HC Deb 13 March 1997 vol 292 c274W
Sir Ivan Lawrence

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedures and guidelines exist for the random or routine searching at prisons with a significant drugs presence of(a) prison officers, (b) other prison staff and (c) other persons visiting in an official capacity. [19761]

Miss Widdecombe

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 from A. J. Pearson to Sir Ivan Lawrence, dated 13 March 1997: The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about the searching of staff and official visitors. Guidelines for searching staff and visitors to prisons are contained in the Prison Service Manual on Security, copies of which are held in the Library of the House. These require the governor, in consultation with the area manager, to draw up a local searching strategy, including provisions for searching staff and visitors, to meet the particular security needs of the prison and to combat particular risks such as the illicit passage of drugs into the prison. In addition, following recommendations by Sir John Woodcock, visitors and staff seeking to enter dispersal prisons (including Belmarsh) are searched on each occasion of entering the prison. This will be extended to the five local prisons at which we plan to hold category A prisoners in future, once building work has been completed to allow the necessary space and equipment to be installed at the gate.

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