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Prisons: Fire Prevention

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 205272, tabled on 4 January 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what reports he has received from senior fire officers on the adequacy of testing of night-time fire contingencies at prisons as a result of their visits to those institutions.

Answered on

16 January 2019

The dates on which public sector prisons in England and Wales last undertook night-time fire contingency exercises; whether a formal report from Fire and Rescue Services was provided; and whether additional staff were requested as a result of such exercises, is provided in the attached table. Arrangements are being made to ensure that prisons listed as not yet completing for the period to undertake a fire contingency exercise.

Prison Fire Safety leads engage regularly with Fire and Rescue Services to ensure contingency plans are fit for purpose, and any issues or concerns are highlighted as part of this ongoing engagement. Additionally, Fire and Rescue Service Senior Fire Officers are required to highlight significant problems or concerns to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Operations Committee. The NFCC have confirmed that no reports on the outcomes of night-time fire contingency testing have been received.

Privately Managed Prisons (PMPs) are also obliged to follow Prison Service Instruction 11/2015, Fire Safety in Prison Establishments. This requires Directors of PMP’s to regularly test the fire contingency plans for both day and night state; contingency plans for fire must be tested at least annually.

Operators of PMPs hold data for their own contract sites. Each PMP has a full-time on-site Controller employed by HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). The Controller has regular review meetings with the contractor against a range of performance indicators. Any concerns in relation to these performance indicators or any other concerns relating to the delivery of the contract are discussed at these meetings. Where action is needed, progress is monitored by the Controller and escalated within HMPPS. Where appropriate action can be taken in accordance with the contract. This may include a requirement for urgent improvement and/or financial deductions.