§ Mrs. Brinton
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to implement the recommendations of "Women in Prison: A Thematic Review" by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons. 
§ Ms Quin
The Prison Service welcomed the report "Women in Prison: A thematic review by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons". The Prison Service is already progressing work in a number of areas highlighted by the Chief Inspector's report.
In his thematic review, the Chief Inspector recommended that there should be a Director of Women's Prisons. This was considered within the structural review of the Prison Service which was completed recently. The Director General accepted the recommendation of the review and has created a Directorate of Regimes within which there will be a number of Assistant Directors responsible for developing policy for specific groups of prisoners. An Assistant Director for Women and an Assistant Director for Young Offenders have been appointed.
Work to develop regimes for women encompasses the areas of concern highlighted by the Chief Inspector. The Prison Service in the coming year will be piloting new constructive regimes in two women's establishments. Initiatives also in hand at the moment include: re-examination of the policy on age mixing; the development of programmes to address offending behaviour specifically tailored to women's needs; training 539W programmes for those working with women in prison; and work on a protocol for dealing more effectively with disruptive women prisoners.
§ Mrs. Brinton
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the appropriateness of custodial sentences for the majority of women offenders. 
§ Mr. Michael
Prison is necessary for the most serious offenders, whether male or female, when the court considers such a sentence is necessary in order to protect the public or when other penalties are not appropriate. The Government wish to see full use of community sentences for women and we are seeking to increase the effectiveness of such sentences. Where prison is the sentence decided by the court, we want the time to be used constructively so that offenders are less likely to reoffend when released rather than more likely to offend or to offend more seriously. This principle applies to both men and women in prison. Last month, we announced a pilot programme of work with young prisoners before release to increase the likelihood that they will be able to succeed in the New Deal after release and go on to find work.
A number of new developments are taking place specifically in relation to Prison Service establishments for women. An Assistant Director for Women has recently been appointed. New regimes will be piloted in two women's establishments in the coming year. The Service is re-examining the policy on age mixing. Programmes for women to address offending behaviour are being designed. Work is in hand to deal more effectively with difficult and disruptive women prisoners. New training programmes are being brought in for staff. The Prison Service is working towards the standards set out in the Department of Health publication 'Changing Childbirth', revising policy on pregnant women in prison and mother and baby units; and medication levels in establishments for women are being reviewed.