Friday 22 September 2017

Prisoners' underwear limit lifted

Simon Hughes said there should be no restriction on the item of clothing for women in custody
Simon Hughes said there should be no restriction on the item of clothing for women in custody

A limit on the amount of underwear prisoners are allowed to possess has been lifted, the Government has said.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes told MPs he had insisted there should be no restriction on the item of clothing for women in custody.

And the Ministry of Justice has confirmed feedback from prison governors has resulted in changes to the property prisoners are allowed to have, including the ending of the fixed limit on the number of items of underwear.

The Prison Reform Trust reported in December 2013 that it had been contacted by female prisoners who could not get hold of enough clean underwear to keep them hygienic during their period.

Speaking during justice question time in the Commons, Labour's Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) told Liberal Democrat front-bencher Mr Hughes: "Clothes, books and stationery are the very necessities of life.

"You will know about the Independent Monitoring Board's report into New Hall prison and the effect it has on the female estate.

"Could you at least review the effect of the one parcel of clothing on women's prisoners?"

Mr Hughes, whose ministerial brief includes female offenders, replied: "The incentives and earned privileges policy framework is important reform to make sure that privileges of prisoners are no longer automatic.

"This was reform we brought in, it wasn't the case under the last Labour government, I hope the Labour Party now supports that - that people should earn privileges.

"But in relation to women's clothing, women prisoners are not required to wear prison clothing. They don't have to earn the right to wear their own clothing unlike male prisoners.

"There's always been a restriction on the number of items of clothing that they can have in their cells, but I have insisted there must be no restriction on the amount of underwear that they are permitted at all times when they're in custody."

In a statement, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Following feedback from prison governors, last year we made a few minor adjustments to the property prisoners are allowed to have.

"There is no longer a numerical limit on the amount of underwear that prisoners can have in possession."

Press Association

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