HC Deb 02 March 1994 vol 238 cc733-4W
Mr. Spellar

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the reasons for the use of private hire vehicles for transporting James Hurley and other persons.

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 A. J. Butler to Mr. John Spellar, dated 2 March 1994:

The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about the reasons for hiring a private vehicle to transport James Hurley and other prisoners on 16 February.

A Prison Service secure cellular van would normally have been used for this escort, but it had been taken off the road on 15 February for emergency repairs to the heating system. The Metropolitan Police were approached for a replacement vehicle but they were unable to supply one. No other source for a cellular vehicle was available.

As on previous occasions when a cellular vehicle has not been available, a coach was hired from a private company with whom the Prison Service has a contract. The staffing level for a secure, cellular vehicle is normally one senior officer and two prison officers. The hired coach was staffed by an acting senior officer and four prison officers, the level of the escort having been increased because an open vehicle was being used.