Prison Service: Disabled

Justice written question – answered on 3rd November 2008.

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Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice

(1) if he will publish HM Prison Service's last (a) three-year review and (b) three annual reviews of its disability equality scheme;

(2) what measures he has put into place to ensure that prison service staff receive independent advice on disability issues following the disapplication of the Home Office Disability Support Network to prison service staff;

(3) what assessment he has made of the merits of introducing a support network for prison service staff with disabilities; and what account that assessment took of (a) the Code of Practice for the Public Sector to promote disability equality and (b) other requirements under disability equality legislation;

(4) what support networks are in place for (a) black and minority ethnic, (b) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and (c) other groups of prison service staff; and what plans he has to introduce a support network for prison service staff with disabilities.

Photo of Shahid Malik Shahid Malik Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

HM Prison Service's Associate Disability Equality Scheme was published in December 2006. The employment duties of the Disability Equality Scheme were encompassed in HM Prison Service's Single Staff Diversity Scheme which was published in April 2007. Copies of both documents will be placed in the Library of the House. I will write to the hon. and learned Member about the review process attached to these schemes.

The Ministry of Justice has a support network for staff with disabilities which all staff within the Ministry, including Prison Service staff, can join as associate members.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) commissioned an independent review of staff support networks for Prison Service staff in April 2008. That review considered options for staff networks that would be in alignment with the business of the agency and this included options for a network for Prison Service staff with disabilities. The agency is currently considering the findings and recommendations of that review.

The review has taken into account the reference in the code of practice for the public sector to public authorities considering having disabled staff network groups as well as ensuring that the agency is compliant with disability equality legislation.

NOMS currently provides an official support network for black and minority ethnic Prison Service staff and an official support network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Prison Service staff. Prison Service staff who have disabilities are currently able to be supported by the Ministry of Justice's support network for staff with disabilities. NOMS is currently considering whether and in what form to establish a separate official network for Prison Service staff with disabilities following an independent review of its staff networks.

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