HC Deb 05 May 1960 vol 622 cc1256-8
38. Mr. Grey

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the continuing concern at the fact that girls have to undergo Borstal training at Durham Prison, and the urgent need for them to be removed to a more suitable place, if he will give increased priority to the new security Borstal for girls so as to have it completed well before the end of next year.

Mr. Vosper

The contract for the building of the new security Borstal for girls has already been placed. Work has started and will be completed with all possible speed.

Mr. Grey

Is the Minister aware that this Question, and others which have been asked on the same subject, cast no reflection on the Governor or the staff of the prison, who are doing an extremely good job under peculiar conditions? Does not he think that the position is rather serious and that it calls for greater urgency of action? May I ask whether he has seen reports which have been issued about how near the girls are to the men and the peculiar methods which have been adopted so that women or girls may get in contact with the men? Is he aware that it has also been reported that one woman met her husband in prison? In view of these matters and the fact that the Answer of the Minister indicated that there will be a lengthy period before building work is carried out, can he indicate that more immediate steps will be taken?

Mr. Vosper

I hope that the time will not be long. Priority has been given to this urgent matter and work has started. I will examine the matters to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. Owing to the pressure on the penal system as a whole, no other reorganisation would be possible short of a new Borstal.

Miss Bacon

Is the Minister aware that newspaper reports about this prison were very disquieting? Is he futher aware that the arrangements for women prisoners in the whole of the North of England are most unsatisfactory and that with the exception of Askham Grange, which holds only sixty women prisoners, all women prisoners are accommodated in buildings which also house men prisoners?

Mr. Vosper

That is a different question. The Question on the Order Paper deals with the girls' Borstal. But I accept that the position is not satisfactory. That is why my right hon. Friend is pressing on with the building programme and work has started on reorganising the girls' Borstal system.