Bishop of Durham asks if criminal justice Royal Commission will examine short sentences

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”

Bishop of London voices concern about high number of remand prisoners

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”

Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about funding for Female Offender Strategy

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”

Bishop of Rochester calls for effective parliamentary scrutiny of coronavirus restrictions

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”

Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about implementation of the Female Offenders Strategy

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.

Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about implementation of the Female Offenders Strategy”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about Covid-19 cases in prisons

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.

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government about Covid-19 cases in prisons”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about Covid-19 in prisons

On 16th June the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester received written answers to three questions on coronavirus in prisons.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: HL5101 To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what extent each prison in England and Wales has implemented (1) the compartmentalisation strategy, (2) protective isolation units and shielding units, and (3) reverse cohorting units.

Lord Keen of Elie: We continue to implement our compartmentalisation strategy: isolating the symptomatic, quarantining new arrivals and shielding the vulnerable. This strategy has shown early signs of success in reducing transmission in the prison estate.

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government about Covid-19 in prisons”

Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about cell sharing, shielding and deaths from Covid-19 in prisons

On 16th June the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, received  written answers to three questions on Covid-19 in prisons.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: HL4969 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prisoners (1) meet the criteria for being considered clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, and (2) are currently following shielding guidelines, broken down by prison. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about cell sharing, shielding and deaths from Covid-19 in prisons”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about role of smaller charitable organisations providing probation services

On 15th June a Government statement on probation services was repeated in the House of Lords. Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this discussion. Like others, whatever nuances of language there are, I welcome what I see as a general change of direction.

Predictably, my question focuses on the charitable sector, which others have mentioned, not least the faith-based sector. One of the privileges and joys of my time as bishop to Her Majesty’s prisons has been to see the work of faith-based and community-based organisations all over the country, not least in work through the gate and in seeking to rehabilitate and resettle people into local communities.

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government about role of smaller charitable organisations providing probation services”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about Covid-19 infections in prisons

On 9th June the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester received a written answer to a question from Lord Keen of Elie on the number of prisoners who have had coronavirus and what proportion have been tested.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: HL5097 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prisoners (1) have displayed, or (2) are currently displaying, symptoms of COVID-19; and of those, (a) how many, and (b) what proportion, have been tested.

Lord Keen of Elie: As of Friday, 29 May our management information shows that there were 162 prisoners currently showing symptoms of Covid-19. Of those, 85 (52%) had been tested. Our records show that a further 3450 prisoners had previously displayed symptoms of Covid-19 where cases are now closed. Of those, 1447 (or 42%) had been tested.

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government about Covid-19 infections in prisons”