HC Deb 14 May 1992 vol 207 cc737-8
6. Mr. Llwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to improve transport conditions and journey times for remand prisoners travelling from remand centres to courts in north Wales.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

I have no plans to make changes to the current arrangements for the conveyance of prisoners to courts in north Wales, which are broadly similar to those in operation in other parts of the country.

Mr. Llwyd

As I have had numerous complaints from constituents and their families about seven-hour journeys to courts, often in inhumane conditions, will the Minister confirm that a remand centre is to be established in north Wales and that in the meantime decent transport facilities will be afforded to remand prisoners?

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot confirm or promise a remand centre, at least not at this point. However, the arrangements for transporting prisoners are well organised. If the hon. Gentleman has particular complaints and would like to see me about them, I should be glad to see him. There are long journeys in north Wales. However, on long journeys the rule is that there must be a stop at least every two hours so that prisoners can get out—[Laughter.]—together with their escorts, so that both may use the lavatory, have a drink and, if it is the appropriate time of the day, have a meal.

7. Mr. Ainger

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to end the remanding of juveniles into prison department establishments.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)

The Government are committed to ending juvenile prison remands as soon as enough local authority secure accommodation is available. We shall ensure that the extra places needed are provided as quickly as possible.

Mr. Ainger

Is the Secretary of State aware that it is almost two years since Phillip Knight from my constituency committed suicide in Swansea gaol at the age of 15 and that the Secretary of State's reply offers no hope to many juveniles currently on remand or in prison? Will he encourage his Department to introduce a scheme whereby we shall no longer see juvenile suicides in our prisons?

Mr. Clarke

I well remember that tragic case. Obviously, we must do everything possible to reduce the risk of repetitions of such cases when young people are held on remand. My answer referred to a specific scheme on which we have already embarked. Specific grants are available for local authorities to provide the necessary secure accommodation. We have already had discussions with the Department of Health. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and I will ensure, if we possibly can, that buildings are designed and constructed. The money is provided specifically so that we can replace remand into prison for juveniles by 1995 at the latest.

Mr. Watts

Will my right hon. and learned Friend also bear it in mind that many crimes are committed by juveniles and that many reoffend while on remand? Will he bear in mind the importance of protecting law-abiding citizens from such offences, as well as taking into account the welfare of juveniles who need to be remanded in custody?

Mr. Clarke

I agree with my hon. Friend. There is an unfortunate necessity to remand in custody a comparatively small number of juvenile offenders. The Criminal Justice Act 1991 made it clear that the ground for such remand should be that there was a threat to the public. There are more than 1,000 such cases each year. We need to provide some additional local authority secure accommodation before we can bring to an end the unsuitable practice of remanding people to adult prisons.

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