Prisoners: Foreign Nationals

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 23rd July 2021.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Maidstone: For reporting year March 2020 – February 2021, published on 13 July 2021, what steps he is taking to support effective collaboration between the HM Prison and Probation Service and Home Office Immigration Enforcement to (a) improve communication and end-of-sentence management for foreign national prisoners, (b) reduce the number of detainees held under IS91 provisions and (c) ensure that those detainees held under IS91 provisions are no longer held in closed prisons.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Maidstone: For reporting year March 2020 – February 2021, published on 13 July 2021, what steps he is taking in collaboration with the Home Secretary to ensure that Home Office Immigration Enforcement documents required to be signed by foreign national prisoners and detainees are provided in languages that those prisoners and detainees can fully understand.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Maidstone: For reporting year March 2020 – February 2021, published on 13 July 2021, what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the lack of provision of appropriately translated Home Office documents referred to on page 17 of that report with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Maidstone: For reporting year March 2020 – February 2021, published on 13 July 2021, what steps he is taking to support the restoration of local governor control of that establishment.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Maidstone: For reporting year March 2020 – February 2021, what steps he is taking to ensure that there is adequate funding for appropriate technology services for Independent Monitoring Boards.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Ministry of Justice welcomes the findings of IMB’s report and takes the concerns raised seriously. The Board found positive practices during their visit, but we recognise that the establishment still has a way to go. Some of the issues raised have been exacerbated or delayed by the impact of Covid-19 and are expected to improve as regime restrictions are lifted.

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HMPPS and the Home Office hold regular bilateral meetings to support the management of FNOs. HMP Maidstone have an embedded Immigration Prison Team who run daily appointments for FNOs to seek advice on their case and better manage the expectations of FNOs prior to their removal. Covid-19 has hampered efforts to remove FNOs due to a significant decrease in available flights, however, efforts have continued to remove FNOs via removal schemes throughout the pandemic.

Individuals who are risk assessed as suitable for transfer to an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) will be placed on a waiting list, operated by the Home Office, but will remain in prison accommodation pending that transfer. Transfers will take place as soon as reasonably and operationally practicable. When an individual is deemed unsuitable for a transfer to the immigration removal estate, their circumstances continue to be regularly reviewed. Changes in circumstance can impact this decision and individuals may, on re-assessment, be then considered suitable and accepted for transfer into an IRC.

During the pandemic, covid safe measures such as single occupancy and reverse cohorting (where new intake is separated from the general population) across the IRC estate has resulted in a slower flow of time served foreign national offenders suitable for the estate being transferred, however, where such moves can be operationally set up and space allows, the Home Office have continued to move such individuals and continue to do so.

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As part of the Home Office’s response to the Stephen Shaw’s follow-up report in 2018, an internal review of the quality of interpreter services in IRCs was undertaken. The review findings have helped to inform the development of a new Detention Services Order (DSO) on interpretation services and translation devices, which includes guidance on the translation of documentation. The Home Office aims to publish this DSO by the Autumn. As part of this work HMPPS and the Home Office will review the provision of translated documents to individuals held under immigration powers in prison.

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In March 2020 HMPPS stood up COVID-19 Gold Command to stand alongside the normal incident Gold arrangements, as a direct response to the emerging global pandemic. The aim of the introduction of this function, was to help and support prison group directors and governors in manging COVID-19, offering guidance as to managing a new and complicated set of factors. COVID-19 Gold drew senior HMPPS leaders together with experts from other related fields such as Public Heath England/Wales. Our COVID-19 operational guidance team drafted and published a set of Exceptional Delivery Models, drawing on experience from experts, which were set as templates for establishments, upon which to base their safe delivery. Gold command have processed and authorised these delivery models, when establishments have evidenced it is safe for them to enhance their regime provision.

Whilst HMPPS have effectively been operating in ‘Command Mode’ since March 2020, governors and prison group directors have still maintained a degree of autonomy over the day-to-day running of their establishments, therefore governors have never had their control removed.

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The IMB receive an annual budget from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to support all essential activities and any necessary transformation for the organisation. They are responsible for ensuring compliance with the financial controls in place across the Civil Service and the MoJ, including those mandated by HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office. The IMB Report for Maidstone was published on 13 July, and issues raised within it are currently being assessed by the Department.

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