Written Question
Offenders: Females
7 Aug 2020, 1:18 p.m.

Questioner: The Lord Bishop of Gloucester

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate the Female Offender Strategy will be fully implemented.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The Female Offender Strategy (2018) set out our vision to see fewer women entering the justice system and reoffending; fewer women in custody, particularly on short custodial sentences, with more managed successfully in the community; and a custodial environment that enables rehabilitation. The strategy launched an ambitious programme of work to improve outcomes for female offenders and make society safer by tackling the underlying causes of offending and reoffending. This will take several years to deliver, with our planned pilot of a residential women’s centre in at least five sites in England and Wales likely to last until the latter part of this decade.

Some two years on from publication of the Strategy we are making good progress. We have already invested £5.1 million Strategy funding in 30 different women’s services across England and Wales, helping to sustain and enhance existing services, fill gaps in provision, and provide properties for new women’s centres. Other achievements include publication of a new Women’s Policy Framework; roll-out of new training for staff working with women in custody and the community; improvements to the preparation of pre-sentence reports; publication and ongoing implementation of the recommendations in Lord Farmer’s review into family ties for female offenders; undertaken a review of police forces’ responses to our guidance on working with vulnerable women; piloting a new offender management model for women under supervision in the community; commissioning research to inform our policy on BAME female offenders; and publication of our review of the operational policy on Pregnancy, Mother and Baby Units, and Mothers separated from children under the age of 2 in prison.

On 5 May 2020, we announced the investment of a further £2.5m in women’s community services in England and Wales in 2020/21, supporting them to tackle the root causes of offending and help women to turn their lives around. We also announced that the first site of our residential women’s centre pilot will be located in Wales. This will provide accommodation for vulnerable women with complex needs who would otherwise be sentenced to custody, enabling them to stay closer to home and maintain important family ties, and will directly tackle the issues which often underlie offending, like substance misuse and mental health. We will now work with Welsh Government and partners in Wales to identify a provider and site.


Written Question
Prisons: Coronavirus
6 Aug 2020, 3:41 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Browne of Belmont

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) how many prison staff have been tested for COVID-19; and (2) how many prisoners in all prisons have been tested for COVID-19.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

A testing programme is being conducted to help understand the spread of Coronavirus in prisons and how it is transmitted within individual establishments and across the wider estate began on Monday 20 July.


The testing study is taking place across 28 prisons in England and is being carried out in collaboration with the University of Southampton, Public Health England, Department of Health and Social Care and National Audit Office.


Every one of the 20,000 prisoners and 10,000 staff at the 28 sites will be invited to carry out an antigen test, consisting of mouth and nose swabs, to see if they currently have the virus. Participation is completely voluntary but we encourage as many as possible to carry out the test. The test will be repeated two more times with a gap of three weeks between each test.


This testing study follows a pilot of voluntary testing of both staff and prisoners at HMP Littlehey. This consisted of over 1,000 tests being undertaken and pleasingly no positive results were found.


This testing study runs for 9 to 12 weeks to allow all three testing rounds to be completed.


Currently, the establishments which have started undertaking this COVID-19 prevalence Testing Programme are: Bure, Coldingley, Drake Hall, Frankland, Gartree, High Down, Leeds, Lewes, New Hall, Norwich, Send, The Mount, Wandsworth and Wealstun.


As of 5pm 30th July 2020, there have been 2542 prisoner tests with four positive results. There have been 1571 staff tests with three positive results.

With HMPPS staff being able to self-refer for testing the complete number of staff who have been tested for COVID-19 is unknown by HMPPS. While the total number of tests carried out on prisoners since testing began is also unknown, the Ministry of Justice has started publishing a weekly release of Covid-19 related statistics, which includes confirmed COVID-19 cases in prisoners and children in custody. These statistics provide total numbers across England and Wales.

The statistics release can be found here each Friday:
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hm-prison-and-probation-service-covid-19-statistics


Written Question
Prisons: Crimes of Violence
6 Aug 2020, 3:16 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Browne of Belmont

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many adjudications related to incidences of violence against prison staff there were in each year since 2014; and how many of those incidences resulted in additional days being added to a prisoner's sentence.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The prisoner discipline system upholds justice in prisons and ensures incidents of prison rule-breaking have consequences. Only Independent Adjudicators, who are District Judges or Deputy District Judges, can make an award of additional days to a prisoner’s custodial time left to serve.

Where an act of violence amounts to a criminal offence, prisoners should be investigated by the police and face serious sanctions. The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 has increased sentencing powers for offences of common assault and battery committed against an emergency worker. This provides Courts with the powers to punish those who commit violent crime against prison staff.

The information requested can be found in the table attached.


Written Question
Veterans: Prison Sentences
6 Aug 2020, 3:13 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Browne of Belmont

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many armed forces veterans are currently serving a custodial sentence.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

Since January 2015, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service has actively been recording service in the Armed Forces as part of the screening process for newly received prisoners into custody.

A breakdown of experimental statistics published in October 2019 indicates that as of 30 June 2019, there were 1,833 prisoners serving a custodial sentence in England and Wales that have declared they have been a member of the armed services.

The department is due to release the next estimate of the total number of ex-armed services in October 2020 which will include data as of 30 June 2020.

The Ministry of Justice remains committed to encouraging people in the criminal justice system to declare service in the Armed Forces, as early as possible or at any point whist serving their sentence. This enables them to access the support available, whether that is in custody or the community.


Written Question
Courts: Video Conferencing
5 Aug 2020, 4:05 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Wasserman

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether (1) Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service and (2) the judiciary, have evaluated the Video Remand Hearings, Summary and Crown Court trials and Prison to Court Video Links developed by the Video Enabled Justice Programme led by the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner and currently operating in Kent, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey and Sussex; and, if so, whether they have concluded that it is suitable to be rolled out nationally.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The Video Enabled Justice Programme was a Home Office funded initiative and independent of HMCTS and the Judiciary. The Programme was sponsored by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex. Its focus was on video enabled remand hearings and live links for police witnesses. Researchers from the University of Surrey were commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner to undertake an evaluation of the Programme.

The evaluation looked at the new video and digital equipment installed at Medway Magistrates Court and seven custody suites across Kent together with the impact of the digital equipment and the conduct of participants in video enabled and non-video remand hearings.

The findings were shared with interested parties in the final report published in May 2020. No conclusions were intended to be drawn as to the suitability of scaling the Programme outside of the pilot areas.


Written Question
Wandsworth Prison: Video Conferencing
5 Aug 2020, 3:32 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Wasserman

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the pilot at HMP Wandsworth of the video link booking system developed by the Ministry of Justice to allow both prison and court users to book slots with the Video Conference Centre to minimise the need to interact via telephone or emails has been completed; what lessons have been learned from that pilot to date; and what plans they have to publish any such lessons.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The pilot for the book a video link service (BVLS) went live at HMP Wandsworth and all associated courts on 31 March 2020. It has now completed, and we are gathering data and feedback from users in both prisons and courts. This will be shared with partners and stakeholders in due course. Early indications suggest the BVLS has been positively received. Once the feedback exercise has been completed in the autumn, we will consider rolling out the BVLS at further sites.


Written Question
Prisons: Coronavirus
4 Aug 2020, 3:50 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Bradley

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their announcement on 24 March that 900 secure phone handsets were to be provided to prisons to support family contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, how many minutes prisoners have spent on calls to date (1) in total, and (2) in each prison in which such phones have been allocated.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

In recognition of the importance of maintaining family ties, since 24 March the Government has rolled out 1297 secure mobile phones across the prison estate in England and Wales. This is in addition to existing wing phones and in-cell telephones. As of the 21 July 2020, 153,918 minutes of calls have taken place from secure mobile PIN phones since 2nd April when this service was deployed.

We do not routinely record the number of calls that take place over long periods of time, however our most recent data shows that on 21 July, 2803 calls took place across all mobile phones. This equates to 14,783 minutes across the estate. For comparison, 222,889 minutes of calls took place across the non-mobile based PIN network. There has been a 52% increase in calls across pin phone calls from the average call number in February, we do not currently have the equivalent data for just mobile phones.

We do not record figures for minutes that prisoners have spent on calls by prison across the time period mentioned.. We have access to daily call figures across the entire secure mobile network and also individual prison figures on a given day. We are working with our supplier to identify whether we can report on cumulative figures for individual prisons.


Written Question
Solicitors: Video Conferencing
4 Aug 2020, 3:49 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Wasserman

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average delay in terms of weeks before solicitors are able to consult their clients in prison via video link.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Written Question
Prisoners' Release: Older People
4 Aug 2020, 3:49 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Hylton

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government by how much the prison population of England and Wales would decrease if prisoners (1) over 65 years old, (2) over 70 years old, and (3) over 75 years old, were released.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

Based on prison population data as at 30 June 2020, the prison population of England and Wales includes (1) 2,660 prisoners over 65 years old, (2) of whom 1,497 prisoners are over 70 years, and (3) 671 prisoners are over 75 years old.


Written Question
Courts: Coronavirus
4 Aug 2020, 3:46 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Wasserman

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the present backlog of cases awaiting trial in (1) the Crown Court, and (2) the Magistrates' Court.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The table below provides the information requested on the current number of outstanding cases awaiting trial in (1) the Crown Court, and (2) the Magistrates’ Courts.

These data are taken from the national statistics on the level of outstanding work in the criminal courts for the first quarter of 2020 which were published on 26 June 2020 and are available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/criminal-court-statistics. The data for the second quarter will be published in September 2020.

Outstanding cases awaiting trial in the Magistrates’ and Crown Court as at 31 March 2020

Magistrates’ Court12

77,459

Crown Court2

31,686

Notes:

1The magistrates’ court figure represents all those cases outstanding that are categorised as for trial (Indictable-only and Triable-either-way) and not just those awaiting a trial hearing. For example, it will include cases where defendants plead guilty and not guilty, and those where a warrant has been issued

2 Though the figures for both Magistrates’ and Crown Court includes for trial cases (Triable-either-way and Indictable Only) which are outstanding for trial we are unable to say at what stage of the court process these are, for example, this may include cases where a trial has started but has not concluded.


Written Question
Prison and Probation Service: Finance
4 Aug 2020, 11:33 a.m.

Questioner: Lord Bradley

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the budget allocated to the HM Prisons and Probation Service Payment Plus scheme has been spent so far in the current financial year.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

Payment Plus is funded through Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service’s staff pay budget from savings arising from any staff vacancies, which are then re-invested by each prison to fund the Payment Plus (PP) needed to cover operational staff vacancies.

Prison governors have always had the authority to use PP to allow for additional staff time to cover vacancies. They are given an annual budget for staff costs based on agreed staffing levels and are expected to manage PP within this.

In the first quarter of this financial year, the total spend on PP was £20.4m, which includes additional overtime cover in response to the impact of COVID-19.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a high risk of increased staff absence and to mitigate this, staff were asked to volunteer for additional PP hours in advance of need. Since the start of the scheme in mid-March, to end June, about 60% of the total extra PP hours volunteers had committed to work were used and the remainder are being used as prisons move into recovery.


Written Question
Prison and Probation Service: Finance
4 Aug 2020, 11:33 a.m.

Questioner: Lord Bradley

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the total budget allocated to the HM Prisons and Probation Service Payment Plus scheme for the current financial year.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

Payment Plus is funded through Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service’s staff pay budget from savings arising from any staff vacancies, which are then re-invested by each prison to fund the Payment Plus (PP) needed to cover operational staff vacancies.

Prison governors have always had the authority to use PP to allow for additional staff time to cover vacancies. They are given an annual budget for staff costs based on agreed staffing levels and are expected to manage PP within this.

In the first quarter of this financial year, the total spend on PP was £20.4m, which includes additional overtime cover in response to the impact of COVID-19.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a high risk of increased staff absence and to mitigate this, staff were asked to volunteer for additional PP hours in advance of need. Since the start of the scheme in mid-March, to end June, about 60% of the total extra PP hours volunteers had committed to work were used and the remainder are being used as prisons move into recovery.


Written Question
Terrorism: Prison Sentences
4 Aug 2020, 10:33 a.m.

Questioner: Lord Hylton

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of additional prison sentences likely to be imposed if the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill is passed in its present form; and how many longer sentences are likely to be imposed as a result.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

We conducted and published an impact analysis for the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, which is based on historical volumes of convictions and assumes that trends in sentencing remain stable. The Bill will not increase the overall number of sentences, but will increase sentence lengths for terrorist offenders. We assess that this will result in increased sentence lengths resulting in a maximum of 50 additional offenders in prison at any given time.


Written Question
Criminal Proceedings: Ethnic Groups
4 Aug 2020, 10:32 a.m.

Questioner: Baroness Whitaker

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the reply by Lord Keen of Elie on 15 July (HL Deb, cols 1659–61), how the situation of Black and other minority ethnic defendants, including those from Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities, will be taken into account in (1) the membership, and (2) the terms of reference, of the Royal Commission on criminal justice.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The Government is committed to a justice system that is fair, open and accessible to all.

In defining the terms of reference and membership of the Royal Commission, we are taking into account the need for the Commission to understand effectively the experiences of all those that engage with the criminal justice system. This will of course need to include taking account issues of race and the experiences of Black and other minority ethnic people, including those from Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities.

Further details will be announced in due course.


Written Question
Marriage
4 Aug 2020, 10:31 a.m.

Questioner: Baroness Whitaker

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government in which circumstances marriages in England and Wales are legally recognised by virtue of (1) the building in which the marriage takes place, (2) the registrar or officiant conducting the ceremony, and (3) the religion of the marriage.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

In general terms, the law requires couples to give due notice of the marriage and to marry in the place specified when they gave notice and in the presence of certain people. Marriages are not automatically valid because they involve a certain building, person or religion: on the contrary, they are capable of legal recognition because they follow a route set out in statute. The statute law also sets out circumstances in which a marriage will be void.

As part of its review of the law on how and where couples may marry in England and Wales, the Law Commission will make recommendations regarding what the consequences of failing to comply with all or some of the requirements for a valid marriage should be. The Government looks forward to publication of its consultation paper in September.


Written Question
Marriage: Humanism
4 Aug 2020, 10:30 a.m.

Questioner: Baroness Blackstone

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what reforms to marriage law they are currently working on; whether they plan to bring forward proposals for legal recognition of humanist marriages; and if not, why not.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The Government announced in June 2019 that the Law Commission will conduct a fundamental review of the law on how and where people can legally marry in England and Wales. As part of that review, the Government invited the Law Commission to make recommendations about how marriage by humanist and other non-religious belief organisations could be incorporated into a revised or new scheme for all marriages that is simple, fair and consistent. The Government looks forward to publication of the Law Commission’s consultation paper in September and, following the final report, will decide on provision on the basis of the Law Commission's recommendations.

Separately, the Government continues to explore both limited reform and non-legislative options relating to religious weddings, as well as to explore interim reform of the law governing approved premises for marriages and civil partnerships.


Written Question
Prison and Probation Service: Coronavirus
29 Jul 2020, 9:39 a.m.

Questioner: Lord Bradley

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the outcome of their review of the HM Prisons and Probation Service COVID-19 Special Payment Scheme.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The internal review of the HMPPS Covid-19 Special Payment Scheme is ongoing. When concluded, any changes will be implemented and communicated to staff in the usual way.

HM Treasury have approved the scheme and we anticipate a budget allocation to be agreed in Autumn 2020 which will cover payments made to date.


Written Question
Prison and Probation Service: Coronavirus
29 Jul 2020, 9:39 a.m.

Questioner: Lord Bradley

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the HM Prisons and Probation Service COVID-19 Special Payment Scheme budget has been spent to date by (1) prisons, and (2) probation services.

Answer (Lord Keen of Elie)

The internal review of the HMPPS Covid-19 Special Payment Scheme is ongoing. When concluded, any changes will be implemented and communicated to staff in the usual way.

HM Treasury have approved the scheme and we anticipate a budget allocation to be agreed in Autumn 2020 which will cover payments made to date.


Written Question
Debt Collection: Contracts
28 Jul 2020, 4:13 p.m.

Questioner: Liz Saville Roberts

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his Department’s news story of 5 November 2019, Approved Enforcement Agency Services Contract Awarded, whether he has consulted with respective police forces on any potential extension of warrant activities placed on them as a result of those awards.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

HMCTS has issued regular updates to the National Police Chiefs Council about the project to award the Approved Enforcement Agency Services Contract. The new services should not result in any extension of warrant activities undertaken by the police so it is not expected that these contracts will have a significant impact on police forces.


Written Question
Debt Collection: Contracts
28 Jul 2020, 4:12 p.m.

Questioner: Liz Saville Roberts

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his Department’s news story of 5 November 2019, Approved Enforcement Agency Services Contract Awarded, whether he will meet with representatives of departmental trade unions to discuss the potential implications of the transfer of staff in relation to those contracts so awarded.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

HMCTS has met with, engaged and consulted the departmental trade unions regularly throughout the life of the project to award the Approved Enforcement Agency Services Contract. Officials from HMCTS are happy to meet again to discuss the transfer of staff and will be in touch to arrange.


Written Question
Debt Collection: Contracts
28 Jul 2020, 4:06 p.m.

Questioner: Liz Saville Roberts

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his Department’s news story of 5 November 2019, Approved Enforcement Agency Services Contract Awarded, whether the new contractors of those contracts so awarded will be required to recognise trade unions; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

The new providers of the Approved Enforcement Agency Services contract are currently engaging with the existing trade unions as part of the preparations for starting the new services. It will be for them to decide on how they consult with staff and staff representative after the new services have commenced.


Written Question
Debt Collection: Contracts
28 Jul 2020, 4:05 p.m.

Questioner: Liz Saville Roberts

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his Department’s news story of 5 November 2019, Approved Enforcement Agency Services Contract Awarded, what steps he has taken to ensure that his Department’s obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty will continue to be met post-transfer as a result of those contracts so awarded.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

The obligation to act in accordance with the Equality Act 2010, including the Public Sector Equality Duty, is a requirement of the new Approved Enforcement Agency Services contracts.


Written Question
Debt Collection: Contracts
28 Jul 2020, 4:04 p.m.

Questioner: Liz Saville Roberts

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his Department’s news story of 5 November 2019, Approved Enforcement Agency Services Contract Awarded, what steps he has taken to ensure that affected staff with protected characteristics will not suffer detriment post-transfer as a result of those contracts so awarded.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

HMCTS is committed to ensuring that staff with protected characteristics do not suffer detriment as a result of these changes. Staff are currently taking part in 1:1 meetings with the new providers, one of the purposes of which is to discuss any protected characteristics and reasonable adjustments so they can determine how each individual can be supported and accommodated post-transfer.


Written Question
Debt Collection: Contracts
28 Jul 2020, 4:01 p.m.

Questioner: Liz Saville Roberts

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his Department’s news story of 5 November 2019, Approved Enforcement Agency Services Contract Awarded, whether any changes to contracts of employment as a result of those contracts so awarded have been (a) consulted on with and (b) agreed by (i) affected staff and (ii) departmental trade unions.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

The Departmental Trade Union are appointed representatives and have been, and continue to be, involved in the consultation regarding the transfer of individuals that will result from the letting of the new Approved Enforcement Agency Services Contracts.

There will be some technical changes to contracts of employment, but the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 affords protections to key terms and conditions such as salary, pensions and annual leave.

Consultation is undertaken with a view to reaching agreement, and both the unions and staff views are considered but they will not always be acted if there are good practical or financial reasons for not doing so.


Written Question
Probation: Finance
28 Jul 2020, 2:24 p.m.

Questioner: Chi Onwurah

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the oral answer of the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, of 14 July 2020, Official Report, column 1367, how much of the £100 million announced for the future probation system will be spent on (a) rehabilitative, (b) resettlement, (c) education and (d) employment services.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

As part of plans for the future probation system set out by the Lord Chancellor on 11 June 2020, it was confirmed that HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) will operate a Probation Services Dynamic Framework to commission rehabilitation and resettlement services in England and Wales. These services will sit alongside other provision by HMPPS, such as prison-led resettlement support, as well as provision by other government departments.

Our initial estimate, as referenced by the Minister of State in her oral answer on 14 July 2020, was that the total value of contracts to be commissioned through the Probation Services Dynamic Framework would exceed £100m per year once the system reached a steady state.

The following table sets out the indicative proportion of overall Dynamic Framework contract value for each service to be procured, using estimates for Financial Year 2024/25 as representative of steady state spend:

Sum of Lot 1: Accommodation services

Sum of Lot 2.1 Finance, Benefits and Debt services

Sum of Lot 2.2 Education, Training and Employment services

Sum of Lot 3: Dependency and Recovery services

Sum of Lot 4: Family, Lifestyle and Wellbeing services

Sum of Lot 5: Women services

Total

% of indicative Dynamic Framework contract value

9%

9%

11%

15%

43%

13%

100%

Lot 4 includes a separately-commissioned contract for support to Young Adults in Wales only.

This is drawn from data made available to prospective bidders in July 2020. All values provided are indicative only and subject to change. They should not be viewed as confirmation of contract values, Call-Off term or actual volumes. It should be noted that for some lots, they may be co-commissioned with other partners, and some of these co-commissioned services may be procured through an alternative procurement route than the Probation Services Dynamic Framework. This particularly applies to the Finance, Benefit & Debt and Dependency & Recovery lots. It is not possible to provide either:

a) the proportion of contract value expected to derive from resettlement activity to support individuals leaving prison, as distinct from support for individuals serving a community sentence; or

b) the proportion of contract value expected to derive from education support as distinct from employment support.

This is because these values will depend on the outcome of the procurement process, the nature of the services delivered and future volumes of activity.