HC Deb 15 January 1996 vol 269 cc373-4W
Mr. Redmond

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what considerations led to adjudication in respect of punishment of prisoners at Doncaster prison being carried out by Home Office controllers; and what assessment he has made of the effect on discipline at the prison. [8055]

Miss Widdecombe

Responsibility for this matter 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 A. J. Butler to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 15 January 1996: The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the Office, to reply to your recent Question about adjudications at Doncaster prison being carried out by Controllers. The Criminal Justice Act 1991 specifically prevents Directors of contracted-out prisons from carrying out adjudications. This function is instead carried out by Controllers, in accordance with section 85(3) of the Act. To change this provision would require legislation to amend the Act. The power to adjudicate on prisoners is quasi-judicial and can, in some instances, mean detaining them in custody for longer as a consequence of a disciplinary award. In passing the 1991 Act Parliament has taken the view that only members of the judiciary and a limited number of state servants should have the power to take away a person's liberty. The Chief Inspector of Prisons also considered this matter during his inspection of other contracted-out prisons, at Wolds and Blakenhurst. He felt that the current arrangements offered the best safeguards for prisoners at present. There is no indication that discipline within the prison has been affected in any way by adjudications being carried out by the Controller.