HC Deb 16 May 1990 vol 172 cc410-1W
Mr. Harry Barnes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many disabled people are in prisons; and what special arrangements are made for them.

Mr. Mellor

No records are kept centrally of the numbers of prisoners with disabilities, but such information as is available suggests that the numbers are relatively small. Prison establishments seek to meet the needs of those inmates on an individual basis—for example by providing books for the visually handicapped or by modifying cellular accommodation for those with mobility problems. Six establishments have toilets in the hospital area which are suitable for people with disabilities, and the standard brief for the design of future prisons provides for these and other facilities for the disabled.

Mr. Harry Barnes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance he has given concerning the sentencing of offenders who are disabled.

Mr. John Patten

Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the courts within their overall powers as laid down by legislation and in accordance with guidance given by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal has made it clear that, for all offenders, custody should be given only when necessary and that it should be no longer than necessary. The national standards for community service orders, which came into effect on 1 April 1989, asked probation areas to ensure that community service placements are available for disabled offenders.