HC Deb 02 February 1995 vol 253 cc800-1W
Mr. George Howarth

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in implementing the chief inspector of prisons' recommendation of November 1994 in respect of monitoring of suicidal prisoners.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

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. George Howarth, dated 2 February 1995: The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your Question on the progress on implementing the Chief Inspector of Prisons' recommendation of November 1994 on the monitoring of suicidal prisoners. In his Annual Report for 1994, Judge Tumim commented that a better way of continuous monitoring of suicidal prisoners should be found. Twenty four hour monitoring is carried out where it is considered appropriate in the clinical judgement of the medical officer. However, care has to be exercised to ensure that lack of privacy does not create a feeling of oppression which exacerbates suicidal feelings. In November 1994 an Instruction to Governors was issued which prescribed that 15 minute watches should only be used as a supplement to other supportive precautionary measures, such as cell sharing.