On 18th May 2021 the Bishop of Gloucester took part in the fourth day of debate in the House of Lords on the Queen’s Speech. She focused on criminal justice, violence against women and girls, and online safety:
My Lords, I too look forward to the maiden speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Fullbrook and Lady Fleet. In my few minutes, I shall briefly mention women in the criminal justice system, the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, violence against women and girls and the online safety Bill. I refer to my interests in the register, as Anglican bishop to prisons.
I begin by asking: when will we see a renewed timetable for the 2018 female offender strategy? While I welcome the implementation of some of the deliverables, analysis by the Prison Reform Trust shows that the Government have met less than half the commitments. The concordat published last year does not appear to have been progressed. Then there was that shocking announcement of 500 new prison places for women, totally at odds with the strategy’s direction to reduce the number of women in prison. What evidence is it based on, and why is the designated £150 million not being spent on women’s centres and implementing the concordat?
Continue reading “Queen’s Speech – Bishop of Gloucester on criminal justice, violence against women and girls, online safety”
On 16th December the Bishop of Southwark asked a question in the House of Lords during exchanges following a question about prisoners with Covid-19:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark [V]:
Your Lordships will have heard me mention that there are five prison establishments located within my diocese. In respect of one of them, will the noble Baroness join me in paying tribute to the governor of Her Majesty’s Prison Wandsworth, Graham Barrett, who was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his sterling efforts during the Covid pandemic in keeping infection rates so low in the jail—and indeed to all Prison Service staff recognised in this way for achieving so much in such challenging circumstances?
As the noble Baroness is aware from the previous supplementary question, out-of-cell activity in many establishments is now limited to one hour or less in 24. Can she assure the House that such provision will not slip beyond the 24-hour period into longer periods of confinement, which happens when the 24-hour period is variable?
Will any priority be given to rolling out the vaccine to inmates and staff?
Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark asks Government about Covid vaccinations for prison inmates and staff”
On 16th December the Bishop of Gloucester received written answers to questions on pregnant women and mothers in prison, and the impact on families of the remand backlog:
Prisoners on Remand
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the remand backlog on (1) prison overcrowding, and (2) the health and wellbeing of prisoners, including children and young people held on remand. [HL11119]
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On 2nd and 3rd December the Bishop of Gloucester received written answers to three questions on prisoner release over Christmas and contact with family:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to enable the release on temporary licence of people in prison during the Christmas period. [HL10507]
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On 10th November Lord Ramsbotham asked the Government “when they plan to announce (1) the chair, (2) the timeframe, and (3) the terms of reference, for the Royal Commission on criminal justice.” The Bishop of Durham asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: My Lords, prisoners serving short sentences for non-violent crimes often get stuck in a so-called revolving door, with serious consequences to their family relationships, housing and rehabilitation. Will the commission be considering reports into the issues around short sentences and consider alternatives to custodial sentences, to enable rehabilitation in the community? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks if criminal justice Royal Commission will examine short sentences”
On 21st October Lord German asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on (1) prisons, (2) prisoners, and (3) those on remand, of increasing the maximum period of remand in custody by eight weeks.” The Bishop of London asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, is the Minister aware that many hundreds of remand prisoners in London prisons are now held for much longer periods than before Covid while waiting for a trial date? Her Majesty’s Prison Pentonville alone has over 400 prisoners waiting for unprecedented periods—of over a year—for their cases to be heard. Can she assure your Lordships’ House that action is being taken to relieve this? If so, what action can we expect? Continue reading “Bishop of London voices concern about high number of remand prisoners”
On Tuesday 29th September the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a question she had tabled to Government on its Female Offenders Strategy. The exchanges are below, with the follow-up questions asked by other Members.
Female Offender Strategy
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the level of funding that has been provided to the Female Offender Strategy launched in June 2018, and (2) whether such funding is sufficient to implement the Strategy fully.
Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con): My Lords, we are committed to ensuring sufficient funding for the female offender strategy, which we keep under review. To date, we have invested £5.1 million in the strategy in 30 different women’s services across England and Wales. In 2021, we will invest a further £2.5 million to meet core costs in the women’s community sector. In addition, we have been allocated up to £800,000 to support the development of our first residential women’s centre in Wales.
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: I thank the noble Baroness for her Answer. Given the amount of money that the MoJ spends each year, the high cost of reoffending and the relatively small number of female offenders, why have the Government seemingly invested so little in their own strategy? When will we hear details of the implementation of the strategy, given that it all seems to have gone very quiet? Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about funding for Female Offender Strategy”
On 28th September the House of Lords debated a motion “That this House takes note of the temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 six months after the Act received Royal Assent.” The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I too was pleased to take part in the debate in March and recall noble Lords arguing points that they might not normally argue in that debate. Already in this debate we have heard some interesting contributions. I, too, look forward to the three maiden speeches that we are to hear.
I sense that, with regard to restrictions on people and communities, the next six months may be rather more difficult than the last six months. At the outset there was some sense of shared responsibility, and a deep anxiety about the virulence of the virus led to a high degree of willingness to accept restrictions, even when the messaging about them was, shall we say, less than clear. In my own world, congregations have very largely and willingly sought to order their lives within the various guidelines, and some relished the challenge of going online and got very creative—but there have been costs. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester calls for effective parliamentary scrutiny of coronavirus restrictions”
On 7th August the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, received a written answer to a question from Lord Keen of Elie on the Female Offenders Strategy.
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: HL7520 To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they estimate the Female Offender Strategy will be fully implemented.
Lord Keen of Elie: The Female Offender Strategy (2018) set out our vision to see fewer women entering the justice system and reoffending; fewer women in custody, particularly on short custodial sentences, with more managed successfully in the community; and a custodial environment that enables rehabilitation. The strategy launched an ambitious programme of work to improve outcomes for female offenders and make society safer by tackling the underlying causes of offending and reoffending. This will take several years to deliver, with our planned pilot of a residential women’s centre in at least five sites in England and Wales likely to last until the latter part of this decade.
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On 30th June the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, received a written answer to a question from Lord Keen of Elie on Covid-19 in prisons.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: HL5099 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) prisoners, and (2) staff, were (a) suspected of having, (b) confirmed as having, (3) hospitalised as a result of, and (4) died from, COVID-19 in prisons in England, broken down by region.
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