Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by Philip Davies
(Shipley)
Asked on: 05 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Sentencing: Appeals
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many sentences were reduced on appeal because they were manifestly excessive in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 11 July 2019

Information on the numbers of sentences reduced on appeal because they were manifestly excessive is not held centrally.

Data on appeals against convictions and sentences heard in the Crown Court is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/criminal-court-statistics-quarterly-january-to-march-2019 and data on appeals against convictions and sentences heard in the Court of Appeal is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/civil-justice-statistics-quarterly-january-to-march-2019.

Q
(Oxford East)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 08 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Council Tax: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many (a) women, and (b) men have been given a custodial sentence for the non-payment of council tax in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 11 July 2019

Non-payment of council tax is not a criminal offence and cannot attract a custodial sentence.

Committal to prison can only ever be the last resort for non-payment of council tax. Before a magistrates’ court commits someone to prison for failure to pay their council tax, it must have issued a “liability order” and the local authority must have (at least) tried and failed to take control of the debtor’s goods and sell them to recover the debt. Councils have additional powers of enforcement under a liability order, including deduction from earnings, deduction from benefit, charging orders on the property, and bankruptcy. If a council applies for committal to prison, the court must inquire into the debtor’s means, and the council must satisfy the court that there is no other effective method of collection and that failure to pay is due to wilful refusal or culpable neglect. This is to prevent persons who are genuinely unable to pay their council tax from being committed to prison. Where that is the case courts have the power to remit the debt.

The number of people admitted to prison for non-payment of council tax, covering the period 1990 – 2018, can be viewed in Table A2.12 at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/796916/receptions-2018.ods

Q
Asked by Rosie Cooper
(West Lancashire)
Asked on: 28 June 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Industrial Health and Safety
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of health and safety conditions for prison staff.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

The health and safety of our staff and those in our care remains our primary priority. Risks to staff are assessed and suitable controls implemented accordingly. The efficacy of those controls is monitored at local and national level via a variety of processes including joint audit work with prison unions. HM Prison & Probation Service’s (HMPPS) leadership team is kept regularly informed of trends in injuries and ill health and of the status of occupational risks its staff is facing and is thereby in a position to respond accordingly.

HMPPS recognises that the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of employees is paramount. All HMPPS staff have access to an occupational health service and employee assistance programme. This includes 24 hour, 365 days a year access to signposting and counselling; trauma support services; a wide ranging health promotion website and personal wellbeing zone.

It is a priority to ensure that prisons are places of safety and reform and the government has invested an additional £70 million investment in safety, security and decency. This has included £16 million to improve conditions for prisoners and staff and £7 million on new security measures, such as security scanners, improved searching techniques, phone-blocking technology and a financial crime unit to target the criminal kingpins operating in prisons

Q
Asked by John Spellar
(Warley)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Offenders: Unemployment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent estimate he has made of the unemployment rate among former male inmates compared with the rate among the general male population.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

In May last year, we published our plans for reforming prison education and improving employment outcomes for ex-offenders in the Education and Employment Strategy. The strategy created a system in which each prisoner was set on a path to employment, with prison education and work geared towards employment on release from the outset.

In line with this, we introduced new performance measures to record the rates of employment for prison leavers at six weeks post-release. The Department is scheduled to publish the statistical data for this on 25 July in an annex to Community Performance Statistics on Gov.uk, at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/prison-and-probation-trusts-performance-statistics

Q
Asked by John Spellar
(Warley)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners' Release: Employment
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to support people leaving prison to move directly to employment on their release.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

One year ago, our Education and Employment Strategy set out plans to transform the way prisoners develop the skills they need to secure employment on release.

Since then, we have introduced the New Futures Network (NFN), which brokers partnerships between prisons and employers in England and Wales. The Network places prisoners in jobs ahead of their release as well as facilitating Release On Temporary Licence (ROTL) placements, which offer continuity and can lead to immediate employment on release.

In addition, our new ROTL framework aims to increase the number of people these opportunities are available to by allowing more prisoners to access ROTL sooner and for longer.

Q
Asked by Ben Bradley
(Mansfield)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisons: Synthetic Cannabinoids
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many incidences there were of the use of synthetic cannabinoids in prisons in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

Drug testing is an essential element of the HMPPS drug strategy and provides us with robust evidence on the prevalence of drug misuse. It can be used in support of security measures, to identify and signpost into drug treatment, monitor treatment compliance and act as an incentive to engage in treatment and drug free living.

HMPPS continues to explore new methodologies to develop our mandatory and voluntary drug testing frameworks enabling us to be responsive to the changing patterns of drug misuse in prisons. This includes the misuse of prescribed medication, and the dynamic market in psychoactive substances.

Data and information on drug testing is routinely published as part of the normal publication schedule which can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/annual-hm-prison-and-probation-service-digest-2017-to-2018. Data on drug tests in 2018-19 will be published in due course in line with the normal publication schedule.

Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Reoffenders: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the highest number was of previous community orders issued to an offender sentenced to immediate custody in each year since 2007.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

Information on the highest number of previous community sentences received by an offender sentenced to immediate custody, covering the period 2007 – 2018, can be viewed in the attached table.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 10.54 KB)
Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Reoffenders: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the highest number of previous offences was that a convicted person committed for that same offence before receiving a sentence other than an immediate non-custodial sentence in each of the last three years for offences relating to (a) possession of a blade or point, (b) possession of an offensive weapon, (c) common assault, (d) assaulting a police officer, (e) sexual assault, (f) public order, (g) theft, (h) robbery, (i) burglary, (j) drugs, (k) criminal damage, (l) breach of anti social behaviour order, (m) fraud and (n) vehicle taking.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

Information on the highest number of previous cautions and convictions an offender had for a specified offence type before receiving a custodial sentence, covering the period 2016 – 2018, can be viewed in the attached table.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 12.3 KB)
Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Glen Pava Prison and Wellingborough Prison: Contracts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2019 to Question 253599 on Glen Pava Prison and Wellingborough Prison: Contracts, on what date his Department plans to award the Prison Operator Framework; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

On the 5 June 2019 I wrote to the Justice Select Committee to provide an update on the modernisation of the prison estate. In that letter, which I will place a copy of in the House Library, I confirmed the six bidders (G4S Care and Custody Services UK Limited, Interserve Investments Limited, Management and Training Corporation Works Limited, Mitie Care & Custody, Serco Limited, and Sodexo Limited) who had been accepted on to the Prison Operator Services Framework and who are now eligible to bid in future mini-competitions to operate individual prisons. We intend to launch the mini-competition for the first new Resettlement Prison at Wellingborough in July 2019 and anticipate making the award to the successful operator in July 2020.

The Government is committed to a mixed market of custodial services. The Prison Operator Framework will increase the diversity and resilience of the custodial services market in England and Wales, by creating a pool of prison operators who can provide high quality, value for money, custodial and maintenance services and enable us to effectively and efficiently manage a pipeline of competition over the next six years.

Grouped Questions: 271527
Q
(Leeds East)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Glen Pava Prison and Wellingborough Prison: Contracts
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 21 May 2019 to Question 253599 on Glen Pava Prison and Wellingborough Prison: Contracts, on what date his Department plans to announce the result of the mini-competition for the operation of the prison at Wellingborough.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

On the 5 June 2019 I wrote to the Justice Select Committee to provide an update on the modernisation of the prison estate. In that letter, which I will place a copy of in the House Library, I confirmed the six bidders (G4S Care and Custody Services UK Limited, Interserve Investments Limited, Management and Training Corporation Works Limited, Mitie Care & Custody, Serco Limited, and Sodexo Limited) who had been accepted on to the Prison Operator Services Framework and who are now eligible to bid in future mini-competitions to operate individual prisons. We intend to launch the mini-competition for the first new Resettlement Prison at Wellingborough in July 2019 and anticipate making the award to the successful operator in July 2020.

The Government is committed to a mixed market of custodial services. The Prison Operator Framework will increase the diversity and resilience of the custodial services market in England and Wales, by creating a pool of prison operators who can provide high quality, value for money, custodial and maintenance services and enable us to effectively and efficiently manage a pipeline of competition over the next six years.

Grouped Questions: 271526
Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Suspended Sentences
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what number and proportion of those who were given a suspended sentence in each of the last three years were required as part of that sentence to (a) do unpaid work, (b) be subject to a curfew, (c) undertake a treatment programme for alcohol or drug and (d) be subject to a rehabilitation activity requirement.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

Information on the requirements attached to suspended sentence orders is not held centrally. Identifying the information held on record locally could only be done at a disproportionate cost.

Q
Asked by Paul Farrelly
(Newcastle-under-Lyme)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 01 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Animal Welfare: Prosecutions
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate his Department has made of the number of people prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in each of the last 12 months.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

The Ministry of Justice has published data up to December 2018. The number of prosecutions for offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in each of the 12 months of 2018 can be found in the accompanying table.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 14.06 KB)
Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 02 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Burglary: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the average sentence length was for an offender convicted for domestic burglary for offenders for which this was their (a) first, (b) second, (c) third, (d) fourth, (e) fifth, (f) sixth, (g) seventh or (h) eighth or more conviction for that offence in each of the last five years.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

The information requested is provided in the tables attached with this answer. These tables include data on:

  • The average custodial sentence length for offenders sentenced for domestic burglary, broken down by the order of sentence occasion, covering the period 2014 – 2018.
  • The proportion of offenders sentenced for domestic burglary for the third time, broken down by sentence type and sentence length, covering the period 2000 – 2018.
  • The proportion of offenders sentenced for domestic burglary for more than the third time, broken down by sentence type and sentence length, covering the period 2000 – 2018.

This data is not regularly published or held in an easily accessible format. The information supplied has been sourced from a number of complicated queries of the Police National Computer.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 16.76 KB)
Grouped Questions: 272237
Q
Asked by Neil O'Brien
(Harborough)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 02 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Burglary: Sentencing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what proportion of people sentenced for domestic burglary for (a) the third time, (b) more than three times received (i) an immediate custodial sentence of up to three years, (ii) an immediate a custodial sentence of more than three years and (iii) a non-custodial sentence in each year since 1993.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

The information requested is provided in the tables attached with this answer. These tables include data on:

  • The average custodial sentence length for offenders sentenced for domestic burglary, broken down by the order of sentence occasion, covering the period 2014 – 2018.
  • The proportion of offenders sentenced for domestic burglary for the third time, broken down by sentence type and sentence length, covering the period 2000 – 2018.
  • The proportion of offenders sentenced for domestic burglary for more than the third time, broken down by sentence type and sentence length, covering the period 2000 – 2018.

This data is not regularly published or held in an easily accessible format. The information supplied has been sourced from a number of complicated queries of the Police National Computer.

Table (Excel SpreadSheet, 16.76 KB)
Grouped Questions: 272235
Q
(Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Asked on: 02 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners' Release: Housing
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what proportion of prisoners released from (a) HMP Northumberland and (b) prisons nationally have had permanent accommodation on their release in the most recent period for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

Data on the accommodation status of released prisoners for 2017/18 is published at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/community-performance-quarterly-mi-update-to-march-2018. Data for 2018/19 is due to be published on 25 July, at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/prison-and-probation-trusts-performance-statistics

It is vital that everyone leaving prison has somewhere safe and secure to live. Having somewhere stable to live acts as a platform for ex-offenders to be able to access the services and support needed to turn their back on crime for good. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) are working collaboratively with other government departments and interested parties to ensure that we meet the accommodation needs for prisoners on their release.

Grouped Questions: 272305 | 272306
Q
(Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Asked on: 02 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners' Release: Temporary Accommodation
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what proportion of prisoners released from (a) prison and (b) HMP Northumberland have had temporary accommodation to go to on their release in each of the last three years.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

Data on the accommodation status of released prisoners for 2017/18 is published at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/community-performance-quarterly-mi-update-to-march-2018. Data for 2018/19 is due to be published on 25 July, at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/prison-and-probation-trusts-performance-statistics

It is vital that everyone leaving prison has somewhere safe and secure to live. Having somewhere stable to live acts as a platform for ex-offenders to be able to access the services and support needed to turn their back on crime for good. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) are working collaboratively with other government departments and interested parties to ensure that we meet the accommodation needs for prisoners on their release.

Grouped Questions: 272304 | 272306
Q
(Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Asked on: 02 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Prisoners' Release: Homelessness
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what proportion of prisoners released from (a) HMP Northumberland and (b) prisons nationally have had no accommodation to go to on their release in the most recent period for which figures are available.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

Data on the accommodation status of released prisoners for 2017/18 is published at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/community-performance-quarterly-mi-update-to-march-2018. Data for 2018/19 is due to be published on 25 July, at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/prison-and-probation-trusts-performance-statistics

It is vital that everyone leaving prison has somewhere safe and secure to live. Having somewhere stable to live acts as a platform for ex-offenders to be able to access the services and support needed to turn their back on crime for good. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) are working collaboratively with other government departments and interested parties to ensure that we meet the accommodation needs for prisoners on their release.

Grouped Questions: 272304 | 272305
Q
Asked by Jo Stevens
(Cardiff Central)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 04 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice: Serco
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many contracts his Department has awarded to Serco since July 2013; and what the value is of those contracts.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

The Ministry of Justice has awarded no contracts to Serco since July 2013.

Serco has however been successful in its bid to be a supplier on the Prison Operator Services Framework which was executed on the 4th July 2019. There is no financial value nor commitment of work to the Framework itself. The first competition on this Framework will be for the contract to provide custodial services at HMP Wellingborough. Serco will be entitled to bid for this contract.

Q
Asked by Mr Bob Seely
(Isle of Wight)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 09 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Camp Hill Prison
Commons
What progress he has made on the sale of the Camp Hill prison site to Isle of Wight Council.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

We have commissioned a demolition survey of the former prison results should hopefully be available, in late July.

The Camp Hill element of HM Prison Isle of Wight closed on 31 March 2013. In summer 2014, the then Secretary of State decided that the former prison sites at Camp Hill, Reading and Wellingborough would be retained in case they offered a useful contingency option to deal with population pressures. The site was released for disposal on 10 January 2017.

Q
(Bristol West)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 09 July 2019
Ministry of Justice
Bristol Prison: Safety
Commons
What steps he is taking to help ensure a safe regime for (a) staff and (b) prisoners in Horfield prison in Bristol.
A
Answered by: Robert Buckland
Answered on: 09 July 2019

An Urgent Notification was invoked at HMP Bristol on 13th June 2019. There has been some progress at HMP Bristol under Special Measures to bolster staff to a sufficient level, reduce illicit drug use and improve living conditions by refurbishing a wing and a number of the showers. However, we know more support is needed. The Secretary of State will publish his response and an initial action plan within 28 calendar days (on 11th July) in response to the most serious and urgent concerns raised.

Immediate action has been taken to ensure prisoners can speak to Samaritans on their in-cell phones. In addition, action has been taken to address issues raised regarding the safer custody hotline and prevent issues from recurring, so prisoners’ family and friends can report any concerns about a prisoner’s welfare directly to the prison.

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