HC Deb 11 June 1959 vol 606 cc1165-6
33. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the different obligations, under his regulations, on prisoners in open prisons, who give an undertaking, express or implied, not to attempt escape, and prisoners in other prisons who give no such undertaking, and also about the subsequent treatment and punishment in prison of each type of such prisoner who attempt to escape or who actually escape and are recaptured.

Mr. Renton

All prisoners are well aware that it is an offence under the Prison Rules to escape or attempt to escape from any prison, whether closed or open. No prisoners are required to give an undertaking not to try to escape. The punishment of prisoners who escape or try to escape is at the discretion of the appropriate disciplinary authority, subject to the general provisions of the Prison Rules as to maximum punishments. A prisoner who escapes from an open prison would normally be returned to a closed prison.

Mr. Hughes

Is it not the case that prisoners are put into open prisons because there are greater prospects in their case of their returning to good citizenship than in the case of the others? They are put on their word not to escape, while others give no undertaking not to escape. Why are those who escape from open prisons treated differently from those who escape from closed prisons?

Mr. Renton

It is broadly true to say that men sent to open prisons are those considered as more promising from a reformative point of view; indeed, the success rate is higher in regard to the men discharged from open prisons than from closed prisons. No undertakings are obtained from prisoners who go to open prisons. In any event, they are committing an offence if they try to escape.