HC Deb 11 June 2002 vol 386 cc1236-7W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the number of prisoners who have(a) drug and (b) alcohol problems; and what services are available to them. [59625]

Hilary Benn

Every prisoner on reception receives a health examination and during that assessment a prisoner will be encouraged to disclose any drug or alcohol misuse problem. Figures on those with substance misuse problems are not kept centrally. Epidemiological surveys show that around 80 per cent. of prisoners had used drugs prior to prison, with 54 per cent. admitting dependency. Random mandatory drug testing figures show that, nationally, 11.6 per cent. of prisoners tested positive for drugs in 2001–02.

An integrated range of drug treatment and support services is available to prisoners comprising: detoxification services available in all local and remand prisons; counselling, assessment, referral, advice and throughcare (CARATs) available in all prisons; 50 intensive treatment programmes; and voluntary drug testing programmes are available throughout the prison estate.

Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what percentage of prisoners had no fixed accommodation upon release from prison in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what services are available to find accommodation; [59626]

(2) how many prisoners left prison and went directly into employment in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what services are available to prisoners to find employment upon release from prison. [59624]

Hilary Benn

The Prison Service undertook a large-scale survey in November and December 2001 of sentenced prisoners nearing release. 33 per cent. said they did not have accommodation arranged on release. 24 per cent. said they had a job to go to on release and six per cent. a training place.

By comparison, in a prisoner resettlement survey conducted by the National Association for Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) in 1992,48 per cent. said they needed help with long-term housing and 89 per cent. were likely to face unemployment on release.

Many establishments provide services to help prisoners find accommodation and employment on release, often in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, the National Probation Service or voluntary sector organisations. These include housing advice centres, jobsearch training and support, and the piloting in eight prisons from summer 2002 of new technology giving access to Jobcentre Plus information on employment vacancies across the country. The Prison Service Custody to Work programme, with £30 million earmarked over 2001–04, is geared towards increasing the number of prisoners getting jobs or training places after release through the development of such resettlement activity.

Further impetus to improving the accommodation and employment services available to prisoners has been provided by the thematic review of resettlement published by the Inspectorates of Prisons and Probation in October 2001, and by the Social Exclusion Unit's current study on reducing re-offending by released prisoners, which is expected to report later in the year.

Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are in place for prisoners held in the high secure unit at HMP Belmarsh to take regular daily exercise; and how much fluid is available to each prisoner per day. [59867]

Hilary Benn

All prisoners in the High Secure Unit are able to have one hour of exercise in the open air each day. In addition they are also able, subject to staff availability, to attend the gymnasium three times each week. Each residential spur has either an exercise bike, rowing machine or step exerciser available for use by prisoners.

Every cell contains a cold water tap providing drinking water. Each residential spur also has a water heater to provide prisoners with hot drinks. To cover those periods when prisoners are locked in their cells, each person is provided with a vacuum flask so as to enable them to make hot drinks, for which purpose they each receive a weekly allowance of tea, coffee and powdered milk. Every day each prisoner will also receive one 200m1 carton of milk.

All prisoners are allowed to purchase items from the prison shop. Among items that are available are canned and bottled carbonated drinks as well as still drinks. Additional quantities of tea, coffee and hot drinks are also available for purchase.