HL Deb 16 December 1991 vol 533 cc45-6WA
Lord Gainford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have now considered the report of the security audit of arrangements for holding and managing Category A prisoners and the inquiry into the workings of DOC1 Division in Prison Service Headquarters conducted by Mr. Ronald Hadfield and Mr. Gordon Lakes.

Earl Ferrers

Mr. Hadfield and Mr. Lakes submitted their report on 1 November. It covers a wide field, ranging from detailed matters of physical security to wide-ranging proposals for collecting and disseminating intelligence. We are most grateful for the thorough way in which they have completed their work.

The report is both helpful and reassuring. Mr. Hadfield and Mr. Lakes indicate that they have found no evidence of general complacency about security standards and that governors are alert to security needs. Where they identified improvements in procedural and physical security which needed to be made, they communicated these to individual governors in the course of their inquiry. Many of their broader recommendations have already been implemented. Some with considerable resource implications will need to be prioritised; some involving building work will need to be phased into existing prison building and refurbishment programmes; and others will need to be the subject of consultation with prison governors and others in the Prison Service and, in some cases, outside.

There is only one recommendation which we have not accepted in its present form. With the aim of ensuring that attention is focused on prisoners posing the highest risk, Mr. Hadfield and Mr. Lakes proposed that standard risk Category A prisoners in dispersal prisons should be re-categorised "Category B (Dispersal)". While we fully support this aim, we are concerned that re-categorisation in the form recommended could give rise to operational uncertainty or confusion whenever these prisoners need to be transferred or detained outside these very secure establishments. We therefore intend to consult the governors of dispersal prisons and others to see whether the underlying aims of the recommendation can be met in another way.

As far as DOC1 Division is concerned, Mr. Hadfield and Mr. Lakes found staff there to be hard working and well motivated. They have however made recommendations relating to the strategic management of the division and proposals for a more systematic approach to the collation and dissemination of information and intelligence. A feasibility study into this latter proposal is already under way. All other recommendations have been accepted.

Mr. Hadfield and Mr. Lakes have prepared a version of their report which they have advised need not be withheld on grounds of security. We have accepted that view, and have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library.