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11 Jun 2002 : Column 1243W
Hilary Benn: Prisoners with mental health problems can be cared for in the health care centre at Wolds prison, which provides for up to 16 in-patients. A number of the nurses caring for these patients are specifically qualified to work with mentally ill prisoners. A psychiatrist visits the prison on a weekly basis to provide psychological and counsellor support to those within the health care centre and on normal location. Wolds prison also works very closely with agencies to provide secure hospital accommodation and mental health community support for those prisoners being discharged.
Hilary Benn: The review has so far involved a number of regional visits to coroners and meetings with the public, as well as with the Department for Health, the Retained Organs Commission, the Lord Chancellor's Department, the Judicial Studies Board and other relevant organisations. Time has also been spent in Northern Ireland, and review team members have attended Home Office-run coroner training events. The review team hope to issue a consultation on document shortly.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the staff employed in Brixton prison in each year since 1996 have formerly been members of the security services in Northern Ireland. 
Hilary Benn: Information on the earlier careers of prison staff is not held in the form required and would necessitate examining around 1,300 files, and interviewing several hundred staff, many of whom no longer work for the Prison Service. This could be done only at disproportionate cost.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action has been taken to ensure that the sabotage of cell bell alarm systems identified by the Chief Inspector of Prisons in his inspection of HMP Brixton on 26 to 29 June 2000 is not repeated. 
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Hilary Benn: New procedures were put in place following the inspection to ensure the cell call bells remain in working order. The cell call system is checked daily by wing staff and night orderlies. No reports of a failure of the system have been reported since the new procedure was introduced.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what disciplinary action has been taken against those involved in the sabotage of cell bell alarm systems identified in the inspection by the Chief Inspector of Prisons of HMP Brixton on 26 to 29 June 2000. 
Hilary Benn: Despite investigation, no member of staff has been identified as being responsible for sabotaging the cell call bell system at Brixton prison. It has not, therefore been possible to take any disciplinary action.
Hilary Benn: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply my hon. Friend Minister of State, Home Office (Beverley Hughes) gave my hon. Friend, the Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) on 21 May 2002, Official Report, column 268W, which explained that a review is to be conducted into the deaths of Irish prisoners at Brixton since 1998. There were no such deaths between 1996 and 1998.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the deployment of prison staff now in charge of Irish prisoners who have served in the security forces in Northern Ireland. 
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received in the last six months from the Irish Government, Irish community organisations and individuals on the deaths of Irish prisoners in British prisons; and what action he has taken as a result. 
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to include an Irish category based on CRE guidelines in the system for ethnic monitoring in Her Majesty's prisons. 
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Hilary Benn: The Commission for Race Equality's (CRE) "Ethnic MonitoringA Guide for Public Authorities" recommends adopting the ethnic categories used in the 2001 Census and this incorporates the use of an Irish category. All civil service Departments were required by the Cabinet Office to undertake an ethnicity re-classification exercise. The format for the classifications was provided to reflect the latest census classification. The Prison Service are in the process of adopting the Census 2001 categories.
An ethnicity re-classification exercise of all Prison Service staff was undertaken in October 2001. Every member of staff was asked to complete a questionnaire which allowed their ethnic origin to be recorded in a category as provided for in the 2001 Census. Arrangements are also being made to update.
Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of the trend in the number of court cases that are adjourned one or more times, and the effect that these adjournments have on other parts of the court service. 
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Sample surveys of magistrates court cases show that the proportion of defendants whose cases were adjourned in these courts fell from 50 per cent. in 1997 to 44 per cent. in 2001. In the magistrates courts a joint monitoring scheme with the Crown Prosecution Service and other criminal justice agencies began on 1 April 2002, to collect data for all adjourned trials, including the number of previous adjournments. The first quarterly figures will be published in July 2002. The Crown court also has a national monitoring scheme for adjourned trials. Data from both sources will inform a research project, planned to start later this year, into the effect of trial adjournments.
Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what proportion of cases in magistrates courts involving young people as a defendant (a) went ahead at the first hearing, (b) were adjourned once before the case is heard and (c) were adjourned more than once before the case is heard in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
During last year, 26 per cent. of young defendants had their cases completed at the first listing, 23 per cent. had one adjournment and 51 per cent. were adjourned more than once. These figures are taken from sample surveys, so total numbers are not available.