Prisons: HMP Belmarsh

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th May 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Stern Baroness Stern Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they have taken to respond to the recommendation by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons in his recent report on HMP Belmarsh that the library should increase its opening hours so that all prisoners have access to it.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they have taken to respond to the recommendation by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons in his recent report on HMP Belmarsh that not all cells in the High Security Unit and Special Security Unit were equipped with furniture and furnishings in line with the Prison Service's operating standards for such units.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the conclusion of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons in his recent report on HMP Belmarsh that the requirement in the operating standards for the Governor to visit the High Security Unit and the Special Security Unit once a week had not been met.

Photo of Lord Newby Lord Newby Lords Spokesperson (HM Treasury) (Whip), Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

1. The prisoner regime includes a programme to allow access to the library once a week for those not attending education. The implementation of New Ways of Working, which includes the introduction of a new Core Day, will increase the opportunity for prisoners to access the library.

2. All in-use cells on the High Security Unit/Special Secure Unit are appropriately furnished in compliance with national guidelines, which are also included as part of the unit’s operating standards. The cells are also equipped to the specification required for accommodating Category A prisoners. The accommodation on the unit is inspected monthly, to ensure compliance and to maintain decency; this system is audited.

3. The Governor has a programme of visits throughout the establishment; this includes visits to the HSU/SSU. The requirement for a weekly visit is completed by the Governor or the Deputy Governor, and the visits will ensure that all prisoners and staff are frequently seen and any emerging issues are heard and noted. These visits are now recorded for audit and inspection purposes.

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