HL Deb 08 September 2003 vol 652 cc27-8WA
Lord Dholakia

asked Her Majesty's Government:

(a) What proportion of prisoners' complaints about racist incidents are upheld; (b) how many prison staff have been dismissed since April 2002 as a result of findings of racial discrimination or harassment at employment tribunals; (c) what systems exist in the Prison Service for staff and prisoners to report racist incidents to third parties; and (d) what figures are available on recalls to prison for breaches of parole, broken down by ethnic group.[HL3947]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

Prisoners' complaints about allegedly racist incidents are investigated locally by individual establishments and no central record is maintained about the number of incidents that are upheld. This information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Since April 2002, no member of prison staff has been dismissed for racial discrimination or harassment as a result of an Employment Tribunal. However, since April 2002, five members of staff have been dismissed for this type of offence as a result of internal disciplinary action under the Prison Service code of conduct and discipline. The dismissals arose because of two incidents of staff against staff; two incidents of staff against prisoners and one incident of staff against a member of the public.

Prisoners and staff can report racist incidents to a number of third parties. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman can investigate any incident on behalf of a prisoner once internal investigation procedures have been exhausted. Prisoners can raise any issues, including racial incidents, with the independent members board at any stage. Both staff and prisoners can report racist incidents to the Commission for Racial Equality. Serious racist incidents can also be referred through the Governor to the police.

The most recent period for which complete statistics are available on recalls to prison for breaches of parole, broken down by ethnic group are for the period 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003. During this period, there were a total of 420 prisoners recalled to prison as a result of breaching their parole. Their ethnic breakdown is as follows:

White 335
Black 57
South Asian 9
Mixed ethnicity 19