HL Deb 15 October 1996 vol 574 cc204-5WA
Lord Marlesford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why the computerised prison record system does not provide for externally generated unique identification numbers to be available for use at the point of first arrival of persons received into prison, whether it is planned to introduce such a capability and what is the maximum time under the present system for the local establishment number of a new entrant to a prison to be registered with the central computerised prison record system.

Baroness Blatch

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 to Lord Marlesford from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 1st August 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the use of externally generated unique identification numbers.

The use of externally generated identification numbers is unlikely to be practicable for a number of reasons. It is unlikely that an externally generated identification number could be given immediately and accurately and we could not be certain that other criminal justice agencies would be willing to release information. Other agencies also may not be able to give a prisoner number if details other than name are not known.

There are also certain categories of prisoner for whom no other identification number exists, for example foreign nationality prisoners.

A further technical difficulty of using externally generated numbers is that extensive changes to Prison Service computer programs would be required.

In view of these considerations, it is unlikely that the Prison Service would consider identifying prisoners by such a method.

There is normally no delay in registering an allocated prisoner number onto the computerised prison record system.