On the 21st December 2016 the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff tabled and asked a question to Government on the floor of the House: “following the disturbance at HM Prison Birmingham, what measures they will take to address immediate and short-term issues of safety and security in prisons.” The full series of exchanges, including follow-up questions from other Members, is reproduced below:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and I draw the House’s attention to my interest as the Bishop to Her Majesty’s Prisons.
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Keen of Elie): My Lords, while we implement our White Paper reforms, which will reduce violence and reoffending, we are continually working to ensure stability across the prison estate. The Prisons Minister chairs daily meetings with senior members of the Prison Service to monitor potential unrest. Where necessary, we are providing governors with immediate targeted support, such as rapid facilities repairs, and we are in the process of recruiting 2,500 additional officers across the estate.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester
: I am grateful to the Minister for his response. I am also grateful for the debate and discussion in your Lordships’ House on Monday following the Ministerial Statement. In that debate, a number of noble Lords drew attention to the importance of purposeful activity for prisoners, including education, training, work and a range of other rehabilitative programmes. Such activities aid reform, encourage positive behaviour and thus enhance safety and security—but they can also be seriously compromised, not least by staffing issues. Can the Minister assure the House that such programmes will be sustained and ideally increased in the short term as well as the long term?
Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester questions Government about staffing levels in prisons after Birmingham riots”
On 9th November 2016, Baroness Miller asked Her Majesty’s Government “what urgent steps they will take to restore confidence in the Metropolitan Police following the conclusions of Sir Richard Henriques report into Operation Midland.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd. Nick Baines, asked a follow up question about the criteria used to determine whether to make public the name of someone under investigation for sexual offences:
On 29th January 2016 the House of Lords debated at Second Reading the Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill – a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Dholakia. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate, supporting the objective of the Bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years. The Bill was given a Second Reading and proceeded to its next parliamentary stage.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, in rising to support the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia—and, indeed, pledging the support of the church to this campaign—I need to declare an interest: I was a child once and got into some scrapes. Now I am a parent and in the work I do hardly a week goes by when I am not in schools. Indeed, last year I had the sad but very moving honour of opening a garden of remembrance in the diocese where I serve in east London for young people who were the victims of, indeed had been killed by, knife crime. So I do not underestimate the seriousness of the crimes that we are talking about, nor the fact that children and young people do commit them. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford supports Bill to raise age of criminal responsibility”
On 29th October 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Harris of Haringey “that this House takes note of the case for taking action to address the problems of young people before they enter the criminal justice system in order to reduce the prison population, improve conditions within prison, and focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners, as set out in The Harris Review: Changing Prisons, Saving Lives.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I welcome the very thorough and wide-ranging review conducted by the noble Lord, Lord Harris. The Bishop to Prisons, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester, regrets that he cannot be in his place today and contribute to this very welcome debate. The Harris inquiry took every opportunity to talk to young people and to the families who have tragically lost their children while they were in the care of the state in prisons and young offender institutions. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth speaks about needs of young people in the criminal justice system”
On the 24th June Lord Patel asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to achieve parity of esteem between mental health and physical health in prisons.” The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Mike Hill, asked a supplementary question about mental health awareness training.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, given the complex needs of so many prisoners and the fact that those needs have to be addressed consistently, does the Minister agree with me that the risks associated with such prisoners could be greatly reduced were all operational staff in prisons given training on mental health awareness?
Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol calls for training for prison staff in mental health awareness”
On January 22nd 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, took part in a debate on improving access to the criminal justice system and victim support for people with autism spectrum disorders. The debate was precipitated by the case of Faruk Ali, a young autistic man who was attacked in Luton.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness for this debate. As has already been said, Faruk Ali comes from Luton, a town in my own diocese. Quite a number of people have raised that case with me and have been concerned about what happened, so I am glad to be able to involve myself in this debate. However, I will leave it to other noble Lords to comment on the specifics of the debate—I, too, have read the media on this—as clearly it raises a number of wider problems. At an early stage I pay tribute to all those people, both professional and volunteers, who work in the statutory services and in the charitable sector, who are doing a very good job at huge personal cost and with great expertise. We need to acknowledge what they are doing and affirm it before looking at some of the problems. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for improved access to the criminal justice system and victim support for vulnerable people”