§ Mr. Beith
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many seconded probation staff were working in HM prisons in England and Wales on 31 December in each of the last four years; what plans he has to change numbers of seconded staff over the next two years; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. George Howarth
The numbers of seconded probation staff in prison establishments for the last four years ending 31 December, are as follows:
Year Number 1995 1639 1996 1568 1997 590 1998 657 1 Figures for 1995 and 1996 include probation seconded officers but not probation service officers which have been recorded only since 1997
The Prison and Probation Services have a joint commitment to the effective delivery of throughcare. The number of seconded probation staff in establishments is dependent on an annual contract between the Governor of the establishment and the Chief Probation Officer for the area. Staffing levels need to be flexible, to meet changing requirements.
Governors must adhere to the principles of the National Throughcare Framework Document—signed by the Prison and Probation Services—in determining the number of seconded probation staff needed to prepare ex-offenders adequately for post-release supervision.