HC Deb 23 March 2000 vol 346 cc679-80W
Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps have been taken to enhance the role of prison officers since the publication of "Prison Disturbances 1990: report of an Inquiry by the right hon. Lord Justice Woolf and His Honour Sir Stephen Tumim". [115617]

Mr. Boateng

Over the past 10 years, prison officers have become involved in a wider range of tasks, relating in particular to the rehabilitation of prisoners.

The personal officer scheme has sought to develop the relationship between staff and prisoners. The personal officer discusses and agrees a sentence plan with the prisoner; and also contributes to the risk assessment processes associated with release on temporary licence and with home detention curfew.

Prison officers play a key role in identifying those at risk of suicide or self-harm; and in supporting them through closer supervision and multi-disciplinary progress reviews. They act as tutors to the Prison Service's accredited offending behaviour programmes, where their training is integral to the accreditation process. Within the Service's drug strategy, they contribute to the multi-disciplinary counselling, assessment, referral, advice and throughcare (CARAT) teams and to the voluntary testing units, which support prisoners who wish to live in a drug-free environment.

The development of the prison officer's role has been supported by a range of training programmes, including in sentence management, substance awareness, suicide awareness, race relations and combating bullying. The Prison Service has developed a National Vocational Qualification in custodial care, which provides a systematic map of the range of skills and knowledge an officer needs. The enhanced role of officer is reflected in rigorous job simulation selection procedures, now used to select and promote all officers.