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26 Apr 1996 : Column WA113

Written Answers

Friday, 26th April 1996.

Holloway Prison

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why there was no co-ordinated policy on foreign nationals at Holloway prison and no full-time foreign nationals officer in 1995, and whether there is now such a policy and such an officer.

The Minister of State, Home Office (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 Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26th April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about policy on foreign nationals at Holloway prison.

The co-ordination of arrangements for foreign nationals at Holloway has been carried out by a prison officer on a part-time basis. As part of a wider review of the work of Holloway, additional time is being given to this post but a full-time appointment is not justified.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they allowed the volume of paperwork, forms and detailed instructions from the Prison Service to increase substantially at Holloway prison; why there was a proliferation of basic repetitive paperwork there; why the number of management meetings increased and hindered staff from getting out into the prison; and why the management became overburdened by the amount of paperwork.

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 Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26th April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the increase in paperwork and meetings at Holloway prison.

The volume of paperwork, forms and detailed instructions sent to Holloway has been controlled over this past year as it has at all Prison Service establishments. The level of paperwork is no greater at Holloway than at any other Prison Service establishment.

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There was a need for the management of Holloway to grapple with the range and intensity of problems with which they were confronted, and it was for local management to determine how best to balance those tasks with the need to get out into the prison.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the Board of Visitors of Holloway prison that "lack of a purposeful regime was profoundly damaging to the ethos of the prison and to the lives of the inmates", and that it is "demeaning, inhumane and damaging to mental and physical health to keep women locked in their cells with little respite".

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 Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26th April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the regime at Holloway prison.

I have acknowledged publicly that there were deficiencies in the regime at Holloway and that the conditions in which the prisoners were held were unsatisfactory. Steps have been taken to improve matters and work to restore the regime to an acceptable level continues.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Education Unit at Holloway prison was closed for one third of the time from July onwards during 1995, and for what proportion of the time it was closed in the first three months of 1996.

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 Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26th April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the education unit at Holloway prison.

The education department was closed on an intermittent basis from July to December 1995 because staff were deployed to other more essential tasks, such as outside escorts.

The education department has not been closed during the first three months of 1996.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why Holloway prison's education budget was cut in April 1995.

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.

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Letter to Lord Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26th April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about Holloway prison's education budget.

In 1994-95 additional funds were made available to Kingsway College which provides education to Holloway by the internal transfer within Holloway of £50,000. This additional amount was not available in 1995-96 as a result of an overall cut in Holloway's budget.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they allowed a shortage of officers to develop at Holloway Prison during 1995.

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 Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26th April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the shortage of officers at Holloway prison during 1995.

This shortage occurred as a result of increases in the female prison population and a rise in escort commitments. Revised security arrangements as a result of the Woodcock report and the introduction of mandatory drug testing also impacted on staff resources.

Additional funding was provided in October 1995 allowing additional staff to be recruited.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give priority to completing the review of the female estate by the Prison Service, including a thorough examination of the role of Holloway; and whether they will publish the findings of this review.

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 Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26th April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the review of the female estate.

The Prison Service is currently carrying out a detailed strategic review of the female estate; we will also be completing a detailed review on the future of Holloway prison. The results of these reviews will be considered by Ministers shortly.

We have no plans to publish these reviews.

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Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why inmates, including remand inmates, were recorded as being locked in their cells on numerous days in 1995 at Holloway prison, and what improvement there has been in 1996.

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 Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26th April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about inmates being locked in their cells at Holloway prison.

Because of a sharp increase in the number of women prisoners, an increased escorting commitment to outside hospitals, a higher staff sickness level and additional security requirements, the regime at Holloway was seriously affected at times during 1995. This meant that staff were not available to unlock prisoners in order for them to attend activities.

In December 1995 temporary staff were provided from other prison establishments until the staff that had been recruited in October 1995 had been trained and returned to Holloway.

Since these staff have taken up post significant improvements have been made and activities are no longer routinely cancelled.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the commitment of Holloway to maintaining and strengthening family ties will be supported by the Prison Service and whether, as part of this commitment, they will build a visitors' centre during 1996.

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 Avebury from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 26th April 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about Holloway prison's commitment to family ties.

The Prison Service is fully committed to maintaining family ties.

Due to the pressures on Government spending, funding is not available in the Prison Service's current capital spending plans for a visitors' centre at Holloway prison. Other essential schemes across the prison estate have had to be given a higher priority. However the governor has set up a group involving outside community interests to explore the possibility of alternative ways of funding the project. This group is due to report back to the governor of Holloway at the end of May 1996.

26 Apr 1996 : Column WA117


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