Previous Section Index Home Page

25 Mar 2009 : Column 420W—continued

National Offender Management Information System

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice which private sector prisons have access to Prison-NOMIS. [264667]

Mr. Straw: Prison-NOMIS will be deployed to public prisons from spring 2009 to summer 2010. Following on from that roll-out, the needs of the contracted-out prisons (COPs) will be addressed. The approach to individual COPs may vary depending on their own internal IT systems and either Prison-NOMIS could be deployed to a COP or an interface with the COP's existing case management system and Prison-NOMIS could be established.

Provided that adequate additional funding was made available, all COPs would gain access to Prison-NOMIS by one means or another. Consequently, there would be no detraction from public safety.

Offenders: Ex-servicemen

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what systems of identification and support the Probation Service operates for offenders who have previously served in the armed forces. [265825]

Mr. Hanson: There is currently no dedicated identification system for ex-servicemen and women under Probation supervision. This will change with the introduction of P-NOMIS which contains specific data entry field for ex-service offenders. In the interim, we will send out a notice under a Probation circular to highlight services provided by ex veterans charities, and support available as part of the veterans prison in-reach initiative.

Prison Sentences

David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many recategorisation reviews for Category A prisoners (a) have been undertaken and (b) involved an oral hearing in each year since 2000. [265978]

25 Mar 2009 : Column 421W

Mr. Hanson: Category A prisoners have their categorisation reviewed once yearly by staff at the prison in which they are held. Every five years their categorisation will be subject to a formal review by the Director of High Security. The exact number of reviews is not centrally recorded. There has only been one oral hearing which was held in 2002.

Prison Service: Manpower

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2009, Official Report, column 994W, on prisons: manpower, how many prison officers at each grade there were in each prison in England and Wales on 31 March in each year from 1997 to 2004. [265829]

Mr. Malik: Information on the number of officers in each establishment (public and private sector), by grade, in each year from 1997 to 2004 has been placed in both Libraries of the House.

Prison Service: Vetting

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether people applying to become (a) prison officers and (b) other prison service staff are required to have a Criminal Records Bureau check. [266170]

Mr. Hanson: Criminal record checks are undertaken for all staff (prison officers and other staff) working in prison establishments. Criminal Records Bureau disclosure checks are undertaken on all staff working with young persons under the age of 18.

Prisons: Alcoholic Drinks

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of (a) the number and (b) the proportion of prisoners diagnosed with alcohol problems in each prison in England and Wales, in each of the last 10 years. [265702]

Mr. Hanson: A number of studies have provided a picture of the alcohol-related problems experienced by those entering prisons:

25 Mar 2009 : Column 422W

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much has been spent on services countering the effects of alcohol in prisons in each of the last 10 years. [265827]

Mr. Hanson: A range of interventions are available in prisons to support those with an alcohol problem:

The Ministry of Justice has established a working group to develop proposals to increase the provision of alcohol treatment available in prisons. The number of prisoners accessing services specifically aimed at their alcohol misuse is not collated centrally.

Prisons: Activities

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he plans to take consequent on the assessment in the latest annual report of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons that activity levels are still not high enough in nearly half of training prisons. [265703]

Mr. Hanson: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons annual report 2007-08 called for increases in activity. It also acknowledged that there has already been an overall improvement. During the period 2005-08, the number of hours per prisoner per week increased from 26.1 to 28 hours in Category B prisons and 25.9 to 26.1 hours in Category C prisons.

The National Offender Management Service, in partnership with the Learning and Skills Council, is working to improve education and training provision by prioritising activities according to individual learner need and on focusing on activities which develop skills for employment. Efficiencies to maximise the take up of education and training places will increase purposeful activity hours.

We are increasing training workshop places in prisons in partnership with the private sector. This includes increasing the number of prison information and communications training academies, in partnership with CISCO Systems; a partnership with Timpsons, whose core business is shoe and watch repair and engraving; and a tool repair workshop with Travis Perkins.

The education assessment undertaken for the report by Ofsted and Estyn (Wales) reported that in 2007-08 76 per cent. of prisons education passed inspection.
25 Mar 2009 : Column 423W
This compares with just 22 per cent. in 2002-03. The number of prisoners taking part in education has increased by one-third since 2006.

The prison capacity programme aims to ensure that there are sufficient training and employment places within new prisons or where significant expansion within existing prisons takes place.

Witnesses: Protection

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assistance is available to witnesses who give evidence in cases of alleged antisocial behaviour by neighbours, to protect them against possible retaliatory action by those neighbours. [265380]

Mr. Alan Campbell: I have been asked to reply.

The Home Office is responsible for the policy on antisocial behaviour.

The use of hearsay evidence in civil proceedings involving antisocial behaviour allows witnesses to remain anonymous. We have also put in place measures to allow for the identities of those too fearful to give evidence to be protected in antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) cases.

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 introduced special measures for witnesses in proceedings for ASBOs. These measures were introduced to address concerns about the protection of vulnerable and intimidated witnesses. The measures include screening witnesses from the defendants, giving evidence through video link or in private, and the use of video recorded evidence. Special dedicated antisocial behaviour response courts have been established in magistrates' courts sitting in their civil capacity to ensure that witness issues are addressed. Local agencies have developed efficient case management systems which include working in partnership with key agencies to provide support to victims after court proceedings. In addition the Home Office has issued a good practice guide to practitioners on how best to support victims and witnesses of antisocial behaviour through the whole length of the witness pathway. A range of detailed guidance is set out on the Home Office's website on antisocial behaviour website.

Young Offenders: Custodial Treatment

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people in custody under the age of 18 years were required to share living accommodation with other convicted persons over the age of 18 years for at least part of their time in custody in the last 12 months. [266456]

Mr. Hanson: Information on the number of young people (16 to 17-year-olds) who have been required to share accommodation with young adults (18 to 21-year-olds) is not collected centrally.

Young people are not routinely required to share accommodation with young adults. They will only do so in a small number of cases where there are exceptional circumstances, such as the need to manage disruptive and violent behaviour, and where this is considered to be the preferred course of action.

25 Mar 2009 : Column 424W

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people under the age of 18 years were held in (a) custody, (b) junior detention centres, (c) prisons, (d) mental health units and (e) other secure units on the latest date for which figures are available. [266457]

Mr. Hanson: At the end of January 2009, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 2,634 juveniles aged under 18 in custody in England and Wales. Of these, 2,222 were in YOIs, 228 in STCs and 184 in SCHs.

These figures are taken from the brief published at the following website which is updated monthly:

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Published information is not available to exactly answer part (d) of this question.

The annual Statistical Bulletin on Mentally Disordered Offenders shows that as of 31 December 2007 (the latest data for which published figures are available), there were 111 restricted patients (101 male and 10 female) aged 20 years and under detained within mental health units in England and Wales.

Further information can be found within table 4 of “Statistics of Mentally Disordered Offenders 2007: England and Wales”, which can be downloaded from:


Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether proposals have been made to his Department for the lease of medium and heavy lift helicopters for use in Afghanistan. [264144]

Mr. Hutton: The Ministry of Defence uses helicopters provided by SkyLink Aviation through the NATO ISAF Contracted Air Transport (ICAT) contract to move freight. During periods of peak activity the UK supplements the NATO ICAT with a national contract providing medium and heavy helicopter lift.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make an assessment of the extent to which the Taliban are using body armour in combat with UK forces. [265710]

Mr. Hutton: It is not appropriate to comment on assessments made of enemy forces' capabilities for operational security reasons.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on ammunitions for operations in Helmand province in each month since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [265970]

25 Mar 2009 : Column 425W

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 24 March 2009]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 1042W.

The costs of operations in Afghanistan in 2008-09 are expected to be available in July.

Armed Forces Day: Essex

Mr. Newmark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to enable organisations based in Essex to participate in Armed Forces Day on 27 June 2009. [265680]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The MOD is keen to support organisations in Essex, as with those in all other parts of the country, planning to run armed forces day events. Support is made available in the form of a financial grant and with the participation of local service units where this can be arranged. Within Essex, we are aware that Southend-on-Sea borough council are planning to hold a major armed forces day event on 27 June and they have been awarded a financial grant from the MOD to assist with the costs. We have also invited all local authorities in the county to participate in a ‘fly the flag’ initiative, which involves holding a flag raising ceremony (ideally involving cadets and veterans) on 22 June at 10.30 to coincide with other similar events across the country. Braintree borough council, along with a number of other authorities in the county, have confirmed that they intend to participate in this activity.

Armed Forces: Brunei

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on basing Gurkha soldiers in Brunei Darussalam in each year since 2005. [265145]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The cost of basing Gurkha soldiers in Brunei depends largely on how many soldiers based there are deployed on operations. In 2005 and 2007, the resident battalion deployed to Afghanistan as a unit.

Financial year MOD expenditure on basing Gurkhas in Brunei (£ million)







Figures for 2008-09 are not yet available.

Next Section Index Home Page