HC Deb 29 April 1982 vol 22 cc316-7W
Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what legislative provisions govern the health and safety of staff and prisoners in Her Majesty's prisons.

Mr. Mayhew

The Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 is binding on the Crown—and therefore on to prison service—subject only to such exceptions, exemptions and qualifications as are provided in the Act. The Act's main obligations, which apply to the prison service are:

  1. 1. Section 2, which requires employers to safeguard so far as is reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare of the people who work for them.
  2. 2. Section 3, which requires employers to have regard so far as is reasonably practical for the health and safety of persons not in their employment—for example, prisoners—who may be affected by their activities.
  3. 3. Section 4, which requires each person who has, to any extent, control of premises where people work who are not in their employees—for example, inmates—to ensure, so far as is reasonably practical, that the premises are safe, and without risks to health.
  4. 4. Sections 7 and 8, which require employees to take reasonable care to avoid injury' to themselves or to others by their work activities and to co-operate with employers and others in meeting statutory requirements.

Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether prisons are treated differently from schools, hospitals and other residential establishments in respect of the legislation governing health and safety at work, public health and fire precautions.

Mr. Mayhew

The requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 apply to prisons as they do to other places of work. However, as with all Crown establishments, the enforcement provisions do not bind the Crown.

Acts concerning public health do not bind the Crown, but it has always been policy for the Crown to conform with their requirements where reasonably practicable.

All the types of premises to which the question refers are within the scope of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 but certain of its provisions do not apply to premises occupied by the Crown, including prisons and hospitals within the National Health Service. An additional limitation in the case of prisons is that a fire certificate cannot be required in respect of any premises constituting, or forming part of, such an establishment.

Number of prisoners* held overnight in police cells, 1–22 April 1982; by holding force
Date Metropolitan Surrey Sussex Essex Herts Thames Valley Total
1 April †66B 12W 1W 10W 1W 90
2 April 113B 17W 1W 7W 1W 139
3–5 April* 136B 18W 1B 1W 8W 4L 3B 1W 172
6 April 132B 22W 1W 8W 4L 3B 170
7 April 144B 24W 1W 8W 3L 2W 4W 186
8.12 April 86B 8w ¶7L 1W 102
13 April 65B 8W 73
14 April 28B 7W 1W 36
15 April 2W 2
16–18 April 23B 4W 27
19 April 23B 5W 28
20 April 12B 1W 13
21 April 14B 4W 18
22 April Nil


*No female prisoners have been held during April and unless otherwise indicated all are adult prisoners. Those destined for Brixton would generally be untried and those for Wandsworth would be convicted but unsentenced or sentenced. More detailed information is not available centrally.

†The symbol given after each number indicates the prison that would normally have received the prisoners as follows:

B—Brixton, W—Wandsworth, L—Lewes

‡ The figures given for the weekends relate to the Sunday night or, in the case of the Easter weekend, Easter Monday night.

║These seven prisoners destined for Lewes were under the age of 21.