HC Deb 13 July 1904 vol 137 cc1479-80

I beg to ask Home the Secretary of State for the Department whether his attention has been called to the circumstances attending the sentencing of a convict last Wednesday at Maidstone to twelve months further imprisonment with hard labour for an attack on a warder at Borstal Prison; whether he has noted the fact that the prisoner stated that the warder in question habitually kicked the food into the prisoner's cell; and that on resenting this, he, the prisoner, was beaten with staves by warders to an extent which necessitated the bandaging of his arm by the doctor; and whether, in view of this particular case, and of the frequent attacks on warders at, and attempted escapes from, Borstal during the last few years, he will order an inquiry into the whole question of the conduct of Borstal Prison.


With regard to the first allegation to which the hon. Member refers, inquiry was made at the time and no reason was found for believing what the convict said as to the manner in which his food was served to him. As a matter of fact, the warder he assaulted was not in charge of his cell and did not serve his dinner. The convict's second allegation is incorrect. When brought into the prison after arrest he complained of pain in his arm, and a cold-water bandage was applied by the medical officer; but the injury, if any, was caused in the struggle to stop the assault and effect the arrest, and had nothing to do with the service of his food. Assaults on prison warders are unfortunately inevitable incidents of any large convict establishment where large bodies of criminals—many of them violent and desperate men—have to be kept in association under the control of a small body of warders. The assault to which the hon. Member refers was a murderous one, and could only be properly dealt with by being brought before a Judge of Assize. Though the situation of Borstal makes the number of attempts by convicts to escape somewhat larger than at other prisons, the reports of violence by convicts during the last ten years have been fewer there than at other convict prisons, and in my opinion no inquiry into the discipline is called for. I am satisfied that the administration of the prison is well-conducted.


Was this convict at Borstal one of the special starred class?


I cannot say, but I will get the information.