Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Immigration Act: Conditions of Detention

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blatch: All immigration detainees are fully informed of the reasons for their detention. This is done orally, in a language which the person understands,

25 May 1995 : Column WA69

through an interpreter if necessary. The Government see no justification for providing written statements.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that legal representatives have adequately long visiting hours, and access to clients without prior appointments, when asylum seekers are detained; and if not, why not.

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.

The Prison Service has issued an instruction to prison governors designed to facilitate access to detainees in prisons by recognised legal representatives.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give instructions that the legal representatives of immigration detainees, and in particular of asylum seekers, must always be informed without delay when their clients are moved between places of detention; and if not, why not.

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.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to statements by the Chief Inspector of Prisons and by the respective Boards of Visitors, that HMPs Pentonville and Wandsworth are "unsuitable" for holding asylum seekers and deportation cases.

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,

25 May 1995 : Column WA70

Wandsworth will no longer hold anybody detained under the Immigration Act.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the 200 places reserved for Immigration Act detainees in HM Prison Rochester have been in use since the end of March 1995; and when all places will be in use.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Hylton from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Derek Lewis, dated 25 May 1995:

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.

Between 31 March and 29 April 73 places were available and in use. From 29 April onwards a total of 115 places have been available.

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.

It is expected that, subject to the completion of essential security work at Rochester, the full operational capacity of 198 places for detainees will be available from the third week in June 1995.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect that Immigration Act detainees (other than those held in Detention Centres) will have been concentrated in the four designated prisons, given that this should have happened in October 1994.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Hylton from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Derek Lewis, dated 25 May 1995:

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the holding of immigration detainees in designated Prison Service establishments.

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.

25 May 1995 : Column WA71

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether decisions to detain will always be reviewed by a Special Adjudicator of the Immigration Appeals Authority at an oral hearing; and if not, why not.

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.

The Government do not consider that the introduction of a further review procedure is necessary.

Local Prison Accommodation Statistics

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the inmate population of each local prison on 17 May 1995; and for each such prison, what was its certified normal accommodation and the percentage of overcrowding on that date.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Harris of Greenwich from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Derek Lewis, dated 25 May 1995:

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.

25 May 1995 : Column WA72

The information requested is given in the attached table.

Population, Certified Normal Accommodation (CNA) Available for Use and Percentage Overcrowding in Local Prisons in England and Wales on 17 May 1995

Establishment CNA Available for Use Population Percentage Overcrowding (%)
Bedford 303 293
Belmarsh 744 581
Birmingham 547 794 45
Blakenhurst 649 639
Bristol 474 474
Brixton 484 594 23
Bullingdon 334 319
Camp Hill 12 16 33
Canterbury 184 267 45
Cardiff 321 432 35
Chelmsford 251 387 54
Doncaster 771 756
Dorchester 127 162 28
Durham 400 615 54
Elmley 482 422
Exeter 216 296 37
Gloucester 121 152 26
Haslar 164 132
Highdown 629 627
Holme House 494 462
Hull 328 369 13
Leeds 828 1,034 25
Leicester 192 321 67
Lewes 312 305
Lincoln 444 610 37
Liverpool 1,090 1,319 21
Manchester 830 925 11
Norwich 257 239
Pentonville 559 746 33
Preston 342 468 37
Rochester 115 74
Shrewsbury 176 267 52
Swansea 151 207 37
The Wolds 320 331 3
Wormwood Scrubs 472 778 65
Wandsworth 674 850 26
Winchester 261 444 70
Woodhill 453 449
Totals 15,511 18,156 17



   Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page