HL Deb 24 February 1983 vol 439 cc926-7WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

(i) What consideration has been given to improving the security of the education block at Wakefield Prison, so that prisoners who are serious escape risks or who create serious problems for the good order of the prison, at present denied access to the block, could be accommodated there; (ii) what other building work they consider would be required so that security implications would no longer preclude all Category A prisoners from attending vocational training classes; (iii) what access to physical training is available to Category A prisoners, and how they consider this could be improved; and (iv) whether it is their policy to provide uniform standards of education and training at 11 dispersal prisons.

Lord Elton

The present education block at Wakefield prison is used by some prisoners in security Category A but their numbers have to be limited and those who present the most serious security risks and those who are segregated under Prison Rule 43 are excluded. These restrictions are primarily due to the difficulties of supervising such prisoners rather than any significant weakness in the physical security of the block. Improvements to the classrooms are proposed in the later stages of the long term redevelopment at Wakefield. There are restrictions on the number and type of prisoners who may participate in vocational and trade training courses. Trade training courses which involve on-site as opposed to workshop training are not available to Category A prisoners. This situation is unlikely to change at least until the redevelopment of Wakefield prison is completed.

Physical education is available to all Category A prisoners but the number who may participate at any one time is limited. It is expected that within a few weeks the sports hall will be brought back into use, and the redevelopment programme includes plans for a new sports hall which will further augment facilities.

While it would be desirable to provide a uniform high standard of education and training throughout the dispersal prison system, it is recognised that the facilities vary considerably from establishment to establishment and such a goal is unattainable in the forseeable future.