HC Deb 07 November 1944 vol 404 cc1261-3
71. Mr. W. J. Brown

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that a woman prison officer at Aberdeen Prison has been called upon to take control of a male prisoner in the prison kitchen; whether this arrangement is in accordance with Prison Regulations; and, if not, in what circumstances this departure from them was authorised.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. T. Johnston)

Male prisoners in Scottish prisons are never controlled by women officers. At Aberdeen prison it has been the practice, when women prisoners are not available, for male prisoners to assist two women officers in the kitchen and laundry. These prisoners work under the immediate supervision of a male officer, except during brief intervals while the latter is on patrol. These arrangements, which are of long standing, have not previously given rise to any difficulty, but, in view of a recent report from the prison governor, steps are being taken to terminate the practice.

Miss Rathbone

Surely, if there is one department in the world where a woman officer can be expected to take control, it is in the kitchen?

72. Mr. W. J. Brown

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that an officer was recently seriously assaulted in Edinburgh Prison by three prisoners, and that at the time of the assault the officer was working entirely alone; and whether, in view of this further evidence of the consequences of the staffing shortage in the Scottish prison service, he will take urgent action to have additional staff provided.

Mr. T. Johnston

Yes, Sir, I regret that an officer was recently assaulted in Edinburgh Prison in the circumstances referred to. The particular duty on which he was engaged had for many years been allocated to a single officer, but steps are being taken to obtain the staff necessary to ensure that in all prisons a second officer is always available when prisoners are being released from their cells.

Mr. Brown

Will my right hon. Friend cast his inquiries a little further, and go into the whole question of stall in prisons in Scotland; because this is not the first assault attributable to shortage of staff?

Mr. Johnston

As the hon. Member is aware, there are great difficulties at the moment in the way of procuring the necessary staff. I think he would be well advised to let us take this first step in the meantime.

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