HC Deb 18 May 1993 vol 225 cc94-5W
Mr. Steinberg

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what statutory provisions apply to the use of mechanical restraints such as handcuffs by private security firms carrying out prison escort services; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the director general of the prison service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Gerry Steinberg, dated 15 May 1993:

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply directly to your recent Parliamentary Question about the use of restraints by contractors carrying out prisoner escort duties under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.There are no statutory provisions relating to the use of mechanical restraints by prisoner custody officers.Section 82(1) of the 1991 Act gives prisoner custody officers (PCOs) powers of search. Section 82(3) gives PCOs duties to prevent the escape of prisoners from lawful custody; to prevent the commission by prisoners of other unlawful acts; to ensure good order and discipline on the part of prisoners; and to give effect to any directions as to their treatment which are given by a court. Section 82(4) gives PCOs on court premises in which the Crown court is sitting the duty to give effect to any order of that court made under Section 34A of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973 (power of Crown court to order search of persons before it).Section 82(5) states that the various powers mentioned above shall include power to use reasonable force where necessary and it follows that force may include, in appropriate circumstances, the use of restraints.