HC Deb 11 April 2002 vol 383 cc559-60W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on availability of sex offender treatment programmes in prison. [42891]

Beverley Hughes

There are five versions of the accredited Sex Offender Treatment Programmes (SOTP) delivered in prisons: a core programme for all except those with learning difficulties and those at low risk of re-offending; an adapted programme for those with learning difficulties; an extended programme for those at high risk of re-offending; a rolling programme for those at low risk of re-offending; and a booster programme for those who have completed other versions of the programme and are preparing for release.

The Prison Service's targets for numbers of prisoners completing versions of the programme in 2002–03 and 2003–04 are 950 and 1,240 respectively. Versions of the programme are currently delivered at 25 prisons. This is planned to rise to 27 prisons in 2002–03 and 28 in 2003–04. Prisoners may need to be transferred in order to undertake the programme.

It is not possible to be precise as to whether provision exactly meets demand. For example, the programme is also delivered to those serving sentences for other offences but who have previous histories of sexual offending; and some offenders have to be excluded from treatment temporarily or permanently because clinical assessment at the start of the programme is that they are unlikely to be responsive. However, the Prison Service keeps the programme under review to ensure its availability to all eligible prisoners with sentences long enough to complete it.

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 the 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.

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