HC Deb 19 July 1977 vol 935 cc459-60W
Mr. Grocott

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what is the estimated cost of constructing the Gartree special security block; and what its operational costs will be when complete;

(2) when he expects work to be completed on the special security block at Gartree Prison;

(3) what will be the criteria used for placing prisoners in Gartree's special security block; and what right of appeal a prisoner will have against placement in it;

(4) how many of the cells in Gartree's special security block are (a) of the reinforced type known as strong boxes and (b) to be lined with polystyrene or a foam material;

(5) what the accommodation of the special security block currently being constructed at Gartree Prison will be.

Mr. John

There are no plans to build a special security block at Gartree Prison but a new segregation unit has been under construction to replace one housed in temporary accommodation. Segregation units in dispersal prisons were recommended by the Report of the Advisory Council on the Penal System on the Regime for Long-Term Prisoners in Conditions of Maximum Security. They are used for prisoners removed from association in accordance with Rule 43 of the Prison Rules 1964 and prisoners undergoing punishment involving cellular confinement. Any prisoner may at any time petition the Secretary of State against his location in the unit or apply to see a visiting officer of the Secretary of State or a member of the Board of Visitors.

The new segregation unit should be ready for use by September. The accommodation will comprise 25 cells with integral sanitation, two cells with vinyl padding and two cells without integral sanitation or fixed furniture, together with space for association, sanitary facilities, servery stores, staff rooms and an exercise area. All the cells have the same structural strength. The estimated cost of the unit is £395,000. The staffing complement has not yet been decided and it is not therefore possible to estimate the operational costs.

Mr. Grocott

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether it is intended to use drugs in the treatment of prisoners in Gartree's special security block;

(2) in what circumstances drugs are administered to prisoners against the prisoners' will.

Mr. John

Drugs are prescribed for prisoners only when in the clinical judgment of prison medical officers or other registered medical practitioners such treatment is justified for the restoration of health or the relief of symptoms. Drugs are rarely administered without the prisoner's consent and then only when otherwise life would be endangered, serious harm to the prisoner or others would be likely, or there would be an irreversible deterioration in his condition. These principles apply to all prisoners whether located in a segregation unit or not.

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