HC Deb 15 February 1996 vol 271 c702W
Mr. George Howarth

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) pursuant to his oral statement on 18 January,Official Report, column 893, if the policy of shackling pregnant prisoners whilst they are escorted to the hospital is still in force; [15000]

(2) if he will make it his policy that women receiving hospital and maternity care will be escorted by women officers. [14999]

Miss Widdecombe

Responsibility for these matters has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Richard Tilt to Mr. George Howarth, dated 15 February 1996: The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Questions about the treatment of pregnant prisoners. Except where there is a medical objection to using restraints or where the governor decides, following a risk assessment, that restraints are unnecessary, pregnant prisoners en route from closed prisons to hospital for antenatal or other appointments will normally be restrained on the journey to the hospital and on the way from the vehicle to the hospital waiting area, or hospital entrance in the case of women prisoners who are being taken to hospital to give birth. It is the Prison Service's policy that prisoners may be escorted by officers of either sex except where this would place the officer or the prisoner in an unreasonable position in terms of privacy or decency. For prisoners giving birth our aim is that both officers should be female, but sometimes, for example in the case of an emergency, there may not be sufficient staff on duty to allow this. In this situation, one of the officers must be a woman.