§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what discussions have been held on the impact on the effectiveness of Greater Manchester police as a result of extra duties relating to the holding of prisoners in police cells and as to what effect it will have on the prisoners, their families, and on solicitors and the probation service; and what discussions there have been about finding alternative accommodation;
(2) what discussions he has had with Greater Manchester Police about the number of people expected to be held in police cells in Greater Manchester for each of the next three years; how much this is expected to cost in police overtime; and how much will be spent in improving police cells during that period.
§ Mrs. Rumbold
Officials are in daily contact with the Greater Manchester police with a view to minimising the use of police cells for prisoners and any impact on police effectiveness, the prisoners, their families, solicitors and the probation service. The elimination of the problem depends on the provision of new or refurbished accommodation and the resolution of industrial relations difficulties in certain prisons in the north-west, where I hope that staff will note the comments of Lord Justice Woolf in his report that is being published today. The prison service is also actively reviewing the use of the prison estate in order to make the most effective use of the available accommodation. It is not possible to estimate centrally the extent to which police overtime may continue to be needed, and the amount to be spent on improving police cells is a matter for the police authority to determine in relation to other priorities. The costs incurred by the Greater Manchester police in keeping in police cells people who should be in prison are reimbursed by the prison service.