Prisons in parliament – 13 February

Questions raised over fate of EU nationals and drug users in prisons

brexit map mike steele

Question: What will happen to EU nationals after Brexit? Image: Mike Steele

Prisons in Parliament brings you up-to-date on the last week of politics and prisons. What’s been said? And by whom? Get it all here.

Last week was a short one in Parliament – it broke for February recess on Thursday 9. Even so it was a busy week, with the fate of EU prisoners and rehabilitation both scrutinised. And a significant announcement that an extra 2,500 prison officers will be hired was made by Liz Truss.

Will EU prisoners exit Britain?

Mark Harper, MP for Forest of Dean, asked what would happen to the 4,500 EU nationals who are in United Kingdom prisons, during the discussion of the Previous European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

He demanded to know what measures would “ensure that we can remove them”. He said:

“What arrangements will there be when we leave the European Union to ensure that we can remove them from the United Kingdom, which we can currently do under the EU prisoner transfer agreement?”

Matthew Pennycock, MP for Greenwich & Woolwich, said it depended on the terms of the sentence and whether the Government guarantees they will secure the rights of EU nationals.

“Polling by British Future shows that 84% of people, including 77% of leave voters, support the ability of existing EU nationals to stay in the UK,” he said.

Too late for drug rehabilitation?

In the House of Lords Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen asked whether it would be more beneficial to help prisoners with drug rehabilitation in prison rather than afterwards.

“By the time prisoners come out, it is often too late to try to treat their addictions,” she said.

Baroness Williams of Trafford agreed it was “absolutely right” that prisoners should receive treatment for both prevention and their drug use in prison. “Because when they come out of prison, it is very important that they have recovered from their drug use and the issues associated with it,” she added.

Extra 2,500 for new prison service

Meanwhile the justice secretary Liz Truss laid out her plans for a new body to replace the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) from 1 April.

The new HM Prison and Probation Service will be responsibility for all aspects of prisons and probation, she explained in written statement.

The reform aims to “professionalis[e] the prison and probation workforce” and comes with the backing of an extra £100 million a year and 2,500 additional prison officers.

More details are expected in the spring. But you can read her full statement below:

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Elizabeth Truss):

“A new Executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, called Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, will replace the National Offender Management Service from 1 April 2017. The service will be responsible for the roll out of the Government’s programme to improve the way we reform offenders to protect the public and tackle the unacceptable levels of reoffending. Michael Spurr will become the Chief Executive of the new HM Prison and Probation Service from 1 April 2017.

“HM Prison and Probation Service will have full responsibility for all operations across prison and probation. The Ministry of Justice will take charge of commissioning services, future policy development and be accountable for setting standards and scrutinising prison and probation performance.

“The creation of HM Prison and Probation Service will build a world-leading, specialist agency, dedicated to professionalising the prison and probation workforce, backed by an additional £100 million a year and 2,500 additional prison officers. The service will be a place that staff are proud to work, attracting the brightest and best talent to deliver modernised offender reform, strengthened security, counter-terrorism and intelligence capability.

“In recognition of the vital work carried out by prison and probation staff, new schemes to improve promotion opportunities have been launched, including enhanced professional qualifications for probation officers, a new leadership programme, an apprenticeship scheme to launch in April and higher pay and recognition for specialist skilled officers dealing with complex issues such as counter-terrorism, suicide and self-harm support and assessment.

“This forms part of our far-reaching organisational reforms to the system, which will make services more accountable to Ministers for delivery and performance. This will be further supported by measures within the prison and courts Bill, which will create a new framework and clear system of accountability for prisons.

“Probation services will also offer improved training and learning opportunities for offenders to ensure they do not return to a life of crime, working hand in glove with prisons to ensure a more integrated approach. We will set out more details later this spring.

“A key priority of HM Prison and Probation Service will be to focus on the particular needs of offenders. To meet the needs of women offenders across the whole system, for the first time there will be a board director responsible for women across custody and community. Sonia Crozier, Director of Probation, will take on this responsibility (reporting directly to the CEO) from 1 April 2017. We set out also in December 2016 the Government’s plans for the youth justice system, putting education and training at the heart of youth custody. We are working closely with the Youth Justice Board to review existing governance arrangements and will set out changes in due course.”

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