§ Mr. McNamara
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 21 May,Official Report, column 77, what progress has been made in reviewing special secure unit operating standards following the report of Sir Donald Acheson concerning open visits by members of prisoners' immediate family. 29W
§ Ms Joyce Quin
The special secure unit (SSU) operating standards were reviewed following the receipt of Sir Donald Acheson's report in June 1996. The standards were amended to implement recommendations covering health reviews of prisoners, transfer of prisoners requiring emergency treatment in national health service hospitals and sentence management.
Careful consideration was given to Sir Donald's recommendation that prisoners in SSUs should have access to open visits with members of their immediate family. The Prison Service has made numerous improvements to the security of SSUs but closed visits represent the only guaranteed means of preventing the passage of unauthorised items between prisoner and visitor. The policy of mandatory closed visits for exceptional risk prisoners will be kept under review, however, to ensure that it remains the appropriate response to the threat posed by such prisoners.