North West Wales

Prisoner Martin Tate's Welsh-speaking ban lifted in telephone calls

Martin Tate is serving 16 months for aggravated vehicle taking and assault
Image caption Prisoner Martin Tate was told to give 48-hours notice if he wanted to speak Welsh on the phone

Prison service officials have confirmed that they have eased restrictions which meant a Welsh-speaking inmate was told to speak English during phone calls.

Martin Tate was warned that he must give 48 hours notice to speak Welsh to his relatives in Caernarfon, Gwynedd.

Tate is serving a 16-month sentence at HMP Holme House prison on Teesside for vehicle theft.

The issue was challenged by both his MP, Hywel Williams and the Welsh Language Board.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had argued that the 48-hour notice was needed to ensure that translation facilities were available for staff who monitor phone calls.

But the Welsh Language Board said the policy was "unacceptable".

Relatives of the inmate said calls would be cut off by the prison if Tate tried to speak Welsh to them, despite it being his first language.

A spokesperson for Prison Service confirmed on Friday that the rule was now being relaxed for Welsh-speaking prisoners who did not pose a security risk.

However, the service said security measures would remain in place when necessary.

"We have robust security measures in place for monitoring prisoners' phone calls," said the spokesperson.

"Public safety is top priority."

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