Lucy Frazer debates with Ministry of Justice

There have been 47 exchanges between Lucy Frazer and Ministry of Justice

Tue 14th July 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 35 interactions (1,088 words)
Tue 9th June 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 31 interactions (1,386 words)
Tue 17th March 2020 Justice (Ministerial Corrections) 3 interactions (191 words)
Tue 25th February 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 61 interactions (1,666 words)
Tue 14th January 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 25 interactions (670 words)
Tue 8th October 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 72 interactions (1,963 words)
Tue 23rd April 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 55 interactions (1,658 words)
Wed 10th April 2019 Legal Aid for Inquests (Westminster Hall) 7 interactions (1,892 words)
Tue 12th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 41 interactions (1,204 words)
Mon 11th March 2019 Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [Lords] 6 interactions (1,762 words)
Tue 5th March 2019 Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [ Lords ] (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees) 2 interactions (371 words)
Mon 18th February 2019 Exiting the European Union (Mediation) 11 interactions (1,637 words)
Mon 11th February 2019 Legislation against Female Genital Mutilation (Urgent Question) 44 interactions (1,803 words)
Tue 5th February 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 21 interactions (490 words)
Wed 23rd January 2019 Courts IT System (Urgent Question) 39 interactions (1,901 words)
Wed 9th January 2019 Bailiffs: Regulatory Reform (Westminster Hall) 7 interactions (1,501 words)
Tue 18th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 86 interactions (2,134 words)
Wed 12th December 2018 Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill [Lords] 50 interactions (4,152 words)
Tue 4th December 2018 Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill [ Lords ] (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees) 33 interactions (5,032 words)
Tue 27th November 2018 Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill [Lords] 2 interactions (1,621 words)
Wed 21st November 2018 Rape Myths and Juries (Westminster Hall) 2 interactions (1,327 words)
Wed 21st November 2018 Leaving the EU: Legal Services (Westminster Hall) 3 interactions (938 words)
Tue 13th November 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 102 interactions (2,489 words)
Thu 1st November 2018 Future of Legal Aid (Westminster Hall) 13 interactions (1,901 words)
Tue 9th October 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 53 interactions (1,422 words)
Wed 5th September 2018 Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill 20 interactions (2,675 words)
Tue 4th September 2018 Legal Aid: Post-Implementation Review (Westminster Hall) 2 interactions (1,498 words)
Tue 24th July 2018 First-tier Tribunals and Freeholders 4 interactions (1,242 words)
Wed 18th July 2018 Domestic Abuse Victims and Family Courts (Westminster Hall) 5 interactions (1,593 words)
Thu 12th July 2018 Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill (Third sitting) (Public Bill Committees) 35 interactions (2,969 words)
Tue 10th July 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 33 interactions (696 words)
Tue 10th July 2018 Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees) 5 interactions (423 words)
Thu 21st June 2018 Court Closures: Calderdale 4 interactions (1,228 words)
Mon 18th June 2018 Upskirting (Urgent Question) 57 interactions (1,773 words)
Tue 5th June 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 69 interactions (1,526 words)
Wed 16th May 2018 Housing and Access to Legal Aid (Westminster Hall) 5 interactions (1,685 words)
Tue 8th May 2018 Criminal Legal Aid 19 interactions (1,761 words)
Wed 2nd May 2018 Access Rights to Grandparents (Westminster Hall) 9 interactions (1,516 words)
Tue 24th April 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 83 interactions (1,894 words)
Thu 29th March 2018 Leaving the EU: Justice System (Westminster Hall) 11 interactions (1,526 words)
Wed 28th March 2018 Leaving the EU: Legal Services (Westminster Hall) 8 interactions (1,512 words)
Tue 27th March 2018 Court Closures and Reform (Westminster Hall) 9 interactions (1,563 words)
Tue 27th March 2018 Legal Aid: Birmingham Pub Bombings (Westminster Hall) 11 interactions (1,463 words)
Tue 6th March 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 33 interactions (633 words)
Thu 8th February 2018 Environmental Audit Committee 3 interactions (32 words)
Thu 25th January 2018 Joint Enterprise 5 interactions (1,465 words)
Tue 23rd January 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 41 interactions (861 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Lucy Frazer Excerpts
Tuesday 14th July 2020

(1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Ministry of Justice
Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones (Croydon Central) (Lab) - Hansard

What steps his Department is taking to support children and young people who come into contact with the criminal justice system. [904675]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard

Fortunately, the number of children coming into contact with the criminal justice system is reducing; offences committed by children have fallen by 76% over the last decade. We have allocated £72 million this year for youth offending teams to provide support for children who have offended, to help them turn around their lives.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones - Hansard

Following the Black Lives Matter movement, in Croydon we have held a series of quite urgent meetings to look at the system and what we can do to improve things—the police, the youth offending teams and community groups. One of the issues that the youth offending service has identified is that a lot of young people who come into contact with it but just brush the system and do not end up being charged with any offences have significant problems, whether with trauma, abuse or bereavement, and need intervention at that point, before they are criminalised. Will the Minister look at increasing the support given to our young people at that stage?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

The hon. Member makes a really important point on both how we ensure that there is not racial disparity in those who enter the criminal justice system and how we divert people away from it. She will be pleased to know that over £220 million has been invested in early intervention, including £200 million in the youth endowment fund to support those most at risk of being drawn into crime.

Sir Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con) - Hansard

The Minister will be well aware that although the number of young people coming into contact with the system has reduced, very often they present much more complex and challenging cases, not least because of the data recently published by the Youth Justice Board showing a large number of pre-existing problems that are there before they come into contact with the system. Given that, does she accept that it is necessary not just to continue the existing measures of diversion, but to pull those together into a much broader, overarching strategy for young people and children in the justice system—not just up to the age of 18, as is the case at the moment, but, given the evidence we have on maturity, beyond that, perhaps into the early 20s or even to 25, as evidence that the Justice Committee has strongly supports?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

As usual, my hon. Friend the Chair of the Justice Committee makes a number of important points. He is right to identify that the people coming into custody, because there are fewer of them, have committed more serious crimes—often violent crimes—and are very complex to deal with. He is right to point out the importance of the transition between youth custody and adult custody, and that is something we are looking at very closely. The Youth Custody Service is currently looking at improving the transition in prison from youth to adult custody, and at the feasibility of introducing an integrated healthcare model for young adults based on the system that is currently operated in the youth custody estate.

Peter Kyle Portrait Peter Kyle (Hove) (Lab) - Hansard

Over 60,000 children were arrested last year in England and Wales but only 118 parenting orders were issued. That is less than 10% of the figure in 2009. How can a troubled young person turn around their life if the Government are not doing everything they can to help them?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

The hon. Member makes a very important point. I was pleased to discuss a number of issues that cross our portfolios yesterday. He makes an important point about looking at the whole system and at where a young person will return to—the parents, the family, the community and the friends that they will return to. If we manage to overcome their issues in custody, we need to ensure that they do not return to crime on coming out. Oasis, the company that is providing the secure schools that we are looking at very closely, wants to ensure that there are places for people to stay when they come and visit their children, but it also wants to work with them when they visit to ensure that there is that support on going out. The hon. Member makes a very important point about parenting orders, which we are looking at.

Stuart C McDonald Portrait Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) (SNP) - Hansard

What recent discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on proposals to update the Human Rights Act 1998. [904676]

Break in Debate

Laura Farris Portrait Laura Farris (Newbury) (Con) - Hansard

What steps his Department is taking to tackle radicalisation in prisons. [904677]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard

We take the threat posed by terrorist offenders very seriously. We utilise a range of rehabilitative tools, which include psychological, theological and mental health interventions. In January, the Government announced a number of additional measures for dealing with terrorist offenders, including increasing the number of counter-terrorist specialist staff in our prisons.

Laura Farris Portrait Laura Farris - Hansard

In the last eight months, we have seen terrorist attacks in Streatham, Fishmongers’ Hall and, most recently, Forbury Gardens, where the assailant either had just been released from prison, or was out on licence. What improvements does my hon. and learned Friend think could be made to de-radicalisation programmes to prevent these lone wolf, post-release attacks?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

My hon. Friend makes an important point about the tragic incidents that we have seen over recent months. She rightly highlights de-radicalisation programmes. Twenty-two trained imams are doing de-radicalisation programmes in our prisons, but those are not the only measures that we are introducing. We have increased our training for prison and probation officers to deal with terrorism and we are bringing in new national standards for managing terrorists on licence. We want more counter-terrorism specialist staff and we want more places in approved premises as a transition from prison to the community. In addition to that, counter-terrorism police funding is increased this year by £19 million.

Alex Cunningham Portrait Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab) - Hansard

There was much discussion around the inadequacy of de-radicalisation work in prison during the Committee stage of the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, both in evidence and in debate. We heard that these programmes are not entirely fit for purpose and not always readily available. Clearly, they need a good overhaul—perhaps even more so given the new, longer minimum sentences. The hon. Member for Newbury (Laura Farris) certainly seems to agree with that. Sadly, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Croydon South (Chris Philp). rejected our amendment in Committee to undertake a review to examine the effectiveness and availability of de-radicalisation programmes in prison. Will today’s Minister accept that they do need to be improved and launch the review that is needed?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
14 Jul 2020, 12:07 a.m.

We have increased the number of imams operating the de-radicalisation programmes. We are looked at, and looked towards, by others internationally in relation to the programmes that we operate. Of course, we continually evaluate the programmes that we operate within our prisons.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young (Redcar) (Con) - Hansard

What steps his Department is taking to increase support for victims of crime. [904678]

Break in Debate

Sir David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) (Con) - Hansard

What steps his Department has taken to protect prison staff during the covid-19 outbreak. [904682]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard

I take this opportunity to thank our prison staff and those who work in probation for the outstanding job they have done to keep our prisons and those in the community safe. We have taken a range of measures to protect staff from the virus, including reducing the risk of transmission in prisons, led by Public Health England guidance, and making personal protective equipment and testing available. The latest Public Health England advice indicates that the measures we have taken have had a positive impact on limiting the spread of the virus.

Sir David Evennett [V] - Hansard

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for her response and join her in praising prison staff for all the work they have done during this difficult time. What is the plan to continue to protect prison staff as restrictions start to lift and life goes back to near-normal?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

As my right hon. Friend highlights, as restrictions are lifted in the community, so we need to lift restrictions in prisons, too, but we need to do so cautiously to ensure that we do not increase the risk of infection. Where prisons are starting to open up—for example, to introduce visits—adaptations are being made to ensure that the risk of infection to staff and prisoners is minimised.

Mr David Lammy Portrait Mr David Lammy (Tottenham) (Lab) - Hansard

On 5 May, the shadow Minister for Prisons and Probation, my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Ms Brown), wrote to the Department regarding concerns about the treatment of cleaners at Petty France during the pandemic. The Secretary of State’s reply on 29 May made it clear that he thought there was no issue in terms of management, access to personal protective equipment, social distancing or sick pay. However, hours of interviews and leaked emails and text messages confirmed that cleaners were forced into the Department during the lockdown period, denied PPE, offered no support and had medical issues consistent with coronavirus symptoms. Seven outsourced staff on the site have had those consistent symptoms; two are now dead. The Department had to be guilt-tripped into backdating sick pay. Will the Minister live up to the Ministry of Justice’s name by committing to a full independent review as to what happened to those cleaners working in the Ministry of Justice?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

As the right hon. shadow Secretary of State has mentioned, these matters have been looked at. I am happy to take on board any further points that he would like to make.

Andrew Lewer Portrait Andrew Lewer (Northampton South) (Con) - Hansard

What steps his Department is taking to increase the length of prison sentences for terror offences. [904688]

Break in Debate

Richard Burgon Portrait Richard Burgon (Leeds East) (Lab) - Hansard

What plans he has to improve links between probation services and (a) local employers, (b) adult education colleges, (c) health authorities and (d) jobcentres. [904707]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard

Joining up probation to other community services is critical. The new model for probation will allow us to build on local links that have already been forged. In the future probation system, more than £100 million a year will be spent on specialist rehabilitative and resettlement services, including education and employment.

Taiwo Owatemi Portrait Taiwo Owatemi - Hansard

Our recovery from this crisis will require support for all our constituents to get back into well-paid, good-quality jobs. We have to break the cycle of reoffending and ensure that when people leave prison, they have the help and support that they need to get back into work, so that they do not fall back into a life of crime and misdemeanours, which does none of us any good. Will the Minister guarantee that our agencies are linked to provide proper opportunities to turn former reoffenders’ lives around? Will she guarantee that the renationalisation of the probation service will not be used as an excuse for any more cuts, and will instead be used to work towards an improved and better staffed, trained and managed National Probation Service?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
14 Jul 2020, 12:09 p.m.

The hon. Member makes a number of points in her question. I would like to assure her that we are committed to ensuring that people who come out of prison are rehabilitated, get jobs and turn away from crime. We recently launched the New Futures Network, which is dedicated to establishing the links between prisons, prisoners and local employers. In relation to investment in the new probation service, I am sure that she has seen that we are investing an additional £155 million in probation over the course of the year.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Jul 2020, 12:10 p.m.

I have spent time with Newcastle probation services, and I know just how dedicated the people who work for them are, but they are now being expected to pick up the pieces of the Government’s disastrous privatisation of the service, as well as integrating released offenders into a “new normal” of society post covid that is not normal at all. Will the Minister set out exactly how funding will be made available to ensure that there are links with, in particular, further education colleges in Newcastle so that offenders who are released can have a chance of rehabilitation and jobs in a post-covid world?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Jul 2020, 12:11 p.m.

Like the hon. Member, I pay tribute to the dedicated work of all those who have been working in the community rehabilitation companies across the country and, indeed, the National Probation Service. I welcome the work of the CRC in her area. As I mentioned, £100 million has been put forward for the new scheme—the dynamic framework, which has already been launched—so that local voluntary sector and private companies can bid to provide local services in communities. I look forward to seeing their bids.

Richard Burgon Portrait Richard Burgon [V] - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Jul 2020, 12:12 p.m.

The Government were warned repeatedly that privatising probation would be a disaster—that it would cost more and leave the public less safe. The Government not only ignored those warnings but spent years ignoring the mounting evidence of their failed policy. They have practically had to be dragged kicking and screaming to finally agree to reverse this catastrophic privatisation. If they are finally going to properly sort out rehabilitation, is it not time to end, once and for all, the racket of mega-corporations like Sodexo, Serco and G4S profiting from our prisons and probation services?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Parliament Live - Hansard

We believe that we should provide good services, whether that is by the public sector or by the private sector. We have in operation some excellent public service prisons, as we do some excellent private sector prisons. We are very pleased that we are integrating probation into the public service, providing a very important role, but we will continue to ensure that private sector companies and local voluntary sector companies can bid for rehabilitative services through the £100 million dynamic framework.

Derek Twigg Portrait Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab) - Hansard

If he will undertake a review of the process of appealing a coroner’s decision not to hold an inquest. [904691]

Oral Answers to Questions

Lucy Frazer Excerpts
Tuesday 9th June 2020

(2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Ministry of Justice
Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab) - Hansard

What recent assessment he has made of the trends in the level of violence on the secure estate for young people. [902952]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard

Levels of violence in our youth estate are too high. We are determined to improve safety by investing in staff, education, psychology services and mental health support and by trialling secure schools, with the first to open at Medway. I was pleased to read parts of the inspector’s report after he attended Cookham Wood, Wetherby and Parc young offenders institutions as part of a number of scrutiny visits last month, in which he described all three sites as “calm and well ordered”, and he saw staff interacting with children in a “caring, patient and professional” way.

Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Lewell-Buck - Hansard

In January, inspectors found that children were being confined in their cells for up to 23 hours per day and were subject to restraint techniques that cause injury and serious harm to children. The Government know that, and yet they continue to permit the use of those techniques. This is state-sanctioned child abuse. The Charlie Taylor review was due to report on this last summer. Where is that report?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

The hon. Member is right to point out a number of reports in this area. Her Majesty’s inspectorate of prisons thematic report in January on the separation of children in YOIs made very difficult reading. Because of that, we took a number of immediate actions, including enhancing local and national oversight and establishing standardised monthly data collection on separation. We commissioned Charlie Taylor to conduct a review into the use of pain-inducing techniques, and we will be publishing that report very shortly.

Sir Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con) - Hansard

I appreciate that, as the number of young people in the secure estate has reduced, the cohort has become often more difficult to deal with. None the less, during its current inquiry the Select Committee has heard compelling evidence that violence remains too high. One of the concerns about Cookham Wood, which the Minister referred to, is the shortage and regular redeployment of staff—the churn and the inability to build relationships. Will the Minister look again at the need for a serious approach—a proper strategy for staffing in all our prisons but especially in the secure estate, where the building of relationships is particularly important.

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
9 Jun 2020, 12:07 a.m.

My hon. Friend the Chair of the Select Committee recognises an important point. We are ensuring at the moment that we do not send young people to custody unless they have committed the most serious crimes. As a result, more than 50% of the youth in our estate have committed violent crimes. That leaves us with a challenging cohort. We want to provide more bespoke, individual support with early interventions for those in our care. As my hon. Friend will know, we are committed to establishing secure schools, which would expand our focus on education and individual support.

We have increased staffing in the youth estate by 27% and we are professionalising that service with a new foundation degree to ensure that those who work in our youth custody services deliver the right support.

Mr David Lammy Portrait Mr David Lammy (Tottenham) (Lab) - Hansard
9 Jun 2020, 12:02 a.m.

As children in the general population continue to return to school, those in youth offender institutions remain locked up in their cells for almost the whole day, without any access to education. An inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons last month found that children in Cookham Wood were spending just 40 minutes out of their cells. Can the Minister confirm that that was immediately rectified? The Children’s Commissioner for England found

“serious consequences for children’s rights, well-being and long-term outcomes”

and said that

“family and professional visits have been severely curtailed.”

As the Government prioritise returning children to school, will the Minister give me a date by which she expects all children in custody to have access to education, activities and family and professional visits?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
9 Jun 2020, 12:09 a.m.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his questions, which are on a very important subject. He is right to say that in the youth estate, as in the adult estate, we took severe measures when we realised that we were facing a pandemic. We took those measures to save lives. We were looking at 2,500 to 3,500 deaths across the estate, so we took drastic action that we considered very carefully, which resulted in a severe lockdown. Although every death is tragic, as a result of the lockdown we have suffered only 23 deaths in our prison estate.

The right hon. Gentleman is right to identify, as the inspector pointed out, that there was a lockdown in the children’s estate, with only a small amount of time out of cell. I am pleased to say that that time has increased as the lockdown has continued, and in YOIs children are now let out for between two and three and a half hours every day. In the secure children’s homes there is almost a normal regime, with 12 to 14 hours out of cell. We have published our national strategy for recovery, and visits and education will be some of the first things that return in the children’s estate.

Mr David Lammy Portrait Mr Lammy - Hansard

These extra limits on contact must mean that now, more than ever, holding children in custody should be a last resort. One third of all children on the youth estate are being held on remand without a sentence. We know that two thirds of them will not receive a custodial sentence. With criminal trials slowly being restarted, what action is the Minister taking, along with the Lord Chief Justice, to ensure that children held on remand are prioritised for criminal trials?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that custody should be a last resort. I am pleased to say that it is a last resort, which is why we have a much smaller number of youth in custody at the moment: just over 700 across our estate. He makes an important point about remand, and I am pleased to say that, certainly in the adult estate, the judiciary have looked at and fast-tracked remand cases. I am also pleased to report that the Youth Justice Board has looked at those who are currently held on remand, and the youth offending teams will be reviewing whether any applications can be made to help those people who are on remand and can be released back into the community.

Alexander Stafford Portrait Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley) (Con) - Hansard

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that it is vital that prison officers have the right skills to manage young people? How are we training prison officers who work on the youth estate to ensure that we cut future offending rates and increase rehabilitation?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

My hon. Friend makes an important point about the training of prison officers: it is important that they get the right training to help turn lives around. We have introduced a new youth justice specialist role, with funding for every prison officer in youth custody services to take up a foundation degree in youth justice. Thirty people have completed it and 400 have started the training.

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler (Brent Central) (Lab) - Hansard

What steps he is taking to ensure that rehabilitation and education programmes for prisoners continue during the covid-19 outbreak. [902953]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard

In prison, as in the community, there have been restrictions, which have been designed to keep prisoners and staff safe from covid-19. We have taken unprecedented action and we have saved lives. As in the community, it has required the temporary suspension of classroom education. Education providers are working with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service to deliver in-cell packs to support learning. We published our national framework for recovery last week and hope to bring back youth education in the next phase, with the adult estate following in this phase after that.

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler - Hansard

Education is key if we are to curb reoffending. The Government have talked about schools restarting, some last week and some on Monday. It is vital that we have education in prisons, so when will the Minister ensure that that happens? In addition, when will the Minister ensure that testing is available in prisons?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

Those are two important points. On education, I completely agree with the hon. Lady that education is important to the reduction of reoffending. As I mentioned, we have set out in our national framework what provision we can bring back safely, and in the first phase we will bring back education in the youth estate. On testing, we already have some testing of prisoners in prisons, and testing is available to our staff. We will roll out increased testing in prisons as matters progress.

Tracey Crouch Portrait Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) (Con) - Hansard

In Kent, Surrey and Sussex, the rehabilitation and education of offenders continues once they are released from prison, thanks to our excellent community rehabilitation company, which has also altered its practices to ensure that it can maintain some level of contact throughout the covid pandemic. In May, the CRC contacted the Ministry of Justice contract managers to ask whether a temporary change to unpaid work rules could be implemented in order to deploy people sentenced to community payback with small farmers and help with the Pick for Britain initiative. Such a change could provide an estimated 190,000 hours of work. Has the Minister had the opportunity to talk to colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about that suggestion, which would not only help offenders to complete their rehabilitation but benefit our farmers, who are desperate for workers?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

My hon. Friend and other Members who represent Kent, Surrey and Sussex work closely with their CRC. We are looking carefully at how we can support the farming industry and other key sectors at this time. In particular, we want to encourage ex-offenders into permanent agricultural employment. The Secretary of State and I have had discussions on the issue with our counterparts at the Department for Work and Pensions. The New Futures Network, which organises links between prisoners, prisons and employers, is in active discussions with the National Farmers Union.

Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab) [V] - Hansard
9 Jun 2020, 12:04 a.m.

May I thank you, Mr Speaker, for all the work you have done to ensure that I once again have the opportunity to represent my constituents virtually? Thank you.

Worryingly, prisoners are getting less than 30 minutes out of their cells each day during the current covid-19 crisis. What is the Minister doing to ensure that all prisoners have access to specialist mental health support and can continue to learn vital skills for future employment, thus helping to break the cycle of reoffending?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

I thank the hon. Lady for her questions. It is right to point out that, when the crisis first hit, we did significantly reduce our regimes in prisons, but prisoners should have access to the basic needs and should continue to do so, including in relation to food, showers and exercise. They will have access to healthcare in a number of ways. We have introduced in-cell telephony, which helps support the healthcare they get and to support their mental health through the Samaritans helpline and the Listener scheme that we operate in prisons. We are also able to continue some of our offender management programmes on a one-to-one basis. We set out our national framework for recovery last week, and we are very much looking forward to reintroducing those aspects that are most vital to prisoners to help them get on with their lives.

Mark Pawsey Portrait Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con) - Hansard

There are some great examples of rehabilitation programmes. One is at HMP Onley, where the charity Futures Unlocked and Rugby rotary club are collecting unwanted bicycles left at Rugby railway station, which are taken to the prison for refurbishment to provide purposeful work. Unfortunately, that project is temporarily suspended, as there has been the challenge of being able to collect the bicycles under the current measures. Will the Minister join me in hoping that steps can be taken to get that project up and running again at the earliest opportunity?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

I am aware of the scheme, which is a great example of joint working between HMP Onley, Virgin Trains and Halfords. HMPPS has partnerships with over 300 such organisations, which provide daily work in prisons in normal times, and we value these partnerships enormously. Workshops have been closed in response to the pandemic, but last week, as I have mentioned, we published a national framework setting out how we will ease the restrictions, which we will do as soon as it is safe to do so.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

What assessment he has made of the adequacy of personal protective equipment for (a) prison and (b) probation staff during the covid-19 outbreak. [902955]

Break in Debate

Sir Desmond Swayne Portrait Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West) (Con) - Hansard

What steps he is taking to increase prison capacity. [902973]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard

Mr Speaker, I know the subject of court reopenings is very close to your heart.

To support the Prime Minister’s commitment to crack down on crime, we are investing up to £2.5 billion to provide 10,000 additional prison places. Construction for our prison at Wellingborough has continued safely since restrictions were imposed in March, and in May we started on early works for our prison in Glen Parva.

Sarah Atherton Portrait Sarah Atherton - Hansard

Will my hon. and learned Friend please provide an update on the women’s residential centre pilot scheme, which is due to be located in Wales?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

As my hon. Friend will know, on 5 May I announced our commitment to locate the first residential women’s centre in Wales, and we are now working closely with our Welsh partners to develop a detailed proposal for the site in Wales. Our intention is for that to open by the end of 2021. I am grateful for her continued interest, and I look forward to meeting her to discuss it next week.

Sir Desmond Swayne Portrait Sir Desmond Swayne - Hansard

No additional capacity will be had by increasing early release, will it?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

As my right hon. Friend will know, we have tried to increase headroom in the estate through a variety of mechanisms, and our early release scheme is one of those. We are continuing to operate that scheme.

Jessica Morden Portrait Jessica Morden (Newport East) (Lab) - Hansard

What steps his Department has taken to ensure access to justice during the covid-19 outbreak. [902963]

Justice

Lucy Frazer Excerpts
Tuesday 17th March 2020

(5 months ago)

Ministerial Corrections
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Ministry of Justice
Mr Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Hollobone -

Foreign national offenders convicted in this country should serve their terms of imprisonment at the expense of their own Governments in their own countries. We may have 110 prisoner transfer agreements, but only about three are compulsory. Now that we have rediscovered our mojo for tough international renegotiation, can we please have more compulsory prisoner transfer agreements with high-volume crime countries with lots of nationals in our prisons, such as Pakistan, Nigeria and Albania?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer -

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of removing foreign offenders to serve sentences in their own countries, and we have removed 51,000 such offenders from our prisons since 2010. He is right to highlight that we have a number of nationalities within our prisons, including a high number of Albanian, Polish and Romanian prisoners. We are considering all these matters in some detail.

[Official Report, 25 February 2020, Vol. 672, c. 170.]

Letter of correction from the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, the hon. and learned Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Lucy Frazer).

An error has been identified in the response I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone).

The correct response should have been:

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of removing foreign offenders to serve sentences in their own countries, and we have removed 51,000 such offenders from our prisons, immigration removal centres and the community since 2010. He is right to highlight that we have a number of nationalities within our prisons, including a high number of Albanian, Polish and Romanian prisoners. We are considering all these matters in some detail.

Oral Answers to Questions

Lucy Frazer Excerpts
Tuesday 25th February 2020

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Ministry of Justice
Clive Efford Portrait Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab) - Hansard

3. What assessment he has made of the effect of longer prison sentences on the deradicalisation of prisoners. [900813]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:39 a.m.

In order to protect the public, it is vital that those who are convicted of terrorism offences serve a longer proportion of their prison sentence in prison and are subject to release after an assessment by the Parole Board. Experience shows that the path towards deradicalisation is very complex, and interventions need to be provided over a significant period to have an impact on rehabilitation.

Clive Efford Portrait Clive Efford - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:40 a.m.

I am grateful for that answer, but surely the purpose of putting someone who needs to be deradicalised in prison and lengthening their sentence has to be to give a greater opportunity for deradicalisation. What resources will be made available to people serving longer sentences to make that deradicalisation effective?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:40 a.m.

The hon. Member will know that in January we announced a £90 million package of measures to counter extremism. Within that, there is a £3 million package for specialist intervention—counter-terrorism programmes and intervention centres—to build an evidence base for what works. We are also training our prison officers to assess when there are incidents, report them and challenge terrorist behaviour.

Sir John Hayes Portrait Sir John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings) (Con) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:41 a.m.

When the Lord Chancellor introduced the Bill to curtail the early release of prisoners with his usual mix of alacrity and wisdom, I suggested on Second Reading, based on information from the House of Commons Library, that about 160 people might have been released early. Since then, having received further advice from our excellent Library experts, it has become clear that the Home Office quarterly report does not distinguish between early release and all release. Will the Minister take the opportunity to set the record straight by telling the House exactly how many prisoners have been released before serving their full custodial term of sentence in each year since 2013?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:41 a.m.

My right hon. Friend has a lot of experience in this area, having been the Minister for Security, and I was very pleased to work with him on the Investigatory Powers Bill. He is right to highlight that very important point. We are looking into this matter and I am very happy to write to him with the precise details in due course.

Mr David Lammy Portrait Mr David Lammy (Tottenham) (Lab) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:42 a.m.

The Minister will know that the Prime Minister David Cameron asked me to carry out a review of disproportionality in the justice system. It showed a very worrying rise not just in disproportionality for all ethnic minorities but in the Muslim population in our prisons. Will the Minister ask the Secretary of State to meet me to discuss the Department’s progress on the review, a review that successive Secretaries of State have taken very seriously?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

We were very happy to receive the right hon. Member’s review in 2017 on ethnic minority individuals in the criminal justice system and have acted on many of its recommendations. We recently published an update on progress across the Lammy recommendations, which demonstrates a range of work. I am very happy to meet him. I do not make that offer on behalf of the Secretary of State—[Interruption.] I hear that the Secretary of State is also happy to meet him to discuss the very important work on this area.

Mrs Flick Drummond Portrait Mrs Flick Drummond (Meon Valley) (Con) - Hansard

4. What plans he has to help reduce prisoner reoffending. [900814]

Break in Debate

Dr Caroline Johnson Portrait Dr Caroline Johnson (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con) - Hansard

5. What steps his Department is taking to increase prison capacity. [900815]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:49 a.m.

We are investing £2.5 billion in an additional 10,000 prison places. This is on top of the 3,500 prison places already being built and in the pipeline.

Dr Caroline Johnson Portrait Dr Johnson - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:49 a.m.

Which types of offenders will my hon. and learned Friend be prioritising for these new prison places, and what will she do to make sure they are given opportunities for reform and that they are places of rehabilitation, not just incarceration?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:49 a.m.

The next two prisons being built, at Wellingborough and Glen Parva, will be category C resettlement prisons that will house low-risk offenders coming to the end of their sentences, and will provide them with modern, safe and secure living conditions will enable them to rehabilitate. My hon. Friend is right that rehabilitation is critical, and the prisons will have in them industry spaces to enable them to learn skills and get jobs on the outside.

Liz Saville Roberts Portrait Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC) - Hansard

I rise as co-chair of the justice unions parliamentary group. Figures released last week revealed that prison officers were resigning at record rates, which prompts the question: how can the Government consider increasing prison capacity without first dealing with the staffing crisis? How does the Minister propose to retain staff currently leaving the Prison Service in their droves, given the toxic combination of poor pay, a dangerous workplace and an inhumane pension age?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 11:54 a.m.

The hon. Member is right to draw attention to the importance of prison officers, because they are critical to the whole system. I am very pleased that we have beaten our recruitment and retention targets with a net increase of over 4,300 officers, but, as the hon. Member says, we need to keep them safe. We are rolling out a number of measures including the use of PAVA—the pepper spray—and 6,000 body-worn cameras, improving and increasing training, and building on the key workers scheme which enables officers to build a relationship with the prisoners under their control and which we know is helping to reduce violence in our prisons.

Mr Laurence Robertson Portrait Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con) - Hansard

6. What steps he is taking to increase the length of sentences for people convicted of retail crime. [900816]

Break in Debate

Shabana Mahmood Portrait Shabana Mahmood (Birmingham, Ladywood) (Lab) - Hansard

9. What estimate he has made of the proportion of people serving imprisonment for public protection sentences that are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. [900819]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:03 p.m.

No one should face any discrimination. I am pleased to have been able to answer this question earlier by stating that we welcomed and have acted upon the Lammy review. The proportion of BAME and IPP prisoners is lower than the proportion of BAME prisoners as a whole: 23% of IPP prisoners are from the BAME backgrounds, compared with 27% of the overall population.

Shabana Mahmood Portrait Shabana Mahmood - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:04 p.m.

Cases that I have been dealing with as a constituency MP concern me because of the potential for the race disparities that we know exist within the justice system, as the Minister has just said, to manifest themselves in cases of IPP prisoners from a BAME background, particularly in relation to access to courses and to the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. What can the Minister do to ensure that the injustices relating to IPP sentences are not further compounded by our systemic problem with race in the criminal justice system?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

The hon. Member is absolutely right to say that IPP prisoners need an opportunity for hope. They need the Prison Service to provide opportunities for reform and to help those prisoners to reform, so that at the end of the process, the Parole Board can consider them appropriately for release. She is right to identify the fact that there used to be a waiting list for certain accredited offender behaviour courses, but that is no longer the case apart from in relation to one. We are doing our best to ensure that all prisoners get the rehabilitation that they need while they are with us in the Prison Service.

Mr Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con) - Hansard

10. How many non-UK citizens are serving custodial sentences; and if he will negotiate compulsory prisoner transfer agreements with other countries. [900820]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:05 p.m.

I understand my hon. Friend’s concern about foreign nationals in our prisons. As he is aware, we have 110 prisoner transfer agreements with countries and territories around the world, and we continue to work closely with other Governments to try to increase that number.

Mr Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Hollobone - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:05 p.m.

Foreign national offenders convicted in this country should serve their terms of imprisonment at the expense of their own Governments in their own countries. We may have 110 prisoner transfer agreements, but only about three are compulsory. Now that we have rediscovered our mojo for tough international renegotiation, can we please have more compulsory prisoner transfer agreements with high-volume crime countries with lots of nationals in our prisons, such as Pakistan, Nigeria and Albania?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of removing foreign offenders to serve sentences in their own countries, and we have removed 51,000 such offenders from our prisons since 2010. He is right to highlight that we have a number of nationalities within our prisons, including a high number of Albanian, Polish and Romanian prisoners. We are considering all these matters in some detail.[Official Report, 17 March 2020, Vol. 673, c. 7MC.]

Mohammad Yasin Portrait Mohammad Yasin (Bedford) (Lab) - Hansard

12. What assessment he has made of trends in the level of violence in prisons. [900822]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:06 p.m.

We have seen a slight decrease in assaults, and this year is the first time that we have seen assaults fall since 2013. However, we of course recognise that there is still more to do in this area.

Mohammad Yasin Portrait Mohammad Yasin - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:07 p.m.

When the Minister visits HMP Bedford tomorrow, can she look the governor in the eye and say that she is doing all she can to ensure the health, safety and welfare of his staff when the last Independent Monitoring Board report on Bedford prison revealed chronic levels of sickness, with nearly a quarter of officers off sick at times?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:07 p.m.

I am looking forward to visiting the prison in the hon. Member’s constituency tomorrow and to speaking to the governor this afternoon. I recognise that the prison has some challenges, but I have heard that it is making real progress. I look forward to discussing the measures being taken in Bedford and talking about how we can support the prison to improve morale and the work of prison officers and to rehabilitate the prisoners.

Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:08 p.m.

This afternoon, trade unions representing the wide variety of staff working in our prisons to keep us safe will meet to finalise the safe prisons charter, which has been drawn up by those facing violence in prisons first hand on a daily basis. Will the Minister adopt the charter and put the safety of staff first—yes or no?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:08 p.m.

I very much look forward to seeing the charter. It is difficult to commit to it until I have seen it, but I am pleased to have met regularly with the unions to discuss general issues relating to their members. When I met prison officers at HMP Whitemoor after they experienced a terrible incident in their prison, I was bowled over to see their determination, resilience and stoicism at first hand and to hear about the amazing work they do every day and the support they give each other. I will look closely at the document the hon. Gentleman mentions.

Sara Britcliffe Portrait Sara Britcliffe (Hyndburn) (Con) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:08 p.m.

Will my hon. and learned Friend outline her Department’s plans to crack down on crime within prisons?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

My hon. Friend makes an important point about crime in our prisons, which takes several forms. A few months ago, we announced expenditure of £100 million on security within our prisons, which will enable us to stop the use of illicit phones, prevent drugs from getting into our prisons, and increase our intelligence and surveillance to stop criminal activity.

Philip Davies Portrait Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:10 p.m.

Is it not about time the Government changed the law so that anybody who is guilty of assaulting a prison officer loses their automatic right to early release, thereby acting as a huge deterrent for this appalling activity and giving prison officers the support they deserve?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:09 p.m.

My hon. Friend has made a number of points on the criminal justice system over a number of years that are all worth thinking about. He is absolutely right about protecting our prison officers. We have, as he will be aware, increased the sentence for assaulting prison staff.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:10 p.m.

No, we did!

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

Parliament brought it in, at the behest of the hon. Member’s Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018—cross-party working in this place is very important—and we continue to look at this important area.

Dan Jarvis Portrait Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central) (Lab) - Hansard

14. What steps his Department is taking to support veterans in the criminal justice system. [900824]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard

The hon. Member raises an important question. We recognise the unique nature of military service, which is why we committed in our manifesto to offering veterans a guaranteed job interview for any public sector role for which they apply. The MOJ continues to work in partnership with military charities to improve the prospects for ex-armed service personnel in the criminal justice system.

Dan Jarvis Portrait Dan Jarvis - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:10 p.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for that response. She will know that a recent Barnardo’s study, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust, shows that veterans in custody and their families often do not receive the support they need. Does she agree that more effective identification of service leavers is needed, along with dedicated veterans support officers?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:11 p.m.

Yes, I do. There is support available through the tremendous amount of work that charities do in this sector, but people cannot access that support if we do not identify them as veterans in the first place. We have changed our systems during the screening process to actively ask those entering custody about previous service in the armed forces. That is recorded on the basic custody screening tool but, of course, the more we record, the more we can do.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con) - Hansard

15. What steps his Department is taking to support victims of (a) rape and (b) sexual abuse through the criminal justice system. [900825]

Break in Debate

Jo Stevens Portrait Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) (Lab) - Hansard

T2. Since the 2007 Corston review into women in the criminal justice system, more than 100 women have died in our prisons. Inquest has recently published an update to its report, “Still Dying on the Inside”, which details both the tragic and often unavoidable circumstances surrounding deaths of women in custody. What concrete action have the Government taken to resolve this crisis? [900837]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard

Every death in custody is a tragedy. Every death in custody is investigated. What we need to do is to improve people’s mental health, stop women and men self-harming in prison and give them the skills and tools to turn around their lives through employment. I recently visited HMP Send, a fantastic women’s prison, and its therapeutic community, which offers a long programme that helps women to come to terms with their offending and to get their lives back on track. Those are the sorts of programmes that do a great deal of work for women and men in prison.

Mr Laurence Robertson Portrait Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con) - Hansard

T7. I was pleased to support the recent changes to the early release for terrorists, but what more can the Department do to protect residents of this country not only from terrorists but from other serious offenders? Once again, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s campaigning in this area. The Government will, quite shortly, bring forward a counter-terrorism release and sentencing Bill, which will make it clear that, for the most serious terrorist offenders, there will be a minimum sentence of 14 years and that such offenders will serve all their sentence in prison. [900842]

Break in Debate

Mr Richard Holden Portrait Mr Richard Holden (North West Durham) (Con) - Hansard

Helen’s law will help to ensure that failure to identify victims or their locations will count against those convicted of murder or child pornography who are seeking parole. Will the Government consider extending this to cover victims of rape, such as those at Medomsley Detention Centre? Some of those victims have taken their own lives and their families are now asking questions.

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

My hon. Friend has consistently raised this important issue since he was elected to this place. I have a huge amount of sympathy for the victims affected by the abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre. He will know that Helen’s law places a statutory duty on the Parole Board to consider the non-disclosure of information in two very discrete circumstances—that is, failure to disclose information about a victim’s remains, or information on the identity of victims in indecent images—which are both within the knowledge of the perpetrator, but no one else. Rape and buggery are outside the scope of the Bill, but my hon. Friend should be comforted that the Parole Board already takes into account non-disclosure of information in any assessment prior to release.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab) - Hansard

T8. Law centres such as the North East Law Centre, which serves my constituents, provide a significant cost saving in public finances by helping people to resolve legal issues before they spiral out of control. Will the Minister commit to securing Treasury funding to provide law centres with a central grant to help ensure their survival? [900843]

Break in Debate

Rob Butler Portrait Rob Butler (Aylesbury) (Con) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:29 p.m.

The prisons inspectorate has this morning published its latest report into Her Majesty’s Young Offender Institution Aylesbury. I very much welcome the progress that has been made, and pay tribute to the governor and her staff for that, but there is still a great deal to do. Will my hon. and learned Friend commit to providing the resources that will be necessary to implement all the recommendations of the report?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

We are very conscious of the state of Aylesbury. We are bringing two wings back online by the beginning of next year and remain committed to making improvements in that prison.

Clive Lewis Portrait Clive Lewis (Norwich South) (Lab) - Hansard

T9. Violence in Norfolk prisons has reached unprecedented levels, with more than two attacks every single day last year. So when will this Government accept that the root cause of this crisis is the thousands of cuts to experienced prison staff that took place on their watch, and when will they commit to stopping the underfunding and overcrowding of prisons across this country? [900844]

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:29 p.m.

The hon. Member makes two important points. He may have heard my answer to the hon. Member for Bedford (Mohammad Yasin), when I said that in fact for the first time, September to September last year, we had a reduction in violence—a slight reduction but a good step in the right direction. As I mentioned to the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts), we have recruited more prison officers—4,300 net since 2016.

Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:34 p.m.

The introduction of a corporate offence of failing to prevent economic crime could well have prevented a succession of banking scandals: PPI, the rigging of LIBOR and forex and the scandalous mistreatment of thousands of small businesses. What plans does the Justice Secretary have to introduce such an offence?

Break in Debate

Preet Kaur Gill Portrait Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:31 p.m.

Women are more likely to be imprisoned for non-violent offences and to receive ineffective short sentences of six months or less, and children whose mothers are sent to prison are more likely than their peers to have future problems. With 17,000 children separated from their mothers each year in England and Wales, what steps is the Minister taking to ensure that the safeguarding and welfare of children is prioritised in criminal courts?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:31 p.m.

The hon. Lady makes a really important point about dependants and the effect of a custodial sentence on the mother of those children. That is why we are ensuring that in pre-sentence reports a checklist is filled out to ensure that the appropriate things are taken into account when a woman is sentenced, one of which will be the effect on her dependants.

Andy Carter Portrait Andy Carter (Warrington South) (Con) - Hansard
25 Feb 2020, 12:32 p.m.

There is a significant shortage of magistrates in courts in England and Wales. To add to this, more than half of all sitting magistrates are over the age of 60 and due to retire in the next decade, which will only add to the problems. Will my hon. Friend look urgently at increasing the retirement age for magistrates so that courts have experienced presiding justices and the capacity to deal with their current and future workload?

Oral Answers to Questions

Lucy Frazer Excerpts
Tuesday 14th January 2020

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Ministry of Justice
Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab) - Hansard

3. What plans his Department has to improve training for people working with perinatal women in custodial settings. [900152]

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lucy Frazer) - Hansard
14 Jan 2020, 11:45 a.m.

I, too, welcome to your place, Mr Speaker.

I know that the hon. Lady is very interested in this very important area and chaired a roundtable that a former Justice Minister attended. It is absolutely right that pregnant women in custody should get the care that they deserve. I hope she will be reassured to know that there is a two-day programme that prison officers can attend to ensure that they get the appropriate training to deal with women in custody who are pregnant. However, we recognise that there are more things that we can do, and before the election was called we had already started a fundamental review of pregnant women in custody and the operation of our mother and baby units.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris - Hansard
14 Jan 2020, 11:46 a.m.

The current review of the operational guidance for the mother and baby units is welcome, but guidance is not enough. Will the Minister agree to meet me and the charity Birth Companions to discuss the recommendations in its new birth charter toolkit and the need for mandatory standards, so that prisons are scrutinised and indeed held to account for perinatal care?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
14 Jan 2020, 11:47 a.m.

I would be happy to meet the hon. Lady, who is very experienced in this issue. Last week I visited HMP Bronzefield where I spoke to people on the mother and baby unit. Birth Companions operates from that prison, but I would be very happy to meet the hon. Lady and take advantage of her expertise.

Felicity Buchan Portrait Felicity Buchan (Kensington) (Con) - Hansard
14 Jan 2020, 11:47 a.m.

The Liberal Democrats would scrap all sentences for women apart from the most serious offences. Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that that creates double standards in the justice system?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard
14 Jan 2020, 11:48 a.m.

We have to recognise that the treatment of women in prison, their sentences and the treatment once they are sentenced might be different from men and if they are victims of crime. In our female offenders strategy, we recognise different treatment; but of course people who commit crimes must be punished for them.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab) - Hansard
14 Jan 2020, 11:48 a.m.

I listened carefully to the Minister when she said that prison officers can access training. Does she agree that it should be mandatory for prison officers who are working with pregnant women to have such training, and can she confirm what proportion of prison officers have already accessed that training?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer - Hansard

At least one prison officer in each establishment has already undertaken the training, so there is specialist support, and more women than that have done it; I would be very happy to provide the figures in due course.

Nickie Aiken (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con) - Hansard

4. What steps his Department is taking to support victims of domestic abuse. [900153]

Break in Debate

Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab) -