Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40-59)|
MP, MR MARTIN
TUESDAY 4 DECEMBER 2001
40. Coming from what countries?
(Beverley Hughes) 51 per cent Jamaica, and between
3-5 per cent from South Africa, the Netherlands and Spain. Those
are the main countries. Predominantly over half from Jamaica.
41. Might there be some advantage in sending
them back to where they came from rather quicker, rather than
having to maintain them at public expense for many years and then
sending them back anyway?
(Beverley Hughes) That is an issue that is examined
on a case by case basis. It is a complicated issue as I think
you will know, because we do have arrangements and understanding
with other countries about the way our prisoners are treated there
and so on. I take your point. We have had a policy, generally,
of not releasing somebody until they have actually come up to
their respective release date here and we are looking at that.
42. Briefly as regards detainees under the anti-terrorism,
crime and security bill where, happily, you are also the relevant
ministerwhat provisions are you making for the detention
of people under this legislation?
(Beverley Hughes) If there were people detained under
that legislation they would be detained in a high security facility
on the Prison Estate. I think, for reasons that will be obvious,
if they are suspected of international terrorism, if there were
to be any attempt by compatriots to get these people out of prison
we need to keep them in the most secure conditions. We do have
facilities on the high security Estate that obviously have been
used for other people, and there are facilities we would use in
43. Have you got sufficient vacancies for anticipated
(Beverley Hughes) Yes. We have been reviewing our
capacity without making any assumptions, and making sure that
the Prison Service can respond if those measures were implicated.
44. Are they likely to be concentrated in one
or two or half a dozen high security prisoners?
(Beverley Hughes) Yes.
45. Proximate to their families as far as possible,
(Beverley Hughes) It is very difficult for me to answer
that because I do not know who might be detained and where there
families are. Clearly, we have a number of facilities around the
country, and it is possible that we could accommodate people as
close as we could; but, clearly, because the variables inherent
in the question are unpredictable to me at the moment I cannot
give any guarantees about that.
46. Mr Narey, how many have you been told to
(Mr Narey) We have not been given any figure at all,
but what we have been doing is preparing the reconstruction of
units which, happily, we have been able to have in mothballs for
some years now.
47. Which units?
(Mr Narey) These are units in our high security prisons
which we have used for special and high risk prisoners, which
we have been able to mothball since we have had a significant
fall in the number of prisoners of that category, largely because
those people convicted of terrorism in Northern Ireland have returned
to the country. We have had some spare capacity in this respect
and can cope with an influx. Obviously, if the influx was very
large we would have to think about how we could expand that.
48. Are you expecting women to be among the
(Beverley Hughes) Again, it is very difficult to predict.
We do not hear about a great many women suspected of being involved
in international terrorism. It is possible there might be a very
small number, but I imagine that most would be men.
49. Mr Sutton, assuming that reducing re-offending
is the main purpose for resettlement, why has it taken so long
to produce this current order? What is the main difference between
this current one and previous resettlement orders?
(Mr Sutton) I think the premise of the question is
rightwe are looking to the range of present programmes
to impact on re-offending. We have been developing in the last
three, four, five years a series of programmes around basic skills,
around offending behaviour and drug treatment which are designed
to have that effect. It is true to say that the initial effort
went into developing those programmes. Having done so, having
made progress in this area, I think we felt that the time was
right to look more across the piece of resettlement, and to bring
a broader context to the programmeand we can talk about
that in more detail. We wanted then and were able then to reflect
that in the PSO on resettlement. The main changes that it really
effects is that it is expressing our ambitions for resettlement
as covering the whole of the Estate, not just the resettlement
prisons. The PSO talks about resettlement from the period of induction
through the sentence, and it is the opportunities to achieve resettlement
through the whole sentence, the whole period in custody, that
we are looking to develop. That is the main change that the PSO
reflects, and it has come on top of the initial work and the initial
effort which was to improve what we were doing with basic skills,
offending behaviour programmes and drug treatment, which were
the initial cornerstones of that approach.
50. How much has the rise in prison numbers
affected your ability to provide a certain number of hours of
activity for offenders?
(Mr Sutton) Clearly, as the Minister and Director
General have reflected, there are constraints on our ability to
develop regimes of resettlement as the population expands. It
is the hallmark of the approach that is taken today that is different
from previous years, that where we are expanding capacity we are
building in additional regime and resettlement provision within
that so that we are in that way looking to maintain the regime
of resettlement provision as the population expands; but, clearly,
where it expands abruptly, and we have to cope with the logistics
of that, that puts a pressure on the measures we are putting in
place; but the figures for purposeful activity are holding up
very well. As the population has expanded we have produced a tremendous
increase in the amount of purposeful activity hours and that has
kept step with the rise in population. Although we have narrowly
missed our target figures for activity hours there has not been
a deterioration in that level of purposeful activity as the population
51. Would you care to comment on the contribution
the voluntary sector can make in the resettlement programme?
(Mr Sutton) I think that is a very important factor,
and one which is increasingly recognised in the work we are doing.
Indeed, in the PSO it is specifically recognised. The contribution
is immense, and if we look around the areas of resettlement, we
are looking now to develop around employment, around housing and
around drug treatment. We know that we cannot make the kind of
progress we want to achieve without connecting with the voluntary
sector; and we are doing that on a significantly increased scale
as compared with previous times. We are also trying to do it in
a more coherent and business-like way. In the past, where there
has been a tremendous tradition of work in the voluntary sector,
it has not been governed by a kind of strategy which we think
we now need if we are to make the best use of the sector. We have
been working this year on a strategy for our work with the voluntary
sector and working in consultation with leading representatives
of the sector. It is a hugely significant part of it, particularly
as we switch our emphasis now within the resettlement to a focus
on jobs for prisoners subsequent to custody, and on tackling the
kind of problems around housing and other social issues that we
know we have to tackle if we are going to make that positive impact
52. Do you see any obstacles to consistency
of implementation over the foreseeable future?
(Mr Sutton) I think we are better placed, than we
have been, to achieve a more consistent approach. We are clearly
in the area of basic skills. It is one of the major elements of
the programme. We have national targets which are developing a
greater consistency around the Estate in terms of what we are
achieving. I mentioned the national strategy now in the voluntary
sector, which I think will mean we are achieving greater consistency
in our work with the voluntary sector. We are working out the
details now of the new targets for employment of prisoners, what
we call "custody to work" which, when we develop that
and operationalise that, I think will lead to greater consistency
in the work that is done with resettlement around the Prison Estate.
53. You mentioned targets, which leads me neatly
in my last question. How long do you think it will be before the
results of the new programme will show in the report of the Chief
(Mr Sutton) We are doing work now with the Chief Inspector,
indeed with both the Prisons Inspectorate and the Probations Inspectorate,
around their recent report. I think we have already got evidence
in the work that has been done on basic skills that we are making
progress. I think we have got evidence from offending behaviour
results that that is having an impact on reoffending, so I think
the process has already started. I think the point I was seeking
to make in relation to employment is that we are now setting our
sights on a harder target, a still more tangible target in relation
to outcomes in the community, and I think that we would expect
to make an impact with that over the next couple of years and
as the investment which we obtain from the last spending review
starts to come on stream so we would be looking to be making a
bigger impact in that, specifically by 2004, which is the period
that that target is expressed to run at.
(Mr Narey) Can I offer a useful statistic in terms
of what we are doing in education because in the memorandum which
we provided we recorded that last year there were 12,000 qualifications
in basic skills at level 2, this is the level at which people
break into the job market, approximately approaching the numeracy
age of a 14-year-old. That will probably be 18,000 this year.
We are talking about a population in our young offender establishments,
a huge proportion of whom have been permanently excluded from
school, and about giving them not as much as I would like but
in many cases the first ever qualification and raising with them
the prospect for the first time in their lives the possibility
of getting a job.
54. Here there is a conflict between our desire
to keep the prison population down and the fact that you need
to have these young people in your custody for a certain period
of time in order to engage their attention.
(Mr Narey) That is a real dilemma and the argument
needs to be a more sophisticated one than it has previously been.
It is my view that we can do little which is of any use for a
short-term prisoner but actually if we have somebody long enoughand
when I say this to magistrates I quickly follow it up by saying
I am not asking for more prisonerswe can change people's
lives, we can get them off drugs, get them some qualifications,
and what Ken has described is our to intention to move from making
people employable to actually getting them into employment.
55. So are you asking for less prisoners for
longer periods, quality not quantity?
(Mr Narey) I would be careful not to ask for longer
sentences but we can change people's lives if we have them long
enough. I was at Low Newton prison on Thursday afternoon and I
talked to a number of young women, all of whom had been taking
drugs, all of whom were off drugs, all of whom had got their first
ever qualifications and most of them had not been to school since
the age of 13, and we had changed their lives. When, as happened
on Thursday, a young woman talks to me with such conviction about
going home to Sunderland and getting a job in the new call centre
at MFI which has opened there, you realise something very important
56. Do we follow people out of prison back into
the outside world?
(Mr Narey) We are doing so now to check two things,
first of all, the commitment which the Home Secretary has asked
me to make to double the number of prisoners getting into jobs
and, secondly, to try to demonstrate the things we are doing on
education, drug treatment, offending behaviour programmes work.
We are tracking them to try to demonstrate that we have reduced
the re-conviction rate which it is measured at two years after
57. Does every prison now have a resettlement
(Mr Narey) Every prison has been asked to form a specific
resettlement committee. Ken will tell you what the proper name
(Mr Sutton) Resettlement Policy Committee, which is
part of the PSO Ms Watkinson was mentioning, so there is a new
committee structure and it is now for the first time a required
element at each prison that there will be such a team established.
58. Is there someone full time in charge of
resettlement in each prison or has the committee got other tasks?
(Mr Narey) It depends on the prison. At open prisonsand
4,000 of our prisoners are in open prisonsthere is generally
somebody full time dealing with that. For example, at Leyhill,
which I also visited last week, 100 prisoners every day are working
outside in paid jobs and there are two or three people working
full time on that. I am not pretending that there is a very much
active resettlement work going on in Brixton and Manchester where
predominantly they are concentrating on receiving people from
the courts and getting people into basic skills assessment to
start the process of getting them ready for downstream release.
59. Where many of them are remand prisoners
(Mr Narey) Yes.
(Mr Sutton) The increasing focus on resettlement is
reflected in the PSO which we have mentioned and a member of the
senior management team at each prison has to take charge of that
new structure, so we are recognising the importance of that at
all prisons, not just the few who have specific units.
(Beverley Hughes) Could I make one point just in terms
of your questions about do we want people in longer so we can
deal with some of the many issues that they come to us with. I
make one point in relation to that. Firstly, I think that rehabilitation
and resettlement of offenders generally, and prisoners in particular,
has really got to be the most important focus of the Prison and
Probation Services and that in order to try and address some of
the many issues that offenders bring to those services, we cannot
and should not expect the Prison Service to be able to deal with
all of those because they simply cannot. Members of the Committee
have already demonstrated their knowledge about the multiplicity
and range and deep-seatedness of many of those problems, and that
is not to excuse people's offending behaviour, it is to say that
if we are serious about protection of the public and reducing
crime then prison services and other agencies really have to work
together to address those issues. We need a much better interface
between prison and probation, but also we need to call on the
other agencies, health service, education and employment, at a
central and local level because really, arguably, it is those
services that could and should have been addressing some of the
issues that offenders bring to the Prison Service and Probation
Service long before they ever get to court and we really do need
that multi-faceted focus. The prison service could never and should
never try to deal with all those issues on its own; it simply
cannot do it.