Prisoners: Females

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 11th March 2015.

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Photo of Siân James Siân James Labour, Swansea East

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what (a) Welsh language library books and (b) other facilities there are for women in English prisons whose home postcode is in Wales.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Prison library providers make sure that the range of reading and reference material available in each library reflects the diverse needs of the prisoners held. Prison Service Instruction 02/2015, published in February 2015, has an expectation that the language needs of prisoners should be met where this is reasonably possible. The number of books available in any given language will be proportionate to the population's requirement.

An inter-library loan request service, facilitated by the librarian or library assistant, enables prisoners to request books in the same way as library users in the community. Welsh speakers can ask for Welsh language books to be provided via this service.

Information about what particular Welsh language library books are stocked in female prisons in England is not held centrally and will need to be collated through enquiries at these prisons. At HMP Eastwood Park, which holds the largest number of women with home postcodes in Wales, and also at HMP Styal, I have enquired about the availability of Welsh language books and seen Welsh language books in both libraries. I will write to the hon Member when we have been able to obtain any additional information about Welsh language books in other women’s prisons.

Women prisoners whose home postcode is in Wales have the same access to facilities as all other women prisoners, to support their appropriate rehabilitation and their resettlement back to Welsh communities. This includes the provision of Welsh language services, under the Welsh Language Scheme, for prisoners whose preferred language is Welsh.

There are strong links between HMP Eastwood Park and the National Offender Management Service in Wales. A number of initiatives provide resettlement support to Welsh women prisoners there. These include the Integrated Offender Management Cymru: Women's Pathfinder project, which is seeking to design and deliver a women-specific, integrated, whole-system approach to working with those who come into contact with the criminal justice system in Wales and which includes other relevant female prisons.

HMP Styal, which holds women whose home is in North Wales, also has strong links with Wales. As a member of the Women’s Pathfinder Project Board along with HMP Eastwood Park, Styal is involved in the development of the project, which is due to be piloted in North Wales from April 2015 and which will link directly with the prison.

The new arrangements for transforming rehabilitation are expected to strengthen the links between women offenders whose homes are in Wales, and all the prisons in which they serve their sentence.

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