On 3rd April 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on prison suicides.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the increasing annual number of self-inflicted deaths in prisons since 2012, what steps they are taking to reduce the number of such deaths. [HL6247]Continue reading
On 20th February 2017, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood asked the Government “what is their response to the recommendation of Michael Gove, the former Secretary of State for Justice, in his November 2016 Longford Lecture that the approximately 500 Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) prisoners “who have been in jail for far longer than the tariff for their offence” should be released.” The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a supplementary question.Continue reading
On 19th January 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered questions in the House of Commons from MPs on Israel/Palestine, human trafficking, prisons, social media, low carbon economy, tourism and lead theft. The transcript is below:
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?
On the 2nd December 2016 the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate led by the Archbishop of Canterbury on shared values and their role in shaping public policies. She highlighted the compassionate hospitality which this country has shown generations of refugees alongside the work she is undertaking in Gloucestershire to build community, standing ‘with’ rather than ‘othering’ people to promote human flourishing.
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury on his foresight in tabling this debate on shared values. I also add my own congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, on their poignant and insightful maiden speeches.
In the diocese of Gloucester, I have recently been talking to young people about body image and reflecting with them on how their true worth begins deep within, the place from which true values emerge and are lived. Last Saturday, I hosted a huge community party in Cheltenham to publicly launch our new vision for the diocese of Gloucester. The vision has emerged from conversations in local communities, urban and rural, involving about 6,000 people, churchgoers and otherwise, discussing what sort of church they want to see in their communities.The vision is one of human flourishing and transformation, emanating from those words of Jesus from the gospel of John:
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.
That is a good starting place when it comes to talking about values.Continue reading
On 8th November 2016 Lord Patel of Bradfordasked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they are taking to address reports of increasing levels of violence in prisons.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, I have been in and out of prisons quite a lot, usually in support of the excellent multifaith chaplaincies that attest to the importance of the spirit of human beings. In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in the number of suicides, and in self-harm and violence. The recently published strategy for prison safety and reform is very welcome. Does the Minister agree that an imaginative and creative approach to education and the development of people’s spirit is an essential part of prison life for all those who have offended and are being punished?Continue reading