HC Deb 24 May 1875 vol 224 cc788-9

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to the case of George Winterborne, of Culham, who was convicted on the 17th April before the Oxfordshire magistrates at the Bullingdon Petty Sessions, and fined for having in his possession three plated cups which were not of standard measure, and on conviction he sent to his house about five miles distant for the money, which was paid within three hours, but in the interval his hair and beard were cut off preparatory to his being dressed in a prison suit; and whether there is any regulation or law to justify such conduct on part of the authorities?


Sir, I shall be happy to give the hon. Member any information in my power in regard to this matter. I have made inquiries into this case, and I find by the prison rules of Oxford Castle it is provided, first, that the gaoler should see that all prisoners are shaved at least once a-week; secondly, that the hair of any female prisoner shall not be cut without her consent, except it is rendered necessary by illness or dirt. The hair of male prisoners is only to be cut so far as is necessary for health and cleanliness. A letter which I have received from the clerk to the visiting justices states that this man was admitted to the prison about a quarter past 1, on the 17th April, for non-payment of a fine of £2, and that when he arrived his hair was in a state which required cutting. He had no beard, and therefore that could not be cut, but he did grow whiskers continuously under his chin. It so happened, being Saturday afternoon, that the prison barber came on his rounds shortly after 2 o'clock, and Winterborne's hair was, with his consent, cut, and with no greater closeness than if he had entered a barber's shop. The hair under the chin was also shaved.