HC Deb 24 October 1994 vol 248 cc470-1W
Ms Ruddock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made to date on each of the recommendations of the Woolf report; and what are the timetables for future implementation.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

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 from Derek Lewis to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 24 October 1994: The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the progress made on the recommendations of the Woolf Report and the timetable for future implementation. As you know, the major recommendations in the Woolf Report have been a key priority for the Prison Service. A summary of the progress made is set out below. Improve security Prison Security Act now in force Refurbishment to higher standards (long term programme) Lakes/Hadfield proposals; most of the accepted recommendations have now been implemented. Incidents in private sector prisons now managed from Incident Management Suite Programme for installing X-ray machines completed in all prisons holding Category A prisoners New guidance issued on escorting prisoners New standard intelligence—handling system in place in all prison security departments Guidance on best practice in tackling bullying issued August 1993; research project is underway Visitor recognition schemes being trialed to improve security on visits Cognitive skills programmes already running prisons and being piloted in 21 more Regime monitoring system extended from April 1992 Admissions guide on reception and induction arrangements issued November 1992 Sentence planning implemented for prisoners sentenced to four years or more after October 1992, and all sentenced Category A prisoners Sentence planning extended at the end of 1993 to prisoners sentenced to four years or more before October 1992, and to those newly sentenced to one to four years A full review of sentence planning—its objectives and supporting systems—is underway Work commenced on improving arrangements for management of research New guidance for juveniles issued October 1992 Provide Code of Standards Prison Service Operating Standards published April 1994 Improve relationships with prisoners Prisoners information pack issued Changes in BOV role introduced on schedule Prisons Ombudsman appointed April 1994 Improving standards of diets and food distribution in establishments Improved guidance on recording racial incidents issued; major research project underway into how incidents are recorded and dealt with Prisoner compacts introduced Greater openness over parole and early release decisions Provide access to sanitation £9 million to be spent on simple sanitation schemes in 1994–95 More than 92 per cent of prison places now have access to night sanitation By the end of 1994, 95 per cent. of prison places will have access to night sanitation. It is planned that the remainder will be completed within the 1996 deadline proposed by Lord Justice Woolf End overcrowding Thirteen new prisons opened since 1991 providing 7,743 places Two new prison starts planned for 1995–96 to provide further 1,200 places by 1997–98 Buckley Hall to re-open in 1994–95 providing 90 places, rising to 350 places in early 1995–96 Over 2,000 new houseblock places to be built at existing prisons by 1996–97; most have now started on site Four further prisons also planned, sites and timescale yet to be decided Trebling eliminated Divide large wings into smaller units wherever possible Requirement considered as part of all major wing refurbishment schemes. Develop community prisons Family ties and pre-release initiatives to complement community prisons approach, including increase in frequency and flexibility of duration of visits; further extension of financially assisted visits scheme introduced in 1994; provision of cardphones now extended to all prisons; review of home leave scheme under way In September 1993 Prisons Board decided on steps to be taken in the short term for moving towards a community prison system Community cluster arrangements introduced in the Kent area during 1993; similar arrangements to be introduced for East Anglia in September 1994; and feasibility study in hand for North East Reasons for building community prisons in urban areas vindicated in 1994 at public enquiry into proposals for new prison in Merseyside

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