HC Deb 25 October 1956 vol 558 cc807-8
21 Mrs. Braddock

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prisoners with medical records of epilepsy are in each of Her Majesty's Prisons ;

(2) how many specially equipped cells there are in each of Her Majesty's Prisons for epileptics ;

(3) what special arrangements are made in each of Her Majesty's Prisons to attend to epileptics to prevent them injuring themselves.

Major Lloyd-George

Current figures of epileptic prisoners in each prison are not available. The most recent available annual total figures show that 192 epileptics were received into custody in 1954 and that a further 209 prisoners were recorded as possibly having epilepsy. With two exceptions, in prisons where prisoners with severe epilepsy are detained the number of specially equipped cells for their use ranges from one to seven. In the two such prisons where there is no permanent provision special ad hoc arrangements are made as necessary. Prisoners suffering from epilepsy receive ati-convulsant drugs and other medicinal treatment ; where necessary they are lodged in cells equipped to reduce the likelihood of injury.

Mrs. Braddock

Is the Home Secretary aware that the arrangements which are made are totally inadequate, that some of the epileptic prisoners damage themselves very extensively when they have bad fits, and that the temporary arrangement in a cell consists merely of putting along the side of the wall a mattress which is never high enough to prevent a prisoner banging his head? Will the Home Secretary look at the whole question in the interests of prisoners who are many times in prison as a direct result of epilepsy?

Major Lloyd-George

While not necessarily accepting everything the hon. Lady has stated, in a matter of this sort I am always prepared to consider any suggestions made, and I am willing to do so in this instance.

Mr. Hastings

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give careful consideration to permitting epileptic prisoners to be detained only in prisons which have all the facilities necessary for dealing with them, including what amounts to a padded cell?

Major Lloyd-George

In many cases, where a padded cell is provided, it is hardly ever used. I think that in one of the cases which the hon. Lady had in mind one of the prisoners was not in the special cell but was undergoing treatment and observation in hospital. That sort of thing sometimes happens, and temporary accommodation has to be provided. As I told the hon. Lady, I will certainly look into the matter.

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