HL Deb 02 May 2000 vol 612 cc152-3WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 10th April (WA5-6), why information on the number of persons held in police and court cells is no longer collected centrally, given that such cells are not designed for detention longer than overnight [HL2063]

Lord Bach

Some data collected centrally on numbers of persons detained in police or court cells may have ceased, although none so far has come to light. Certain central collections continue for specific purposes but they do not give figures for the numbers of persons by category detained in police or court cells.

In England and Wales there are two sources of central information. One source monitors the total number of prisoners held in police cells due to prison overcrowding (the number has been zero since June 1995 when the overspill from prisons ceased). The other source counts persons by age, sex and offence sentenced to "one day" either in a police or Crown Court cell where detention can last up to eight o'clock of the evening of the day of sentence.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland no data are available centrally in respect of court cells. In Scotland the only data available centrally in respect of police cells are on the basis of person nights in legalised police cells which fall under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Prison Service. Hence the data do not count persons and no data are available centrally on ordinary police cells.

In Northern Ireland annual totals are available for numbers of persons detained in police (PACE designated) cells for non-terrorist suspects and holding centres for terrorist suspects but this data cannot cent rally be broken down further.

Data on the number of persons held in police cells under Immigration Acts are not collected centrally by the immigration authorities since virtually all such persons are arrested and detained by the police and in such cases the immigration authorities will only get involved if asked to do so. In these circumstances, where detention is maintained, arrangements are made to transfer such persons into the immigration detention estate as soon as possible.