Testing prisoners for psychoactive substances

Part of Prisons and Courts Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:00 pm ar 29 Mawrth 2017.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Holly Lynch Holly Lynch Llafur, Halifax 3:00, 29 Mawrth 2017

I thought that the Minister’s response was constructive, and I am grateful. I want to respond to some of the issues he raised; I hear his concern. The new clause is about an extension of the powers to test, which currently have a focus on drugs, and on identifying them in a prisoner’s system; however, there is a key gap with respect to identifying whether someone has a communicable disease.

As to the intention, I appreciate that the evidence in question could contribute to a case brought against a prisoner for biting or spitting at a prison officer; however, it is about establishing in a timely way whether a prison officer would need to embark on anti-viral treatment. That is our key focus. I entirely agree that prison officers would not be qualified to take blood samples from a prisoner and should not do it; what was done would need to involve NHS-qualified staff.

I understand the Minister’s points about shortcomings in the drafting of the new clause, but I am not entirely satisfied that the measures that he has outlined deal with the issue comprehensively enough; we shall therefore reflect on that before there is an opportunity to vote later in the proceedings.