Prisons: Overcrowding - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:43 pm on 7th September 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 1:43 pm, 7th September 2017

I thank the noble Lord for his comments.

This investment in additional prison staff, plus more effective training, the greater autonomy we have given to governors and the implementation of our commitment to have one key worker for every six prisoners will enable more time directly to supervise offenders, provide essential one-to-one mentoring and support and help reduce the unacceptable levels of assault, self-harm and suicide.

My noble friend Lord Cormack and the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, mentioned private prisons. There are 13 privately managed prisons in England and the Government remain fully committed to a mixed market for public services, drawing on the best of public, private and voluntary providers to improve quality and secure value for money for the taxpayer. We have robust processes in place to closely monitor and manage private contractors and will not hesitate to take action when standards fall short. Using private prisons allows for different financing models, stimulates continuous improvement and encourages the sort of innovation to which the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, referred. It brings commercial rigour into the system, which we feel is essential.

I believe that the reforms and actions I have set out show how we are effectively managing the prison population, now and for the future. In an estate parts of which date back to Victorian times, there are of course significant challenges, but we know where those challenges lie and what is needed to rise to them. With our recruitment of record numbers of prison officers, with our unprecedented prison modernising programme and our focus on rehabilitation and reducing offending rates, we are getting on with that important work to build a prison systems that is safe and secure and transforms offenders’ lives.