Prisons: Crimes of Violence

Justice written question – answered on 8th May 2014.

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Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Labour, Dudley North

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice

(1) what steps he is taking to prevent offenders receiving compensation for assault which occurred during their incarceration;

(2) what estimate he has made of the amount of compensation paid to offenders for assaults which took place during their incarceration in each of the last four years;

(3) if he will make it his policy that compensation awarded to prisoners is put towards legal costs and compensation for victims.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Prisoners can pursue civil litigation claims for any assault in prison, but we robustly defend all cases as far as the evidence allows. Each case is dealt with on its own merits and we successfully defend two-thirds of claims brought by prisoners. In those occasions where compensation is awarded to an individual, the law requires that it be paid direct to them and cannot be used for other purposes.

The most effective way to reduce compensation is to reduce violence and the National Offender Management Service has clear policy in place to achieve this. The most recent statistics show prisoner assaults falling, and at their lowest for many years. Notwithstanding this reduction, a comprehensive review of the management of violence is being undertaken and improved guidance will be implemented later this year.

The following table shows the total compensation paid to prisoners following assaults by other prisoners over the last four financial years as a result of civil claims, by way of out of Court settlement or by Court award. The figures exclude private prisons. The figures are drawn from financial management information and as with any large scale recording system data may be subject to possible error in entry and processing of transactions against accounting code.

Financial year Amount paid (£)
2012-13 120,000
2011-12 119,359
2010-11 187,867
2009-10 224,114

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