HC Deb 11 March 1998 vol 308 cc199-200W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a copy of advice issued in 1991 to prison governors encouraging them to provide training to staff on being a witness in court; and what monitoring is carried out to assess the effectiveness of such training. [32779]

Ms Quin

Circular Instruction 7/91 gives guidance to governors and staff in order to alleviate anxieties about the experience of appearing as a witness in court, and to avoid possibly prejudicing the outcome of a trial due to inappropriate behaviour. It was issued following the serious disturbances during April 1990 which resulted in unprecedented numbers of prison staff and prisoners being called as prosecution witnesses in criminal trials. Part 1 deals with prison staff appearing as prosecution witnesses and Part 2 relates to prisoners appearing as prosecution witnesses against other prisoners. A copy is available in the Library.

The Prison Service, in response to this Circular Instruction, provides staff with cards which give useful information to witnesses preparing to give evidence in court. No formal monitoring has been carried out to assess the effectiveness of such guidance.