HL Deb 26 January 1999 vol 596 c137WA
Lord Acton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the current position on the recommendations of General Sir John Learmont on the Prison Service. [HL710]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

General Sir John Learmont's report on the escapes from Parkhurst and the management of the Prison Service has had a huge impact. His findings, together with those of Sir John Woodcock's inquiry into the escape from Whitemoor in September 1994, have led to greatly improved physical security and a significant change in the way staff in prisons consider security as they go about their day to day tasks. The number of escapes, the measure by which the Prison Service is most often judged by the public, has dropped significantly since the report.

Of the 127 recommendations on prison security and the management of the service, 118 have been accepted in full, in part or with some qualifications. The position on each recommendation is set out in the document which has been placed in the Library. Those recommendations which have been accepted but have not yet been implemented in full will be taken forward within existing resources. A revised security manual has now been published which will tie up a number of outstanding matters. We have decided not to accept Sir John's proposals for a high security prison and a control prison, in the light of the significant improvements to security in the Category A estate and improvements in the management of the most seriously disruptive prisoners.

There remains one substantive recommendation on which we have asked for further work to be done—No. 63, proposing that all staff, including governors, should normally wear uniform. We hope to be able to announce a decision on this recommendation soon and a final report of the outcome of this inquiry will be provided then.