Lewes Prison

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th March 1999.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 12:00 am, 15th March 1999

What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of measures taken to minimise noise disruption for residents living close to HMP Lewes. [74583]

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

There has been a prison at Lewes since 1853. Staff have acted on residents' concerns. Any prisoner found shouting from a cell window will be placed on a disciplinary charge. Cell windows overlooking the main road have been adjusted to control the level of noise.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

I am sorry to raise what appears to be a minor matter in this way, but I do so because I have failed to get a solution to the problem from the prison governor or from the head of the Prison Service in a face-to-face meeting. Noise continues for up three hours an evening. Abusive and foul language is shouted out of prison windows with no apparent control in the prison to stop it. It causes great disturbance to my constituents who, at a recent meeting, said that they were fed up with it and wanted a resolution. What will the Minister do? I gather that he can change the windows and have them closed so that people cannot lean out, but what is going on in the prison which means prisoners can run riot for three hours?

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I understand that the problem is perpetrated by young offenders. The hon. Gentleman should know that the governor of the prison has been working closely to address the noise problem with the environmental health department, which has written to the prison to say that it is pleased by the positive way in which the prison has approached the problem. He should also be aware that the person who originally raised the complaint has also contacted the governor to express her thanks for the measures taken by the staff at the prison. It might not make good Focus material, but if the hon. Gentleman took up the governor's invitation to discuss the problem, he might have a better understanding of the measures taken.