HC Deb 10 March 1983 vol 38 cc940-1
5. Mr. Soley

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will undertake a study to assess the number of prisoners in Her Majesty's prisons in Northern Ireland who are dependent on alcohol.

The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. John Patten)

No, Sir.

Mr. Soley

That is an extremely unhelpful answer from the Minister. Does he accept that, according to the most recent figures for the United Kingdom as a whole, about 60 per cent. of male racidivist offenders have a serious alcohol abuse problem? Given that some studies have already been carried out, what is wrong with the Minister pursuing these studies properly and publishing the results? They are important if he wants to prevent crime, as prevention is more important than anything else.

Mr. Patten

To the best of my knowledge, only one study has been conducted recently in Northern Ireland prisons by someone outside Government circles. That research, as I believe the hon. Gentleman knows, has not been completed and therefore neither the Government nor anyone else can publish it.

With regard to the problem of alcoholism inside prisons, we have an extremely good prison medical service which gives every help that is needed to the relatively small numbers of people inside prisons in Northern Ireland who have an alcohol problem. In addition, we also make available, through the excellent help of Alcoholics Anonymous, all the help that prisoners need, should they choose to take it.

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