HC Deb 31 July 1952 vol 504 cc1662-3
6. Mr. Bossom

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will instruct those in charge of Borstal institutions to enforce stricter discipline so as to prevent boys continually escaping, especially those from the Rochester Institution, who frequently come into the Maidstone area and commit serious offences, causing worry to residents.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

The high rate of absconding from Borstal Institutions has given me much concern. The Departmental Committee on Punishments in Prisons and Borstals gave special consideration to the relations between the rate of absconding and the standard of discipline in Borstals. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of their Report, from which he will see that the causes of absconding are complex and that there is no easy solution. The authorities of the institutions are fully conscious of their obligation both to minimise the amount of absconding and to make good losses caused by the absconders.

Mr. Bossom

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that since I put this Question down two have absconded, and that I have now a telegram saying that five more have just done the same thing? They have taken a motor car from Maidstone, bashed in one end and then the other and left it destroyed, causing a lot of trouble and disturbance in that area. If something could be done about this, it would be very much appreciated.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I am giving effect to the recommendation of the Departmental Committee that absconders should be dealt with only by the Board of Visitors and not by the Governor. This is being done by administrative action as an experimental measure. I am considering all the recommendations of the Committee, and if my hon. Friend has anything to add to them I shall be pleased to consider his suggestions.

Mr. Mitchison

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied that there is sufficient staff at these institutions, or do they in that respect suffer from the same difficulties as the prisons?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I do not think that the question of staff is as acute as it is in the prisons, but I have this matter very much in mind.