HC Deb 11 April 2002 vol 383 cc558-9W
Mr. John Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the performance of contractors in delivering prisoners to magistrates courts in the West Midlands in good time for court hearings. [43425]

Beverley Hughes

Premier Prison Services, who operate the court escort contract in the west Midlands and mid Wales, are required to deliver prisoners to magistrates courts in their area 30 minutes before court start time. In the six months to February 2002 over 20,000 prisoners have been escorted by Premier Prison Services to those courts and of these approximately 82 per cent. have arrived by the time stated in their contract. A further seven per cent. have arrived before court start time.

All failures to meet the obligations placed on Premier Prison Services by the contract are examined by the Prison Service court escort monitor for the area and, where they are considered to be at fault, penalty points are imposed. If these exceed a prescribed level then financial remedies may be applied. Not all late deliveries are the direct fault of Premier Prison Services. Late discharges from prison, long journeys occasioned by the general population pressures on the prison estate and circumstances beyond the control of the parties involved may all be contributory factors in any individual case.