HC Deb 01 March 2004 vol 418 cc751-2W
Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many foreign nationals committed suicide whilst in custody in England and Wales in each of the last five years. [155386]

Paul Goggins

The information requested with respect to prisons and immigration removal centres is provided in the following table.

Number of self-inflicted

deaths1 of foreign

nationals in prison


Number of self-inflicted

deaths of foreign

nationals in immigration

removal centers

1999 7 0
2000 5 1
2001 5 0
2002 10 0
2003 8 21
1 The Prison Service employs the term 'self-inflicted death' rather than suicide. This includes all those deaths where it appears the prisoner has acted intentionally to take his/her own life.
2 This death occurred at HM Immigration Removal Centre Haslar, a Prison Service managed centre.

The police do not collate data centrally on the number of foreign nationals who commit suicide in their custody.

Reducing the number of self-inflicted deaths in prison establishments is an essential part of the Prison Service's decency agenda and a priority for Ministers. A three-year strategy to develop policies and practices to prevent prisoner suicide and manage self-harm started in April 2001. This is currently under review, taking into account learning from the various projects initiated over the last three years, emerging research findings and a wide consultation process. The main principles of the strategy apply across all types of prisons and to all prisoners, regardless of nationality.

All immigration removal centres are required to comply with an Operating Standard on suicide and self-harm prevention, and a range of measures is in place to address the issue. These measures include: suicide awareness and emergency first aid training for staff, active Suicide Prevention Committees operating in all centres, and systems for paying particular attention to detainees on their first night in detention or immediately prior to their removal.

The police have also undertaken a number of initiatives to prevent self-inflicted deaths in their custody. These include: custody officer training in risk assessment and management, improvements in police practice in relation to the mentally ill, an increase in the range of custody healthcare professionals, improvements in procedures to assess and document specific risks presented by those coming into custody, the use of closed circuit television in cells, and the use in some forces of life signs monitoring systems.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are in place to help foreign national prisoners maintain links with their families. [155250]

Paul Goggins

The Prison Service places considerable importance on encouraging and assisting all prisoners to maintain meaningful contact with family and friends.

All convicted prisoners have a statutory entitlement to send one letter, and unconvicted prisoners, two letters per week, at public expense. In addition to this, prisoners may send a letter at public expense in lieu of a statutory domestic visit. In addition, there are several measures which are advantageous to foreign national prisoners: It is Prison Service policy for foreign national prisoners, or those prisoners with close family abroad, who have not received a domestic visit during the preceding month to be given credit to make a telephone call. Such prisoners are also exempt from the limits on access to private cash for the purposes of making telephone calls. The Prison Service has recently negotiated a contract to provide the facility for prisoners to make international calls at significantly reduced rates. Where suitable arrangements are in place, foreign national prisoners can also apply to serve their sentences in their home countries close to their families and friends. It is Prison Service policy, wherever possible, to make information available in different languages in order that foreign nationals are aware of entitlements. The Prison Service has developed partnerships with voluntary organisations which provide specialist services for foreign national prisoners and their families in the UK and abroad.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he monitors the number of foreign national prisoners who are liable to deportation. [155251]

Beverley Hughes

Her Majesty's prisons are instructed to notify the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) of all foreign nationals sentenced to a term of imprisonment, together with their release dates once calculated.

The Prison Service is currently conducting an audit to identify all foreign nationals who are serving a term of imprisonment.

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