HC Deb 22 January 1980 vol 977 cc101-2W
Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the general privileges removed from persons serving long-term prison sentences since May; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brittan

Revised instructions were issued to all prison department establishments last April with the aim of rationalising privileges and simplifying arrangements for their administration.

No privileges which were generally available in the prison system were withdrawn from long-term prisoners. Indeed, some privileges previously permitted only after completion of three years of a sentence are now allowed from the outset.

Many long-term prisoners serve their sentences in dispersal prisons where it has been the practice over a number of years to allow prisoners extra privileges including the right to retain rather more personal possessions than are generally permitted in the rest of the prison system. However, the range of items that prisoners may retain has varied substantially between dispersal prisons. In his report on the riot at Her Majesty's prison, Hull, the Chief Inspector of Prisons identified the disparity in this practice between the various dispersal prisons as a source of discontent in these prisons, and he recommended that there should be a greater uniformity of practice. The opportunity was taken to implement this recommendation when the revised instructions on privileges were issued. As a consequence of harmonisation, many long-term prisoners will benefit from the wider availability of additional personal possessions, but it would not have been possible to do this without withdrawing some items from a few prisoners in particular dispersal prisons, because the availability of these items could not be extended to all dispersal prisons.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the most recent data, for which figures are available, how many prisoners were (a) in cellular confinement as a punishment, (b) confined to cell because they had been deprived of associated work as a punishment, (c) segregated for their own protection, (d) segregated for the maintenance of good order and discipline, or (e) confined to their cells because they were unemployed owing to unavailability of work or of workshop staff, giving the figures for unconvicted and convicted separately if possible.

Mr. Britian

On 30 November 1979, 807 male and two female prisoners were segregated for their own protection; and 104 males and 9 females were segregated for the maintenance of good order and discipline. I regret that the other information requested is not readily available and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost.