Written Question
Youth Custody: Restraint Techniques
6 Jul 2020, 4:19 p.m.

Questioner: Liz Saville Roberts

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Written Statement of 18 June 2020, Youth Custody, HCWS302, when he plans to place in the Library the two reports on the use of restraint and separation in the secure youth justice estate.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Copies of these reports have now been deposited in the Library. They can also be viewed via the following links on GOV.UK:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-the-use-of-pain-inducing-techniques-in-the-youth-secure-estate

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/separation-of-children-in-young-offender-institutions--2


Written Question
Prisons: Coronavirus
6 Jul 2020, 4:14 p.m.

Questioner: Liz Saville Roberts

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 2 June 2020 to Question 49084 on Prisons: Coronavirus, how many (a) cases of covid-19 and (b) covid-19 related deaths there have been in each prison in England and Wales as of 6 July 2020; and if he will publish that data on a weekly basis.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

The Government has put robust measures in place to protect staff and offenders from Covid-19 and introduce ‘compartmentalisation’, to isolate those prisoners with symptoms, shield the vulnerable and quarantine new arrivals.

Overall, prisons are seeing a decline in the numbers of new cases. The data in the table below shows the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases broken down by prison as of Friday 19 June 2020. These figures reflect the total number of recorded positive cases of Covid-19 since the first confirmed cases in mid-March, not the number of live cases. It includes individuals that have recovered.

The numbers reported will be affected by a number of variables, including the availability of testing locally which can result in differences between sites and regions and as self-reported (for staff) through HMPPS management lines for central collation.

Prison

Staff cases

Prisoner cases

Altcourse

24

14

Askham Grange

4

0

Aylesbury

4

0

Bedford

6

~

Belmarsh

12

7

Berwyn

33

41

Birmingham

22

~

Brinsford

22

5

Bristol

~

0

Brixton

0

~

Bronzefield

6

~

Buckley Hall

~

~

Bullingdon

~

0

Bure

~

0

Cardiff

24

22

Channings Wood

14

9

Chelmsford

10

~

Coldingley

5

~

Dartmoor

~

~

Deerbolt

8

~

Doncaster

12

9

Dovegate

9

~

Downview

4

0

Drake Hall

25

41

Durham

49

4

Eastwood Park

~

0

Elmley

6

~

Erlestoke

~

~

Featherstone

~

~

Ford

~

~

Forest Bank

5

5

Foston Hall

~

~

Frankland

12

~

Full Sutton

4

0

Garth

7

0

Gartree

25

10

Grendon/Spring Hill

0

~

Hatfield

~

~

Haverigg

~

6

Hewell

42

9

High Down

14

~

Highpoint

12

~

Hindley

10

~

Hollesley Bay

~

~

Holme House

23

16

Hull

~

0

Humber

41

10

Huntercombe

~

~

Isis

4

6

Isle of Wight

~

0

Kirkham

5

~

Kirklevington Grange

~

0

Leeds

4

~

Leicester

6

5

Lewes

~

0

Lincoln

~

4

Lindholme

10

0

Littlehey

9

6

Liverpool

20

~

Long Lartin

~

~

Low Newton

0

~

Lowdham Grange

~

0

Maidstone

~

~

Manchester

19

20

Moorland

~

~

Morton Hall (IRC)

~

0

Mount

9

5

New Hall

~

5

North Sea Camp

~

0

Northumberland

14

~

Norwich

6

0

Nottingham

~

0

Oakwood

25

20

Onley

17

7

Parc

6

7

Pentonville

15

4

Peterborough (male)

16

~

Preston

43

18

Ranby

8

5

Risley

20

16

Rye Hill

6

~

Send

~

0

Stafford

5

0

Standford Hill

0

~

Stocken

13

~

Stoke Heath

~

4

Styal

~

0

Sudbury

~

~

Swaleside

~

0

Swansea

10

12

Swinfen Hall

5

6

Thameside

~

10

Thorn Cross

~

0

Usk/Prescoed

17

19

Verne

~

0

Wakefield

~

4

Wandsworth

~

11

Wealstun

~

0

Whatton

0

~

Whitemoor

10

6

Winchester

23

4

Woodhill

23

0

Wormwood Scrubs

14

6

Wymott

14

15

TOTAL

972

499

Notes

- Only prison establishments are included in this table and not Young Offenders Institutions, Secure Training Centres or Secure Children’s Homes.

- The symbol ~ denotes suppressed values of 3 or fewer to avoid the risk of identifying individuals.

The table below shows the number of prisoners who have sadly died and Covid-19 is suspected to be the cause. This data is correct as of Friday 19 June and is broken down by prison.

Prison

Number of prisoner deaths

Altcourse

2

Bedford

1

Belmarsh

1

Berwyn

1

Channings Wood

2

Durham

1

Gartree

1

Leicester

1

Littlehey

3

Low Newton

1

Manchester

1

New Hall

1

Oakwood

1

Peterborough

1

Rye Hill

1

Sudbury

1

Usk

1

Whatton

1

Winchester

1

Total

23

Notes

- Data for prisoner deaths represents individuals where Covid-19 is suspected to be the cause.

The table below shows the number of prison staff who have sadly died having tested positive for Covid-19. This data is correct as of Friday 19 June and is broken down by prison.

Prison

Number of prison staff deaths

Hollesley Bay

1

Dovegate

1

Manchester

1

Pentonville

2

Thameside

1

Usk

1

Wymott

2

Total

9

Notes

- Data for staff deaths represents individuals that have been confirmed as having Covid-19, though it is not necessarily the cause of death.

The Ministry of Justice has started publishing a weekly release of Covid-19 related statistics. This includes confirmed Covid-19 cases in prisoners and children in custody; and deaths among prisoners and children in custody where Covid-19 is suspected to be the cause. These statistics provide total numbers across England and Wales, we do not plan to publish these statistics at an establishment level.

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: Parole Board
6 Jul 2020, 4:11 p.m.

Questioner: Ms Lyn Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to HMPPS's Action Plan in response to the Independent Review of the Case of Joseph McCann, published on 30 June 2020, for what reason no response has been given to the recommendation of that Review on ensuring that prisons comply with the requirement to share all relevant information, including from prison security departments and records of prison behaviour, with the Parole Board.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Our usual processes are to work to the Draft HMI Probation Report when drawing together the HMPPS Action Plan. HMI Probation did not indicate that they were amending the report recommendations prior to publication. We will now address the additional recommendation in the Inspection Report and publish an amended Action Plan at the earliest opportunity.


Written Question
Approved Premises
6 Jul 2020, 4:08 p.m.

Questioner: Ms Lyn Brown

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to recommendation 3 of the HM Prison & Probation Service's Action Plan of 30 June 2020, published in response to the Independent Review of the Case of Joseph McCann, for what reason the HM Prison & Probation Service has only Partly Agreed to ensure that there is sufficient capacity in the approved premises estate to accommodate all high risk of harm offenders who require a placement.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

The crimes committed by Joseph McCann were appalling and our thoughts and sympathies are with the victims and their families. We recognise that there were failings and we apologise unreservedly for our part in this. We are committed to doing everything we possibly can to learn from this terrible case.

The Action Plan in response to the Independent Review of the case of Joseph McCann, Action 3 is partly agreed on the basis that as full funding for the Expansion Programme has yet to be secured.

However, the Approved Premises Expansion Programme (APEX) is well underway, seeking to create a minimum of 200 additional bed spaces in Approved Premises (AP) nationally, to meet demand for AP residency and in support of the ministerial commitment. An additional 40 bed spaces were secured in 2019/20 and it is anticipated that at least a further 40 places will be secured in 2020/21.


Written Question
Prisons: Risk Assessment
6 Jul 2020, 4:04 p.m.

Questioner: Richard Burgon

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what information on prison risk assessments his Department has shared with education providers.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

We continue to work collaboratively with all key prison education stakeholders, especially throughout the current pandemic period. The Exceptional Delivery Model for Education and Libraries is currently being developed in close consultation with all Prison Education Framework (PEF) providers to assist prisons in reinstating elements of their regimes in a safe and controlled way. This means that everyone working in prisons will have a very clear understanding of any risks and the appropriate mitigating measures.


Written Question
Prisons: Coronavirus
6 Jul 2020, 3:59 p.m.

Questioner: Richard Burgon

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a prison whistleblowing hotline to enable staff to confidentially report health and safety concerns (a) during and (b) after the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will introduce such a hotline.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Staff are aware that they can report H&S concerns to their line managers, or a H&S qualified practitioner present at each establishment. The Ministry of Justice has whistle blowing procedures in place for employees who wish to raise any concerns, including the endangering of an individual’s health and safety. The current H&S reporting system also provides a reliable local and national reporting and recording tool that allows staff to voice their concerns and for H&S teams to monitor and take action where necessary. We therefore do not have any current plans to initiate a specific whistleblowing hotline or campaign.

All staff receive a full H&S induction upon commencement of their roles, which includes an introduction and explanation of the reporting and investigation process and local or notifications and contingencies are published by Governors advising staff of risks and to implement controls as necessary.

HMPPS operates both national and local health and safety committees across probation and custody in line with the legal requirements for consultation on health and safety matters and maintains active engagement with health and safety representatives. Such committees are held at least quarterly and attendance by staff and union representatives is actively encouraged. This is in addition to an extensive range of informal consultation and liaison both nationally and locally.


Written Question
Prisons: Coronavirus
6 Jul 2020, 3:59 p.m.

Questioner: Richard Burgon

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of a campaign to raise awareness among prison staff of their health and safety legal rights (a) during and (b) after the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Staff are aware that they can report H&S concerns to their line managers, or a H&S qualified practitioner present at each establishment. The Ministry of Justice has whistle blowing procedures in place for employees who wish to raise any concerns, including the endangering of an individual’s health and safety. The current H&S reporting system also provides a reliable local and national reporting and recording tool that allows staff to voice their concerns and for H&S teams to monitor and take action where necessary. We therefore do not have any current plans to initiate a specific whistleblowing hotline or campaign.

All staff receive a full H&S induction upon commencement of their roles, which includes an introduction and explanation of the reporting and investigation process and local or notifications and contingencies are published by Governors advising staff of risks and to implement controls as necessary.

HMPPS operates both national and local health and safety committees across probation and custody in line with the legal requirements for consultation on health and safety matters and maintains active engagement with health and safety representatives. Such committees are held at least quarterly and attendance by staff and union representatives is actively encouraged. This is in addition to an extensive range of informal consultation and liaison both nationally and locally.


Written Question
Prisons: Coronavirus
6 Jul 2020, 3:59 p.m.

Questioner: Richard Burgon

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of a whistleblowing hotline to enable prison staff to confidentially report health and safety concerns (a) during and (b) after the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Staff are aware that they can report H&S concerns to their line managers, or a H&S qualified practitioner present at each establishment. The Ministry of Justice has whistle blowing procedures in place for employees who wish to raise any concerns, including the endangering of an individual’s health and safety. The current H&S reporting system also provides a reliable local and national reporting and recording tool that allows staff to voice their concerns and for H&S teams to monitor and take action where necessary. We therefore do not have any current plans to initiate a specific whistleblowing hotline or campaign.

All staff receive a full H&S induction upon commencement of their roles, which includes an introduction and explanation of the reporting and investigation process and local or notifications and contingencies are published by Governors advising staff of risks and to implement controls as necessary.

HMPPS operates both national and local health and safety committees across probation and custody in line with the legal requirements for consultation on health and safety matters and maintains active engagement with health and safety representatives. Such committees are held at least quarterly and attendance by staff and union representatives is actively encouraged. This is in addition to an extensive range of informal consultation and liaison both nationally and locally.


Written Question
Prisons: Coronavirus
6 Jul 2020, 3:59 p.m.

Questioner: Richard Burgon

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of launching a campaign to raise awareness among prison staff of their health and safety legal rights (a) during and (b) after the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will launch such a campaign.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Staff are aware that they can report H&S concerns to their line managers, or a H&S qualified practitioner present at each establishment. The Ministry of Justice has whistle blowing procedures in place for employees who wish to raise any concerns, including the endangering of an individual’s health and safety. The current H&S reporting system also provides a reliable local and national reporting and recording tool that allows staff to voice their concerns and for H&S teams to monitor and take action where necessary. We therefore do not have any current plans to initiate a specific whistleblowing hotline or campaign.

All staff receive a full H&S induction upon commencement of their roles, which includes an introduction and explanation of the reporting and investigation process and local or notifications and contingencies are published by Governors advising staff of risks and to implement controls as necessary.

HMPPS operates both national and local health and safety committees across probation and custody in line with the legal requirements for consultation on health and safety matters and maintains active engagement with health and safety representatives. Such committees are held at least quarterly and attendance by staff and union representatives is actively encouraged. This is in addition to an extensive range of informal consultation and liaison both nationally and locally.


Written Question
Employment Tribunals Service: Ethnic Groups
6 Jul 2020, 3:57 p.m.

Questioner: Imran Hussain

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people in each category of ethnicity have brought employment tribunal claims in each year since 2010.

Answer (Chris Philp)

A diversity monitoring form is attached to the employment tribunal claim form ET1 but the completion of this form is optional. The completion rate is far below the usual 60% threshold used for diversity reporting. Representation rates based on return rates below 60% are not considered statistically valid because they are unlikely to provide a representative picture of all claimants.


Written Question
Employment Tribunals Service: Fees and Charges
6 Jul 2020, 3:49 p.m.

Questioner: Imran Hussain

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what discussions his Department has had with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the reintroduction of employment tribunal fees.

Answer (Chris Philp)

The Ministry of Justice has frequent discussions with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on many aspects of Employment Tribunals. There have been no decisions regarding the re-introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal. The Government is committed to the effective enforcement of employment rights. Should we bring forward any formal proposals relating to the re-introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal, they would be subject to a full public consultation.


Written Question
Prisoners' Release: Curfews
6 Jul 2020, 3:23 p.m.

Questioner: Philip Davies

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 16 June to Question 54053 on Home Detention Curfew Breaches; how many of the offenders who were recalled for breaching their curfew were returned to prison for the remainder of their original sentence.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Offenders who are recalled to custody solely for a breach of the curfew conditions of their HDC licence must serve the remainder of their custodial term before being released after they have reached their automatic release date at the half-way point of the sentence.

Offenders who are on HDC and recalled to custody for breach of the other conditions attached to their licence by, for example, failing to comply with probation supervision or commiting an offence, may be dealt with by a “standard” or fixed-term recall, depending on the circumstances. In cases where the Secretary of State is not satisfied that the offender may be safely released at the end of the fixed term period, they will be given a standard recall and will be required to remain in custody until the end of the sentence, unless released earlier by the Parole Board or Secretary of State. Offenders on HDC who are given a fixed-term recall of 14 days (for sentences under 12 months) or 28 days will be released after the fixed-term has been served, or at the automatic release date, whichever is later.

It is not possible readily to show the number of offenders on HDC throughout each month and, therefore, the proportion of those who were reported for a potential breach. The table below gives the number of people on HDC at the end of each month of 2019 plus the total number of reports of potential breach of the curfew related conditions of HDC licences received from the electronic monitoring provider each month.

HDC Caseload and Reports of potential breach of curfew 2019 by month

Month

HDC caseload

Reports

January

2,835

605

February

2,877

384

March

2,950

384

April

2,928

432

May

2,956

452

June

2,953

503

July

2,884

510

August

2,890

470

September

2,807

449

October

2,740

505

November

2,827

407

December

2,747

397

Total

N/A

5498

1.The figures in this table have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

2. This table includes the number of prisoners on HDC at a fixed point each month and not the total number of offenders who have been on HDC at some point during the month.

3. This table includes the total number of reports received each month and not the total number of offenders reported for potential breach each month. Some will be reported for potential breach on more than one occasion across months.


Written Question
Prisoners' Release: Curfews
6 Jul 2020, 3:23 p.m.

Questioner: Philip Davies

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 16 June 2020 to Question 54053, how many offenders were on home detention curfew in each month of 2019; and how many and what proportion of people were reported for breaching their curfew in each month of that time period.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Offenders who are recalled to custody solely for a breach of the curfew conditions of their HDC licence must serve the remainder of their custodial term before being released after they have reached their automatic release date at the half-way point of the sentence.

Offenders who are on HDC and recalled to custody for breach of the other conditions attached to their licence by, for example, failing to comply with probation supervision or commiting an offence, may be dealt with by a “standard” or fixed-term recall, depending on the circumstances. In cases where the Secretary of State is not satisfied that the offender may be safely released at the end of the fixed term period, they will be given a standard recall and will be required to remain in custody until the end of the sentence, unless released earlier by the Parole Board or Secretary of State. Offenders on HDC who are given a fixed-term recall of 14 days (for sentences under 12 months) or 28 days will be released after the fixed-term has been served, or at the automatic release date, whichever is later.

It is not possible readily to show the number of offenders on HDC throughout each month and, therefore, the proportion of those who were reported for a potential breach. The table below gives the number of people on HDC at the end of each month of 2019 plus the total number of reports of potential breach of the curfew related conditions of HDC licences received from the electronic monitoring provider each month.

HDC Caseload and Reports of potential breach of curfew 2019 by month

Month

HDC caseload

Reports

January

2,835

605

February

2,877

384

March

2,950

384

April

2,928

432

May

2,956

452

June

2,953

503

July

2,884

510

August

2,890

470

September

2,807

449

October

2,740

505

November

2,827

407

December

2,747

397

Total

N/A

5498

1.The figures in this table have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

2. This table includes the number of prisoners on HDC at a fixed point each month and not the total number of offenders who have been on HDC at some point during the month.

3. This table includes the total number of reports received each month and not the total number of offenders reported for potential breach each month. Some will be reported for potential breach on more than one occasion across months.


Written Question
Employment Tribunals Service: Fees and Charges
6 Jul 2020, 12:30 p.m.

Questioner: Imran Hussain

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what discussions his Department has had with the Law Commission on the reintroduction of employment tribunal fees.

Answer (Chris Philp)

The Ministry of Justice hold regular discussions with many organisations, including the Law Commission, about various policy areas. There have been no decisions regarding the re-introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal. The Government is committed to the effective enforcement of employment rights. Should we bring forward any formal proposals relating to the re-introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal, they would be subject to a full public consultation.


Written Question
Crimes of Violence and Homicide: Ethnic Groups
3 Jul 2020, 2:20 p.m.

Questioner: Philip Davies

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the ethnicity was of (a) the perpetrator and (b) the victim in each case of (i) grievous bodily harm/unlawful wounding, (ii) grievous bodily harm/wounding with intent and (iii) attempted murder in each of the last three years.

Answer (Alex Chalk)

The Ministry of Justice has published data on the number of prosecutions and convictions, including the ethnicity of the defendants, in England & Wales up to December 2019. This data is available here:

Principal offence proceedings and outcomes by Home Office offence code data tool

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/888344/HO-code-tool-principal-offence-2019.xlsx

Select ‘Offence’ and search: (i) ‘8F Wound/ inflict grievous bodily harm without intent’, (ii) ‘5A Wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm’ and (iii) ‘2 Attempted murder’. Open the field list (click anywhere on the table) then drag and drop the ‘Ethnicity’ variable from the ‘filters’ box into the ’rows’ box.

The total number of convictions for defendants of each ethnic group since 2013 will be shown in rows 39-44.

The Ministry of Justice does not hold information on victim characteristics unless specified in statute.


Written Question
Administration of Justice: Human Trafficking
3 Jul 2020, 2:14 p.m.

Questioner: Nickie Aiken

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department made of the potential effect on access to justice for victims of trafficking prior to the introduction of the legal aid fixed fee for asylum and immigration legal aid work.

Answer (Alex Chalk)

The Lord Chancellor is committed to ensuring that everyone can access justice and has a statutory duty as set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO 2012) to ensure that legal aid funding is available for the civil legal services set out in Schedule 1 of LASPO 2012.

The legal aid fee scheme for asylum and immigration work is payable for all immigration and asylum matters that are in scope of LASPO, and the new fixed fees for immigration and asylum appeals apply to all legally-aided appeals before the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber).

These new, temporary fees were introduced as part of our swift response to the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that the tribunal system could continue to function and vulnerable clients could still access justice. As such our consideration on access to justice was based on the immigration and asylum system as a whole rather than individual appellants or appeal types. The Lord Chancellor has already committed to a formal consultation before any permanent fee is set.


Written Question
Registration of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships: Coronavirus
3 Jul 2020, 2:10 p.m.

Questioner: Daniel Zeichner

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether local authorities plan to (a) provide extensions to notice of marriages that have expired and (b) waive fees for replacement applications for expired notices as a result of covid-19.

Answer (Alex Chalk)

We understand the frustration couples who have had to postpone their wedding or civil partnership must be feeling.

The requirement to solemnize a marriage within twelve months of giving notice to marry is set out in primary legislation, which does not provide for extending this period. It would require primary legislation to change this. We are exploring what changes might be possible in relation to the law at this time.

The fees charged by local authorities for giving notice can be reduced, waived or refunded on compassionate grounds or in cases of hardship. It is for each local authority to determine when this can be applied.


Written Question
Magistrates: Retirement
3 Jul 2020, 2:06 p.m.

Questioner: Dr Julian Lewis

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to his oral contribution of 9 June 2020, Official Record, column 150, to the hon. Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, on retirement ages for magistrates, what form will the proposed consultation take; when that consultation will (a) open and (b) close; what degree of urgency will be applied in the light of the backlog of cases resulting from the effects on the court system of the covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make it his policy temporarily to suspend the existing retirement age for (i) magistrates and (ii) the wider judiciary, in order to process that backlog in a timely manner.

Answer (Chris Philp)

We will be issuing a public consultation on proposals to raise the mandatory retirement age for most judicial office holders, including magistrates in the near future.

Many judges can already be authorised to sit past the mandatory retirement age but this provision does not exist for magistrates. Primary legislation would be required to amend the mandatory retirement age or to enable magistrates to temporarily sit beyond the existing mandatory retirement age.


Written Question
Magistrates' Courts
2 Jul 2020, 5:17 p.m.

Questioner: Dr Julian Lewis

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate his Department has made of the rate of escalation of cases awaiting trial in magistrates courts; what the size of the backlog has been in each of the last three months; what recent assessment he has made of the likelihood of witnesses' testimonies being held to be reliable, if up to five years elapse between alleged offence and the accused facing trial; what the effect of such delay is likely to have on public confidence in the Justice system; and if he will take steps, on a temporary basis if necessary, to reduce that backlog.

Answer (Chris Philp)

The work to reduce the backlog is moving at pace so we can continue to increase the number of trials. More than 150 courts remained fully open to the public throughout the pandemic and by the middle of July all court centres will have reopened. We have prioritised the most urgent cases, such as domestic abuse and COVID-19 related cases, to keep the public safe, and the interests of victims and witnesses are continually considered as a part of the reopening of courts.

Data showing the number of outstanding cases in the Magistrates Court is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/hmcts-weekly-management-information-during-coronavirus-march-to-may-2020

A courts recovery plan has been published which will sets out the urgent next steps that we are taking to increase capacity in the courts: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/court-and-tribunal-recovery-update-in-response-to-coronavirus


Written Question
Trials: Coronavirus
2 Jul 2020, 3:39 p.m.

Questioner: Daniel Zeichner

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what plans the Government has to tackle the backlog of trials as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Chris Philp)

COVID-19 has been an unprecedented challenge for the criminal justice system, but we have kept courts open and cases flowing through the system throughout. The UK has been a global leader and we are ahead of comparable systems.

The most time-critical hearings have continued to take place in the Magistrates’ Courts, including hearings where the defendant is in custody or there is a risk to the public, as well as dealing with applications to extend custody time limits. In Crown Courts, jury trials were restarted on the 18 May and I am pleased to say that we will have reopened all courts by mid-July.

HMCTS has now published a Court Recovery Plan, which sets out that court operating hours will be extended, alternative venues will be used as courts to increase capacity and the use of the Cloud Video Platform (CVP) will be rolled out into all Magistrates’ and Crown Courts. Further measures to increase jury trial capacity are also being explored. The Court Recovery Plan can be accessed via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/court-and-tribunal-recovery-update-in-response-to-coronavirus


Written Question
Prisoners' Release: Reoffenders
1 Jul 2020, 5:16 p.m.

Questioner: Layla Moran

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of prisoners on short-term sentences re-offended after being released from prison in each year since 2015.

Answer (Lucy Frazer)

Please see the link below that details how many and what proportion of prisoners re-offended after being released from prison, ordered by sentence length. The figures for adult offenders can be found in table C2a and the figures for juvenile offenders can be found in table C2b. The latest data available goes up to March 2018.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/872392/proven-reoffending-jan18-mar18-annual.ods

Reforms we have recently announced to probation will tackle reoffending by delivering more investment in skilled probation staff and ensuring stronger, service user informed support and supervision for offenders.


Written Question
Non-molestation Orders: Coronavirus
1 Jul 2020, 5:14 p.m.

Questioner: Mark Tami

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department has taken to ensure that court hearings for breaches of non-molestation orders take place promptly during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Chris Philp)

HMCTS is working closely with the Judiciary and criminal justice agencies to ensure cases that need to be prioritised can be.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders and Non-Molestation orders have been placed in the highest category of work in the magistrates’ and family courts for urgent hearings.

The prioritisation of cases and trials is a judicial decision and the senior judiciary has issued the following guidance:

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Note-on-Listing-Magistrates-SPJ-DSPJ-14.04.20-FINAL.pdf


Written Question
Solicitors Regulation Authority
1 Jul 2020, 4:35 p.m.

Questioner: Peter Kyle

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the Solicitor's Regulation Authority on ensuring good practice among immigration solicitors.

Answer (Alex Chalk)

The legal profession in England and Wales is independent of Government and solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Solicitors must comply with detailed Code of Conduct, which ensures that high standards of conduct are met.

The SRA has undertaken a range of work including carrying out research and a thematic review into the quality of service delivery, and consulting on changes to their Standards and Regulations to confirm regulatory arrangements for immigration solicitors.

Guidance was published for the profession to accompany the thematic review, which highlighted common risks that solicitors and firms face when they provide immigration services.

The SRA Risk Outlook also regularly reminds the profession of managing risks involved with working with vulnerable clients, which includes those seeking immigration work.

The SRA is already working with charities, consumer representatives, provider representatives, other regulators and the Legal Ombudsman to consider whether there is more they can do to help ensure immigrants and asylum seekers understand their rights and can access quality advice.


Written Question
Suicide: Armed Forces
1 Jul 2020, 4:31 p.m.

Questioner: Dr Julian Lewis

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will take steps to instruct the Coroner's Service to ascertain and record, in all cases of suicide, whether the deceased was a (a) present or (b) former member of the (i) Regular Armed Forces or (ii) Reserves.

Answer (Alex Chalk)

Every suicide is a tragedy and we take the welfare of our service men and women, whether veterans or current members of the Armed Forces or Reserves, very seriously.

The Government recognises that personal information about victims of suicide can be used to improve understanding of “at risk” groups and, from that, to support better targeted interventions. But for data on suicides amongst veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces or Reserves to be of value, the information collected must be reliable, consistent and comprehensive. For a number of practical and administrative reasons, including the parameters of the coroner’s role, this isn’t possible in the context of coroner suicide conclusions and there are no plans, therefore, to require coroners to record whether the deceased had served in the Armed Forces or Reserves.

The Chief Coroner has given coroners clearer guidance so that deaths, including suicide, are recorded more consistently.


Written Question
Ministry of Justice: Incentives
1 Jul 2020, 4 p.m.

Questioner: Kate Osamor

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many reward and recognition nominations have been (a) made and (b) approved by his Department for people in each category of (i) ethnicity and (ii) gender in each year since 2015.

Answer (Chris Philp)

Under the department’s recognition and reward policies, nominations for awards are proposed and administered at a local level, therefore we do not have a central record of nominations.

Approved awards made in the form of special bonuses and vouchers are available in the Ministry of Justice Workforce Monitoring Reports, which are published annually:

2015/16: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/moj-workforce-monitoring-report-2015-to-2016

2016/17: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/moj-annual-diversity-report-2016-to-2017

2017/18: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ministry-of-justice-workforce-monitoring-report-2017-to-2018

2018/19: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ministry-of-justice-workforce-monitoring-report-2018-to-2019

The published data covers awards issued in the form of special bonus for each year up to March 2019. The published data in 2018/19 also includes award issued in the form of vouchers.

Awards data covering April 2019 to March 2020 will be published in the Ministry of Justice Workforce Monitoring Report for 2019/20 in due course.