HC Deb 31 October 1989 vol 159 cc115-6W
Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has yet received the report of the working group on the management of vulnerable prisoners; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waddington

I have received this helpful and thorough report, copies of which are being placed in the Library. The study focused particularly on the arrangements concerning prisoners segregated for their own protection. The main improvements recommended, all of which I have accepted, with a procedural modification in respect of one, are:

  1. (a) Rule 43 of the prison rules to be amended (i) to allow authoritative directions on its interpretation to be given by the Secretary of State; (ii) to allow governors to authorise segregation for up to three days; and (iii) to remove an anomaly affecting young persons under 21 held in prisons and remand centres Young offender institution rule 46 also to be amended as at (i) and (ii). The aim of (i) is to be achieved by administrative guidance rather than by amendment of the rules;
  2. (b) a board of visitors, on a proposal of the governor, to be able to decide, in the light of facilities available, to dispense with rule 43 controls for a particular group of vulnerable prisoners;
  3. (c) present guidance on the personal legal liability of individual officers to be revised in supportive terms;
  4. (d) certain training prisons to be re-organised to take rule 43—own protection—prisoners, so that they can be allocated from local prisons in the normal way;
  5. (e) creation of a further vulnerable prisoner unit for about 100 category B prisoners;
  6. (f) improvements in regimes and implementation of proposed guidelines on best practice to be carried forward through governors' annual contracts for 1990–91 (earlier wherever possible), under the functional responsibility of a senior member of the management.

While certain recommendations requiring resources may take some time to implement fully, most of the 35 recommendations are resource-neutral and work on bringing them into effect has been put in hand.