith and is open to adherents of any or no faith tradition. The aim of the programme is to change prisoners' behaviour and attitudes. Two types of evaluation are used. CRIME-PICS II is used at the beginning and end of the programme to monitor attitudinal change and prisoners also complete a Prison Fellowship end of programme evaluation form. Prison Fellowship
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advises that approximately 500 prisoners have attended the programme since 1 April 2004. Alternative victim awareness courses are available at some prisons. Improved information will become available centrally from a database being established under Prison Service Order (PSO) 4350 on effective regime interventions.

Kainos Communities involve prisoners living for between six and 18 months as part of a supportive community with group work, where they can discuss their current and offending-related behaviour and learn to take responsibility for their own actions and deal with conflict without violence, as well as having access to other courses. Kainos accepts applications from any prisoner regardless of race or religion. The objectives are to create a safe living environment where prisoners can improve their social functioning and employability. Data are collected to determine whether a prisoner is making progress or if he is violating community standards and staff complete evaluation reports on each course attended. There have been 52 Kainos completions at Swaleside in 2004 and 40 at the Verne. Kainos at both prisons are seeking validation through their respective area managers under PSO 4350.

The multi-faith chaplaincy teams also run a range of religious education classes and courses.

Prison Suicides: Joseph Scholes

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Joseph Scholes died aged 16 at Stoke Heath young offender institution on 24 March 2002 while serving a two-year detention and training order. A coroner's inquest on 30 April 2004 returned a verdict of "Accidental death in part contributed to because the risk was not properly recognised and appropriate precautions were not taken to prevent it". The jury stated that, on the evidence presented, the care given to Joseph at Stoke Heath by medical, nursing and other prison staff was appropriate, but that they considered unsuitable the safer clothing provided for Joseph.

Prison Service policy is that normal clothing must not be removed from at-risk prisoners as a matter of course, but as necessary for the immediate safety of the prisoner, and then for the shortest time possible. During his first four days at Stoke Heath, while Joseph was located in the healthcare centre in a cell that had elements of safer cell design and was covered by CCTV, it was considered necessary, for his own protection, for Joseph to wear safer (or protective) clothing. He was not wearing such clothing at the time of his death.

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Paul Goggins), announced on 16 September (Hansard col. 159WS) measures taken
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to ensure that matters raised by the coroner in this case received further consideration. These included the appointment of David Lambert, a former Chief Inspector of Social Services, to examine operational issues on the inquest identified. Mr Lambert's remit includes the appropriateness of safer cell clothing for young offenders at risk of self-harm.

There have been a number of key improvements in the care of juveniles in prisons and my honourable friend has made clear his intention to share with Mrs Scholes the learning from this tragic case.

Prison Suicides: Unfurnished and Safer Cells

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government do not believe that the use of unfurnished cells (the preferred term) or safer cells (the term used) violates Article 3. An unfurnished (or special) cell is a cell from which the usual furniture has been removed and which is either totally unfurnished or does not contain basic items of furniture such as a table and chair. Its use is carefully circumscribed and regulated, with safeguards in place. This accommodation is not used as a punishment but for the temporary confinement of a violent or refractory prisoner if it is judged necessary to try to prevent the prisoner injuring another prisoner or staff, damaging property, creating a disturbance, or from self-injury.

Prison Service policy is that prisoners identified as being at risk of suicide or self-harm should not be placed in an unfurnished cell, unless in exceptional circumstances they are additionally identified as violent or refractory. In such cases, prisons are required to decide on the appropriate supervision measures to be in place to ensure the safety of the prisoner during the period they remain in that accommodation. Guidelines are being developed to reinforce the need to exhaust all alternative methods of care in such cases before resorting to the use of an unfurnished cell.

Safer cells are cells which have specially designed furniture and fixtures which are manufactured and installed to make the attachment of ligatures very difficult, and access to window bars prevented via non-opening windows with integral ventilation grills. The design of these cells can help prisoners and assist staff to manage those distressed prisoners at particular risk of attempting to kill themselves through impulsive acts.

All prisoners identified at risk of suicide or self-harm are cared for through the use of a care planning system (currently being reviewed with piloted changes)
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that aims to provide each prisoner with an individual support plan to meet their needs. This occurs regardless of the type of accommodation they are located in. Such plans might include the utilisation of special support for any mental health and/or drugs/alcohol problems, use of regime activities, problem solving around any personal safety issues, strengthening ties with or re-engaging with family, peer support, or help with resettlement issues.

Military Training: Privately Owned Land

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): I have assumed that the noble Lord is referring to all landowners rather than farmers specifically in his question. Information on the approximate total area of land on which landowners permit military training to take place and the total number of sites involved is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost. I can, however, provide estimates of the approximate number of landowners and general location of sites where military training is permitted to take place in the table below. It should be noted that arrangements for military training are covered by a variety of means ranging from formal leases to periodic ad hoc agreements with landowners and are liable to change on an annual basis.

The impact of the loss of opportunities for training on private land is being considered. We would seek to mitigate any major potential adverse effects by relocating a significant amount of this training to MoD-owned land. However, it is too early to assess the full effects of withdrawal of landowners' permissions to the MoD as a whole.
Location of sitesApproximate Number of
Northern England (Northumberland, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Humberside, Lancashire, Cheshire)2,000
East England (Cambridgeshire, Rutland, Derbyshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk)100
South-east (Kent, Berkshire, Oxon, Hampshire, Oxford, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, East Wiltshire, Isle of Wight, Milton Keynes, Dorset, Somerset)100
South-west England (Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Avon, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall)220
Northern Ireland6

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