Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
MONDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2002
40. Is not one of the problems that emerges
from this Report that you do not really know what works with these
various schemes because, picking up on a theme which the Chairman
raised, you do not have any kind of central records of how different
prison regimes affect reoffending?
(Mr Narey) We have emerging evidence of how some regimes
affect reoffending. For example the regime at Grendon, which is
a therapeutic community, we are able to keep prisoners there,
despite the population pressures, there for a substantial part
of their time in prison, and we do have evidence that that reduces
reoffending. Independent evidence shows that reconviction rates
are lower. It is very difficult, because of the population pressures
and things I just described, more generally to do that. I know
that the NAO suggested we should try to measure the performance
of individual prisons. It is very difficult for us to do that
when we have to move prisoners round so much because of population
pressures. I would love to be in a position where we send a prisoner
to a single training prison and leave them there, it would be
better for them and it would cut crime.
41. Does that not mean that you do not really
know how any of your programmes, accredited or unaccredited, really
work, because you cannot separate them out from the overall regime
in which they are operating? There may be an innovative governor
who has a particularly good regime within which there are programmes
that are working, but you do not have any data on that?
(Mr Narey) There are a number of reasons, first of
all because of the reconviction data which is emerging, and secondly
because we conduct psychometric tests on prisoners before and
after entry to the programme, and those tests are conducted very
carefully to ensure they cannot be manipulated by individuals.
With our most difficult programmes, those dealing with sex offender
treatment, we do other tests to check individual sexual reaction
to certain images. There is a lot of evidence, other than reconviction
data, that these programmes do work, evidence from abroad as well,
not just from England and Wales.
42. You are not really prepared to take up the
National Audit Office's recommendation in paragraph in 2.4 on
page 19, which says, "There has been little substantive research
and data on the variability of reconviction.
(Mr Narey) I would love to take that up. I can think
of very little else which would do more to improve quality if
I was setting prison against prison in demonstrating you could
reduce offending. At the moment with the way I have to move prisoners
about and the fact that typically a prisoner might move three
or four times in a single sentence, because of pressure on population,
it is very difficult to do that in a convincing way, other than
for a handful of prisons where we do manage to keep menit
is very rarely womenin the same place for a long period
43. According to this Report nor do you have
any central information on the non-accredited programmes in prisons.
Paragraph 2.26 says, "The arrangements for non-accredited
programmes are not as well developed. The Service does not have
any central record of what these programmes involve, their target
group, their objectives and their costs and who is providing them."
(Mr Narey) We are just bringing that together, as
I mentioned, in our custody-to-work strategy, so that we can build
on accredited programmes and give my area managers guidance on
those non-accredited programmes which we think contribute to reducing
offending. We will give particular encouragement to the resettlement
programmes Mr Steinberg mentioned.
44. Nor do you have any idea of an overall picture
of need. According to paragraph 3.5, "The Prison Service
has no routine mechanism for performing an overall picture of
need and therefore no method for assessing any potential mismatch
between need and programme provision."
(Mr Narey) We have been plugging that very fast. Every
prisoner coming into custody now does the Basic Skills Agency
screening test so we have a very good picture of the severity
of the literacy and numeracy problem that we have. We are not
yet in a position to attack it as roundly as I would like. Every
prison now has, at the very least, a counselling assessment and
a referral service for those who have been taking drugs. I might
mention, 90 per cent of those coming into custody have a drug
or substance abuse problem or mental illness, or both. In those
two areas we do have an assessment in need. We do not yet have
a full assessment of the need for offending behaviour programmes.
The work we are doing with the Probation Service, work which will
start before a prisoner arrives with us, will plug that gap as
45. Because you may not have an overall picture
of need is that one of the contributory factors to one of the
most depressing figures in this Report, which is the waiting lists
for prisoners who want to go on these programmes. Many prisoners
have to wait a year before they can go on a sex offender treatment
programme. These are prisoners who have volunteered for the programme,
(Mr Narey) Although we have expanded the number of
offender behaviour programmes very significantly, as I mentioned,
sevenfold in the same number of years, and we have increased the
number of sex offender treatment programmes we have struggled
to expand them at the rate which we would like. There are a number
of reasons for that. It is pretty traumatic work. It has been
difficult to support tutors who find the work very difficult.
We generally need professional psychologists to supervise the
work. It is not difficult to recruit, although it has sometimes
been difficult to retain them. For other reasons it has been difficult
to expand sex offender treatment programmes as much as we could
do. We have still significantly increased the number in recent
years by a very significant percentage, by 85 per cent.
46. In the Report it says, in one prison there
is a waiting list of 180 prisoners for the sex offender treatment
(Mr Narey) There will be. We are some way short of
being able to meet the need for those who are willing to undertake
sex offender treatment.
47. If I can turn to drugs, which you brought
up yourself. You said that 90 per cent of prisoners coming in
had a drug problem, some sort of drug misuse when they entered
prison. Am I correct in saying there is only one accredited drug
(Mr Narey) There are 50 programmes, I think about
six of them have been through the accreditation process and the
others will be going through the accreditation process in due
This is an example where we have not been obsessed with accreditation,
we have let these programmes grow and I have confidence in their
efficacy. We are doing very, very important things with offenders
in circumstances which would be impossible in the community. Again,
from our earliest programmes, those are run for us by RAPt and
also more recently a programme run for us by a firm called Addaction,
the reconviction evidence is very, very encouraging indeed in
terms of a lesser return to crime after release.
48. I do not doubt that. It has been a personal
bug-bear of mine that for every pound spent on drug rehabilitation
you get £10 back in terms of money we save else where. I
am not sure you know that that is the case in the Prison Service
because in paragraph 2.11 you say, although there is a great deal
of money going into these drug schemes you do not really know
how the money is being spent in the Service because, perhaps,
you are relying on a haphazard arrangement of some credited schemes
and some unaccredited schemes. It says here, there are no common
accounting practices. It is not clear that allocations have been
used strictly for the purposes intended, particularly in the case
of the prison staff costs for running drug treatment programmes
which may or may not be spent on this work.
(Mr Narey) We do have a very antiquated accounting
system which will not be properly replaced for a couple of years
yet. That does not mean that I am not confident that the investment
we have received has not gone in this area. If that had not been
the case I do not think we could have had some pretty remarkable
evidence since the proportion of prisoners taking drugs, as measured
by random testing, which we do every month, has fallen by more
than half over the last three years. The evidence from drug treatment
programmes, and I have spent a lot of time on visits talking to
prisoners going through drug treatment programmes, is pretty dramatic
in terms of the fact that we are doing things with people which
are making a real difference to them. Although the accounting
system is adequate, and I am confident I can demonstrate that
whether it has been on supply reduction, on drug treatment programmes
or on extra dogs which detect drugs being smuggled into prisons
the money has been invested in the right area.
49. When prison staff costs are put down against
running drug treatment programmes, that is actual time being spent
on that work?
(Mr Narey) At the moment our accounting system cannot
do the sophisticated work to split the work of a prison officer
who might spend 40 per cent of his time on a drug treatment programme
and 60 per cent of his time on other activities. I am confident
that the investment we got to expand drug treatment programmesI
might say much of which we generated ourselves by cash efficiency,
which we returned to the Treasury in the same yearand the
net growth in investment has been quite small, I am very confident
that I can demonstrate that is being spent on reducing drug misuse.
50. At the moment only one in three closed young
offenders institutions have a drug treatment programme. It would
have struck me that the best place to put drug treatment programmes
is in a young offenders' institution, where you can get people
young with their drug addiction problem. Will you be increasing
(Mr Narey) We have just increased that by three new
ones in recent months. I think the figure quotes 72 per cent of
establishments having drug treatment programmes. Three new young
offender establishments have started rehab programmes and a number
of adult establishments as well, starting with your own constituency,
which is starting a new programme in April, and in Swansea a programme
started this week and also at three young offender institutions,
I cannot remember which but I can let the Committee know. It is
right, that is clearly a very important group. It is the fact
that in young offender institutions there are an awful lot of
prisoners serving very short sentences so we have tended to concentrate
in the roll-out of these programmes on those where we know we
can spend enough time with prisoners to make a real difference.
51. A crucial part of drug treatment is follow-up,
keeping a check on people?
(Mr Narey) I agree.
52. Not just keeping a check but encouraging
them to maintain their drug-free position. I notice you have this
pilot project with the use of hostels, it is a very small pilot
project, with 250 residents a year at five hostels with 12 beds.
Do you have any early results from that pilot project? What plans
do you have to roll it out?
(Mr Narey) We are just opening those. They are specifically
for short sentence prisoners. The Committee are obviously interested
in bridging some gap between prison and the community for those
whom we cannot help very much while inside. We will not have any
results from those for some time.
53. What about on Table 7, page 16 of the Report?
There are various targets governing the delivery of your drug
misuse programmes, quite a few of which fall on March 2002. Perhaps
you can answer how you are dealing with these targets? Is CCTV
available in all of the visit rooms of all closed prisons?
(Mr Narey) Yes, it is.
54. Drug dogs in every prison?
(Mr Narey) Drug dogs are available for use in every
55. All rehabilitation programmes and therapeutic
communities reach accreditation standards?
(Mr Narey) No, we have not put all programmes through
accreditation standards, although I am still confident they are
effective in reducing drugs taken in prison and after release.
56. In the case study from Swaleside it talks
about drug-free areas within prisons. I am realistic, I understand
while we would like all prisons to be drug-free areas they are
not, how much effort goes into creating special drug free areas
and how much effort do you spend on trying to stop drugs going
into prisons full stop?
(Mr Narey) We try to do both. There is a real issue
in supply reduction. I have been visiting prisons in the United
States and Hong Kong very recently and I could not help but be
struck by the fact how very few drugs get into prisons at all.
All their visits, for example, are in completely closed conditions,
where families meet across a glass screen, and that is not the
sort of Prison Service I would want to be part of when we are
trying to help people maintain links with families. Having said
that, I am confident that the use CCTV and the use of passive
drug dogs has significantly reduced the flow of drugs into prisons.
We may be hitting the bottom of that, I am not sure how much further
we can go. In addition to that once we have stopped supply the
next stage is generally detox, then drug treatment. Drug free
wings, or voluntary testing units as we call them, are generally
composed of people who have been through drug treatment and want
the support of a testing regime where they may be tested very
frequently to keep them off drugs and also those prisoners who
do not have problems of addiction but still want to be protected
from a drug environment. We have significantly increased the number
of prisoners who live on drug free wings in recent years, it has
significantly exceeded our target.
57. You mentioned the support of families, it
is all rather encouraging, one of the easiest things to rectify
was paragraph 4.8 on page 38, which shows that although all of
the research shows if you involve families in helping prisoners
resettle into the community that has a huge impact on re-offending,
however the NAO's survey of prisons found that only 22 per cent
of 134 prisons involves families in sentence planning. Of course
you have problems about housing prisoners and this only contributes
to this problem because many were housed so many miles away from
where they lived.
(Mr Narey) I think some of the comments are entirely
fair. We have been looking at this with some energy since then
and I have seen some significant improvement in our own audit
figures, particularly for those which involve families for those
aged 17 and under. We have about 3,000, mainly young men, aged
17 and under in my care and the involvement of families is now
entirely routine. At most of the institutionsthere are
13 holding those boysit is entirely usual for the mother
and the father, usually the mother, to attend the monthly reviews
and sit in with the staff to discuss the progress their son is
making. That, I think, is making a very real difference and making
the parent very much a part of the training of the young man while
58. What happens when you are introducing a
new regime, such as this, into a prison in the case of PFI prisons?
If a PFI contract has been entered into before you try to introduce
a scheme like this do you then have to renegotiate part of the
contract in order to alter the regime in the private prison?
(Mr Narey) It depends on the magnitude of the change.
I have found that all private sector prisons have been very cooperative
in minor changes. Where it is very substantial we have had to
renegotiate the contract. I inherited the first private prison
which opened in my tenure as Director General and it was designed
and commissioned at a time when the emphasis was on work and very
little on education, this was at Lowdham Grange, a prison run
by Premier Prison Services. I thought that had the worst education
department and the most inadequate education of any prison I have
been to. We have had to renegotiate the contract to change the
direction of that because the firm invested very significantly
in workshop activity.
59. Is that not unduly costly? What we found
in contracts in other areas, construction for example, it does
not matter which areas, once you have a main contract and you
need to renegotiate it, since you have no bargaining power all
the negotiating strength is with the person providing the service,
you cannot do anything else. How costly has it been to get the
(Mr Narey) I would have to write with the figures,
but it has not been unduly costly, Mr Williams. The contractual
position you state is quite right. The reality is that the four
companies who work for us are very, very keen to be part of what
we see as a fundamental change in the direction of the Prison
Service. They are keen to be part of that and demonstrate their
prisons cannot only hold people decently but can reduce re-offending
4 Note by witness: There are 26 drug treatment
programmes running in 50 prisons. One drug treatment programme,
run by the charity Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust
(RAPt) has been accredited and is running in seven prisons. The
remaining 25 drug treatment programmes running across the Prison
have been reviewed by the Drug Strategy Unit in relation to their
progress towards accreditation. Some are further advanced towards
accreditation than others. Back
Ev 24, Appendix 1. Back
Ev 25, Appendix 1. Back