HC Deb 27 July 1998 vol 317 cc31-2W
Mr. Flynn

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the use of ex-drug addicts and ex-prisoners in Downview, Pentonville and Coldingley for counselling prisoners; and what plans he has to extend the system to women's prisons. [52659]

Ms Quin

Work with prisoners addicted to drugs and/or alcohol is currently being undertaken by outside agencies in a number of prisons. In the prisons mentioned, treatment is carried out by the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners trust (RAPt), which has a policy of seeking to employ staff with personal experience of addiction. In many cases, these individuals have also experienced custody. RAPt believes that such individuals are particularly able to understand and motivate imprisoned addicts towards treatment. All of the counselling staff are fully trained counsellors and have to adhere to stringent professional guidelines. It is also a condition of their employment that they do not use illegal drugs or alcohol whilst working for RAPt, and have to submit themselves to security checks by the Prison Service.

The RAPt programmes at Coldingley and Downview have recently been evaluated by independent consultants employed by the Prison Service, and that evaluation indicated that the programmes were among the most effective currently operating in the British prison system.

The Prison Service is considering the use of peer support in its development of programmes for female prisoners.