HC Deb 06 March 1924 vol 170 cc1576-7

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that there are in Pentonville Prison over 20 inmates mentally and medically unfit confined in observation cells but in charge only of the ordinary disciplinary officer; that at night that disciplinary officer has a duty which requires him to walk over 20 miles; and whether in future it will be arranged to have those inmates in observation cells placed in charge of a medical prison orderly instead of a disciplinary officer?


There are 20 inmates under observation in Pentonville Prison on account of physical or mental defect; they are supervised by a discipline officer, and the officer has to do a great deal of patrolling at night, which, however, would not amount to as much as 20 miles. The cases are those known as minor observation cases. The more serious ones are treated in the hospital. The hospital staff at its present strength cannot spare officers for this duty, but, as the hon. Member was informed on the 28th February, the resources of the Prison Commission in this respect are being steadily improved.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these 20 cases are cases on the border line of insanity?


Yes. I am aware of that, and if we had the staff there would be a difference in treatment.


Is the right hon. Gentleman experiencing any real difficulties in supplementing the present staff, and is he aware that it is a very important matter from the staff point of view as well as from the inmates' point of view?


I have not yet been sufficiently long at the Home Office to find out the difficulties.