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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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