HC Deb 09 June 1995 vol 261 cc342-3W
Mr. Heald

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the proposed national framework for incentives and earned privileges for prisoners. [28437]

Mr. Howard

A national framework for incentives and earned privileges for prisoners will be introduced across the prison system in England and Wales during 1995. It will ensure that prisoners earn privileges by responsible behaviour and participation in hard work and other constructive activity. More than 30 prisons will be implementing approved incentives and earned privileges schemes from July 1995. Amendments to prison and young offender institution rules will need to be in force from July and will be laid before Parliament later this month.

The national framework will include the following elements:

  1. (a) a clear set of national aims for incentives and earned privileges;
  2. (b) a list of key earnable privileges and instructions on their use, where they are provided at all;
  3. (c) instructions on the arrangements for the earning and losing of rewards. These will cover defining and measuring behaviour, decision making, appeals and administrative powers to remove privileges where prisoners do not meet the specified criteria for earning them. Governors will continue to have the disciplinary powers of forfeiture of privileges, recently increased from 28 to 42 days for specific offences; and
  4. (d) a system of effective monitoring and auditing.

There will be four key earnable privileges which, where provided at all, prisoners will have to earn within national instructions. These benefits, which will form the basis of three broad privilege levels to which prisoners will be allocated, are:

  1. (a)access to private cash above set minima;
  2. (b)extra or improved visits;
  3. (c)eligibility to participate in enhanced earning schemes; and
  4. (d)earned community visits—previously town visits—but only for category D prisoners and female prisoners and young offenders suitable for outside activities.

There will also be two key earnable privileges which will normally operate when all prisoners in a particular part of a prison have the same level of privilege. They are:

  • (e)own clothes. But women and the unconvicted will continue to have the option of wearing their own clothes; and
  • (f)time out of cell for association.

Changes in policy on private cash will be introduced in parallel to, and as part of, the phased introduction of the earned privileges policy. Prisoners will be able to spend their earnings but will be limited in the amounts they can spend from private cash according to their performance under incentives and earned privileges schemes.

Convicted prisoners will have their access to private cash capped at the rate of £2.50, £10 or £15 per week for the basic, standard and enhanced privilege levels respectively. Unconvicted prisoners will be able to spend more—£15 on basic and £30 on standard and enhanced levels—reflecting their unconvicted status. Exceptions will be made to meet a range of special circumstances such as those arising from legal proceedings; spending on telephone cards for foreign nationals; and clothing in establishments where prisoners wear their own and to meet the needs of mothers and babies. But, overall, the new arrangements will reduce prisoners' general purchasing power where this has been excessive in the past.