HC Deb 10 July 1962 vol 662 cc1130-1
11. Mr. Manuel

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in which Colonies and Protectorates it is still the practice to attach ankle chains to prisoners; and to what categories of prisoners this treatment is applied.

Mr. H. Fraser

I am asking colonial Governments for a full and up-to-date report and I will write to the hon. Member when it is received.

Mr. Manuel

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that several years ago I put down a similar Question and received quite a lengthy list of Territories in which these restraints were still being practised. Will the hon. Gentleman indicate to the House that the Government of this country arc totally against the use of ankle fetters and leg irons, and will he pledge his right hon. Friend to take all the steps he can to have these mechanical restraints completely discontinued in these areas?

Mr. Fraser

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the Report on mechanical restraints in prisons in Colonial Territories which was placed in the Library in 1957. In regard to a pledge, there are special conditions whereby I cannot give such a pledge. I can, however, give a pledge that these fetters and so forth are never used as punishment, but they have to be used in certain areas in order to prevent escape during block transfers, to prevent prisoners injuring themselves and for other types of purely preventive uses. [HON. MEMBERS: Shocking."] I regret to say that this is the fact, but I will certainly look into the matter and write to the hon. Gentleman when I have a precise statement from each of the colonial Governments concerned.

Mr. Healey

Would not the Under-Secretary agree in principle that it is most undesirable that these mediaeval methods of restraint should be used in a British Colony, and will not he seriously consider issuing instructions to the colonial Governments to adopt a quite different and more humane method of restraint?

Mr. Fraser

I do not want to delude the House, but, quite often, in these Territories, where there are enormous areas to be covered and where there are not large gaols where prisoners have to be kept, it follows that there has, at least, to be some use of handcuffs or shackles of various sorts. This is the basis of the mechanical restraints. I will certainly look into it, and in the process of finding the information which the hon. Member wants I shall be prepared to come back to the House and make appropriate comment.

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