HC Deb 12 December 1950 vol 482 c953
1. Mr. Boothby

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that the repeated escapes of convicts from Peterhead Gaol are the cause of trouble and public expense, as well as of apprehension in the neighbourhood; and whether he will institute an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding these escapes, with a view to preventing a recurrence.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Miss Herbison)

Twelve prisoners have escaped from Peterhead Prison during the last three years. Nine were recaptured within 24 hours, one within two days and two within three days. They committed no offences while at liberty except, in two cases, the theft of motor cars to assist their escape. Full investigation is made into each escape, and my right hon. Friend does not consider that any further inquiry is necessary.

Mr. Boothby

Arising out of that answer, may I ask the hon. Member whether it is not a fact that gangs of convicts are now allowed to work in the open country, sometimes until after dusk, with only one unarmed warder in charge, and that there is nothing to prevent a determined man from just strolling away until he is recaptured? Will she realise that this situation is causing increasing apprehension and alarm in the neighbourhood, especially as the last man, a convicted murderer, went into a farm—

Mr. Speaker

This is a speech and not a supplementary question.

Miss Herbison

Each case that occurs is investigated by the governor, who must send a report to the Department. Where it is thought necessary, one of the Department's officials conducts an inquiry on the spot. We are quite certain from the evidence we have had from those inquiries that there is neither laxity of administration nor, indeed, of discipline in this prison.

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