Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120
MONDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2002
120. This £10 million a year you have for
the Custody to Work unit is a drop in the ocean, is it not?
(Mr Narey) Yes, it is a drop in the ocean.
121. Would you agree that apart from education
and training, having a job to go to directly when you walk out
of the door or education and training when you walk out of the
door has the single greatest impact?
(Mr Narey) I would. I do not think your friend and
I are in conflict. He is saying he wants people to get jobs and
I am taking one step back from that and thinking how do you get
people jobs, you get them some qualifications.
122. On the chart at Appendix 4 on page 52,
it talks about the range in the number of hours spent on average
on purposeful activity. Within one category, let us take male
Category C prisoners, it ranges from 54 hours down to 16 hours.
That is a huge variation, it is more than three times better,
the best performing prison, compared with the worst performing
prison within one category. How do you account for such a huge
(Mr Narey) I can account for the outliers, first of
all. Kirklevington and Blantyre House at the top are both resettlement
prisons where prisoners are generally going out to work, leaving
the prison every day. Coldingley was built as what is called an
industrial prison and most prisoners are there in full-time work
which tries to reproduce work and so forth. Even if I take away
the outliers and take, for example, immigration detainees, there
is a very, very significant range. We are trying to bring that
in line. I am anxious to try to bring the poor ones up to the
level of the better ones. Over recent years that is where we have
been directing most of our investment. For example, The Mount
and Highpoint have received quite a lot of investment in recent
years in the areas which we have discussed to try to make a difference.
123. When would you expect to see them starting
to move up to the level nearer to the average?
(Mr Narey) For the reasons which we have discussed
it will be some time and some considerable investment away before
I have a considerable merging of that range. I would need to have
a very, very good outcome from the current spending review to
be able to significantly increase purposeful activity principallyI
stressbecause although I have increased purposeful activity
by many millions of hours in recent years, the denominator keeps
increasing just as fast.
124. If I can return to something Mr Osborne
asked about earlier in Part 2, paragraph 2.4, which talks about
the fact that the Prison Service has no plans to publish re-conviction
rates at prison or area level. It goes on to say in the next paragraph
that you do not believe that the publication of such data would
be useful or meaningful because prisoners are moving around so
much. If you take a Category C prison of the kind that we were
looking at in the chart here, I appreciate that there is movement
around particularly local prisons where people arrive first of
all but how much movement within a male Category C prison of the
kind you have been describing would go on within one category?
(Mr Narey) Much more than I would like. I know this
morning, for example, 150 prisoners or so alone have been moved
from Category C prisons where they may be doing perfectly well
and may, indeed, be involved into education courses simply to
fill spaces in open prisons because the pressures of population
are such that I have to fill every bed. Sometimes that means moving
prisoners down to lower security prisoners, sometimes it just
means moving prisoners between one Category C prison and another
but perhaps moving them 200 miles up or down country. It is tragic.
125. I think you have got the Committee's sympathy
because you have got an extremely difficult job. Could I ask you
to write to me about the total amount of money that you spend
on what could be broadly called "reducing prisoner reoffending
(Mr Narey) Certainly.
126. Secondly, about the scope and the extent
of volunteering, particularly for basic things like literacy and
numeracy and the way in which that has grown over the last ten
years and the way in which you would expect it to grow or are
planning it to grow in the period ahead.
(Mr Narey) I would be very happy to do that.
Chairman: Thank you, Mr Bacon. Mr Davies?
127. We have got a prison population of around
70,000 you said and its budget is about £2 billion. Am I
right in saying in ball park terms it costs about £30,000
a year to keep people in prison?
(Mr Narey) Including all headquarters' costs and on
costs it is about £34,000 per prisoner per year.
128. Would you agree with the proposition that
the key to reducing reoffending by released prisoners is a combination
of the factors of accommodation, work and social networks? My
understanding is that for the last 50 years people have regarded
these as the three issues to consider, namely the maintenance
of social networks, the delivery of housing and accommodation
after going to prison and the provision of work as soon as possible
(Mr Narey) I would agree with that.
129. I want to pursue those areas with you.
My understanding iscorrect me if I am wrongthe Prison
Service has got no targets relating to accommodation needs in
terms of after prison but that there is an initial grant. That
is correct, is it not?
(Mr Narey) For accommodation?
(Mr Narey) There is a very inadequate grant given
as a discharge grant which, I might add, is my attempt to bridge
a significant problem with the benefits system. When prisoners
leave custody they get no benefits for two weeks. I give them
the equivalent of about a week's benefit which costs me many millions
of pounds. In my view it is barmy, quite frankly, not to give
people moving from prison benefits so that they might not reoffend
immediately on going out. That is all I can give them and that
is more than I can afford. We do not have a target for accommodation,
we have just given a direction to all prisons to set up resettlement
committees, to put someone in charge of resettlement with a very
strong focus on either maintaining accommodation or obtaining
it, and we have some success stories. We do have a target for
getting people into jobs which we are just developing.
131. Do you know what proportion of inmates,
as it were, become homeless after discharge?
(Mr Narey) My colleague may find the figures for that.
132. I will go on while he is looking. Obviously
this is of some significance. In terms of social networks obviously,
again, maintenance of family networks, avoiding the disintegration
of support of family around the prisoner is crucial, as you know,
to stopping reoffending and yet the Prison Service has no target
for the proportion of prisoners near to home, and something like
25,000 prisoners are held over 50 miles from home and 11,000 over
100 miles. Do you not think that this is a major contributor towards
reoffending that should be looked at?
(Mr Narey) I think it can be and we do measure our
closeness to home very regularly. I would love it if we could
get prisoners closer to home but, for reasons which I think I
have explained, the population makes that sometimes very, very
difficult. It is important. I do not happen to think it is absolutely
vital. If, God forbid, my son was in custody, I would be willing
to sacrifice closeness to home if I thought that he was in an
institution which properly catered for his particular needs. Sometimes
we have institutions which do a very good job wherever they come
133. What I am getting at is in the case of
your son, you would want to be able to visit him. Obviously you
would have the facility to do so, I appreciate that. For most
people being near to mum and dad or whatever is very important
at the time they are thrust into incarceration where you can be
led astray by various people, etc. Would you not agree with that?
(Mr Narey) I would agree with that. All things being
equal I would always try and get prisoners closer to home. I do
provide a great deal of assistance and, again, not from the Benefits
Agency budget but from mine, anybody who is receiving benefit
can get the cost of their travel, either by public transport or
car, to visit loved ones refunded.
134. Obviously the funding of loved ones, 11,000
over 100 miles away and 25,000 over 50 miles away, you will spend
a lot of money to get reasonable frequency of visits. Can I ask,
prisons are made up of men or women in the norm, so in the case
of men have you any evidence to suggest that being a long way
from the family home has correlated with high divorce rates? Is
that level of statistic available?
(Mr Narey) I do not have any evidence.
135. Can anybody look at this or is it too complicated?
(Mr Narey) I do not have any evidence for that. Clearly
one of the very negative aspects of imprisonment is that it can
put a grave strain on family relationships and marriages. I suspect
that probably happens irrespective of whether the prisoner is
very close to home.
136. There is a difference between a man being
able to have his children and wife visit him, say, once a week
rather than once every few months because they have not got any
money and all the money is being spent on the kids.
(Mr Narey) There is although, as I have explained,
I can help with the cost of visiting.
137. Do you not think there should be a target
within the Prison Service to try and encourage this factor, given
that it has been established as a principle of the Prison Service
for 50 years that family networks are important in terms of avoiding
(Mr Narey) As I have stressed, it is not one of our
key targets but we do look at closeness to home. I would like
people to be close to home. Just to balance that, I might point
out that somebody can be very close to their family, they can
be in a local prison, but the visiting experience in a local prison,
although it might be nearby, will be pretty poor. In a training
prison, it might be a train journey away or a coach ride away
but it is likely to be much more welcoming because it is likely
to be for perhaps two hours rather than half an hour, it is likely
to have a decent visitor centre with a creche facility. It is
not entirely straight forward. Sometimes I think families probably
think they benefit from visiting their loved one in a training
prison even though it is a bit further away from home.
138. Now for women, of course, it is much worse
than men both because there are smaller estates, there are less
options and women tend to be more responsible for child care.
Have you assembled any evidence of the impact of the location
of women on the behaviour of their children and subsequent offending
by those children? In other words, do you think that by giving
them the opportunity to live closer to home and see their children
more often, you might ultimately reduce the future of the prison
(Mr Narey) I do not have any evidence of that. I believe
instinctively that must be the case.
139. On the issue of exclusions, I was shocked
to hear your figure of 75 per cent of inmates have been excluded.
I think that is what you essentially said.
(Mr Narey) That is what I said.
11 Ref footnote to Q 117. Back