HC Deb 18 July 1946 vol 425 cc1368-70
28. Sir Ralph Glyn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the number of persons now undergoing sentences of imprisonment, indicating penal servitude as a separate item; what is the present accommodation for these prisoners; how far are these numbers in excess of that for which prison buildings were designed; and what steps it is intended to take to provide for these abnormal number of persons.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)

As the answer involves a number of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Will the right hon. Gentleman provide extra accommodation for the bakers?

Mr. Ede

I understand we can accommodate them.

Following is the answer:

On 18th June there were in local prisons and Borstal reception centres 11,327 men and 915 women, convicted and unconvicted. There is cell accommodation in these prisons and centres for 10,594 men and 1,034 women, and hutted accommodation in occupation by 680 men. These figures include 770 young men and 6o young women who were awaiting removal to Borstal institutions and 1,380 men and 65 women serving sentences of penal servitude. On the same date there were in the convict prisons, with accommodation for 1,580 men and 70 women, 1,174 men and 53 women serving sentences of penal servitude.

In order to meet the need for additional accommodation, Pentonville Prison has been reopened, and the prisons at Northallerton, Reading, and Canterbury will be reopened shortly. A hutted camp has also been taken over for the star class convicts now at Camp Hill prison, to enable that establishment to revert to its former use as a Borstal institution. Negotiations are also proceeding for the acquisition of a mansion and a hutted camp to serve as regional training prisons for the Midland and South-West regions. I hope that when all this accommodation is in use there will be adequate accommodation available for at least the present level of prison population.

29. Sir R. Glyn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many youths undergoing training in Borstal establishments have escaped from custody during the past six months; how many have, after release from these establishments, been sentenced to various terms of imprisonment during the same period; and to what extent recent attempts to find adequate and suitable accommodation have been carried out.

Mr. Ede

From 1st January to 30th June, 1946, 299 youths escaped from custody in Borstal institutions of whom all but 19 have been recaptured up to date. During the same period 771 persons whose previous sentence was a sentence of Borstal detention were sentenced to imprisonment. Since 1st January two additional Borstal institutions have been opened, two more will be opened next month, and premises for two more will, it is hoped, be ready for use in the near future. In addition, a Borstal reception centre has been opened in new premises, and Northallerton Prison is to be used for collecting boys awaiting removal to a reception centre.

Sir R. Glyn

As the right hon. Gentleman stated in this House some time ago that he was dissatisfied with present arrangements, and the record he has just recited shows that the situation is not satisfactory, can he assure the House that nothing will be done to prevent the proper treatment of these youths at a Borstal institution as originally laid down, and that they will not be put into criminal gaols?

Mr. Ede

I am doing all I can, and the latter part of the answer I read gave some indication of what is being done to improve the unsatisfactory position, which is already less unsatisfactory than it was. I hope that when the full programme I have described to the House is completed, the desires of us all for the proper treatment of these lads will be realised.

Mr. Hector Hughes

In order to diminish overcrowding in prisons and in Borstal institutions, will the right hon. Gentleman consider calling in aid some of the large buildings which were built for war purposes and which are now redundant?

Mr. Ede

I am in course of adapting some of those buildings.