HC Deb 13 December 1990 vol 182 cc1094-5
2. Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he anticipates receiving the Woolf inquiry report.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mrs. Angela Rumbold)

This is a matter for Lord Justice Woolf, but I understand that he hopes to report early in the new year.

Mr. Sheerman

If the Woolf report appears after we finish Committee proceedings on the Criminal Justice Bill it will be nothing short of a scandal, because everyone expects extremely sensible recommendations from Woolf which will affect, in particular, remand prisoners. Would not it be better to wait for Woolf rather than to carry through the dogma of the privatisation of the remand sector?

Mrs. Rumbold

The report from Lord Justice Woolf will certainly be published before the end of proceedings on the Criminal Justice Bill and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will carefully consider the recommendations.

Mr. Alexander

Although the immediate reaction to an incident such as that at Strangeways is to call for a full and wide-ranging report on prison conditions and inmate problems, would not it be equally helpful to have a much shorter factual report about what happened before the whole incident at Strangeways goes cold?

Mrs. Rumbold

I assure my hon. Friend that the immediate circumstances surrounding the events of April in Strangeways have caused the prison service to look carefully at future plans for accommodation, the type of accommodation and the behaviour and management of prisons and regimes. The report will obviously make a number of recommendations, but the prison service has taken note of what needs to be done to improve prison regimes and security without waiting for that report.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Will the Woolf inquiry deal with the problem of remand prisoners being held in police cells in Greater Manchester since the Strangeways incident? In particular, will the numbers being held in police cells now be dramatically reduced and who will pay the cost of their detention there? There is much concern in Greater Manchester that poll tax payers will have to foot the bill for all the overtime that is being worked by police officers looking after remand prisoners in police cells.

Mrs. Rumbold

The hon. Gentleman will be glad to know that K wing at Strangeways is now open and prisoners are being returned from police cells in Greater Manchester. It is hoped that up to 150 prisoners will be sent to Strangeways from police cells by Christmas. The Home Office has already paid £8 million to the police for their services and any further expenditure incurred by the police for looking after prisoners will be repaid.

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