HC Deb 23 January 1997 vol 288 c736W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) in what circumstances the strip searching of prisoners is video recorded in Her Majesty's prisons; [10912]

(2) in which prisons the video recording of strip searching has (a) been authorised in the past and (b) is still authorised; [10913]

(3) how many prisoners have been video recorded while being strip searched; and how many prisoners have refused to be video recorded while being strip searched; [10914]

(4) how many prisoners have been fined for refusing to be strip searched before a video camera; and how many have had their fines returned. [10915]

Miss Widdecombe

[holding answers 17 January 1997]: Responsibility for these matters 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 A. J. Pearson to Mr. Kevin McNamara, dated 23 January 1997: The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Questions about the use of video during the strip searching of prisoners, how many have been video taped, the number fined for refusing and how many have had their fines returned. A closed loop video system was introduced at Long Lartin prison for use in the prisoners strip search room during random strip searches following visits. This was to both safeguard prisoners against abuses of procedure and to protect staff in the event of malicious and/or false allegations concerning propriety of a search. The closed loop nature of the system meant that strip searches could not be seen by staff. Video tapes were instead securely stored and filed. This limited scheme lasted four months, was evaluated and has now ended. There are no plans to repeat the scheme at Long Lartin prison or elsewhere. Two hundred and sixteen prisoners were video recorded while being strip searched. Of this number ten refused. Six prisoners had their earnings stopped or deducted on adjudications, following refusal to be strip-searched before a video camera. These adjudications have all been quashed. In each case the stopped or deducted earnings have been returned.

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