4 June 2007
Press Notice No 9
WELSH PRISONERS IN THE PRISON ESTATE
3rd Report of Session 2006-07 (HC 74)
More prisons need to be built in Wales to combat the pressures of overcrowding and to enable prisoners to be held closer to home.
This is the conclusion of a Report by the Welsh Affairs Committee: Welsh Prisoners in the Prison Estate, published today (Wednesday 6 June).
The Committee said new prisons are needed in Wales, particularly for juveniles and young men and for all prisoners from North and Mid Wales where there are no custodial facilities. The Committee also wants to see better, more community based provision for women prisoners.
The Committee held its inquiry in response to concerns about the imprisonment of nearly half of Welsh prisoners outside Wales. There are currently only four prisons in Wales, all of which are in South Wales; there is no prison for women in the country.
The Report's main recommendations include:
Male prisoners and juveniles
New prison facilities should be built in North Wales to accommodate up to 500 male prisoners in low and medium security categories.
Proposals should be drawn up to provide extra prison capacity in South Wales.
Additional juvenile custodial facilities should be provided within Wales.
Female prisoners need to serve their sentences closer to home and maintain better contact with their families.
A new approach should be taken to managing female offenders, including the provision of community based custodial centres, and a network of locally based residential women's centres.
There should be better links between community based and prison services for women. In particular, better provision of probation supervised hostel accommodation is needed for prisoners returning to the community.
The high levels of mental ill-health amongst Welsh prisoners needs to be addressed by improving mental health practice and staff training in prisons.
The NHS should take the lead on the management and care of self-harming women in prisons.
Welsh language and education and training
There is poor provision of Welsh language materials in some prisons holding Welsh prisoners.
Good links need to be established between prisons, the Welsh Language Board and with other bodies that can provide advice on Welsh language programmes.
A more proactive approach to the collection of data is needed so that there is no undercounting of Welsh speakers among the prison population.
There should be greater consistency in education and training qualifications between prisons so that prisoners are able to continue their programmes if transferred.
The work of rehabilitation and resettlement agencies is hampered by the difficulty of keeping regular contact with Welsh prisoners held a long way from home. The Government should give an assurance that the resources allocated to rehabilitation and resettlement agencies reflect this.
The Home Office should fund restorative justice pilot schemes in Wales.
Commenting on the Report, the Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, Dr Hywel Francis MP said: "The availability of prison places of an appropriate type is obviously a big issue in Wales, as elsewhere. Neither north, mid or south Wales has adequate facilities and different parts of Wales have particular needs which our Report details. I believe that it is vitally important for the Home Office to address these issues as a matter of urgency."
For further information, or if you wish to receive a copy of the Report, please call 020 7219 6189 or e-mail: [email protected]
Copies of the report will also be available from the Vote Office, House of Commons, the Parliamentary Bookshop, Parliament Street and The Stationery Office, Cardiff (tel 02920 395548 or 0345 585463) and will also appear on the Committee's home page at:
Membership of the Committee:
Dr Hywel Francis MP (Chairman), Mr Stephen Crabb MP, David T. C. Davies MP, Nia Griffith MP, Mrs Siân James MP, Mr David Jones MP, Mr Martyn Jones MP, Jessica Morden MP, Albert Owen MP, Mark Williams MP, Hywel Williams MP