Written Answers. - Prisons Service.

Michael Bell

Ceist:

133 Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the main features of the four-year strategy document for the prison service; when more modern prison rules will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27650/01]

I assume the document referred to in the question is the Prison Service Strategy Statement 2001-2003, which was published recently. The statement is the first strategy statement to be published by the Prison Service. It defines the mission of the service, the principles which inform its work and the objectives which the service will pursue in the period to end of 2003, including three core objectives of prisoner custody, care and rehabilitation. Copies of the statement are available in the Oireachtas Library.

The following are among the significant features of the statement in regard to the strategic direction of the Prison Service during the period covered by the statement: a commitment to add to the very substantial progress made in recent years in providing an adequate supply of custodial places to accommodate prisoners in decent, modern living conditions; a new emphasis on prisoner rehabilitation involving the delivery of prisoner programmes at all institutions, including programmes specifically addressing offending behaviour. The programmes are to be run, where appropriate, by multi-disciplinary teams of prison officers, probation officers, teachers, psychologists and medical personnel; transition of the Prison Service to agency status, under the guidance of the Prisons Authority Interim Board, in line with Government policy; negotiation of new, more efficient working arrangements for prison staff, and implementation of new, information technology and financial management systems.

The preparation of new rules for the government of prisons has been under way in my Department for some time. A widespread consultation process has taken place. A request for legal drafting of the proposed rules was forwarded recently to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government. When the rules have been drafted, further consultation may need to take place on specific issues.