HC Deb 13 March 1985 vol 75 cc286-7
2. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the future of the Glenochil young offenders centre.

Mr. Ancram

I have no plans at present to change the regimes of the young offenders institution and detention centre at Glenochil. However, the best use of all penal establishments is kept under regular review.

Mr. Maclennan

Has the Under-Secretary of State noticed that during the 12 years before 1981 there were no deaths at the Glenochil complex, but that since then there have been six deaths? Does that not suggest that, under this Government, shocks may be not only sharp and short, but terminal?

Mr. Ancram

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman's comment, because I believe that he was a member of the Labour Administration between 1974 and 1979. I must say to the hon. Gentleman, if he does not know already, that the regime at the Glenochil detention centre has not changed since 1960. It was acceptable then and, in our view, it is still acceptable. Of course, I am concerned about any deaths at penal establishments, and especially the six deaths at Glenochil since 1976. As we know, they are the subject of inquiry and cannot be commented upon. None of the first five deaths was attributed to the management or regime at Glenochil by the fatal accident inquiry.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

What is the percentage success rate of those who come out of Glenochil and do not return to the recesses of the Scottish penal system? Does my hon. Friend envisage an improvement in those figures in the future?

Mr. Ancram

For obvious reasons, the success figures are not recorded centrally. The whole House must understand that young offenders' institutions and detention centres exist to provide an opportunity for a change of attitude in the persons who are there. Whether they are changed depends on the company that they keep afterwards and their character.

Mr. O'Neill

Does the Minister agree that the statement that was made yesterday by his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for Scotland is helpful, in so far as it goes, in changing sentencing policy? Many of us have asked for that, because the change that has taken place in the public's attitude as a result of the inquiries shows that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the regime. The problem is that in many instances the wrong people are being sent to the institution. Secondly, the information that the Minister gave me yesterday and his response to the last question show that he is completely incapable of justifying the efficacy of the short, sharp shock treatment on any statistical evidence. If he cannot provide that evidence, he should take steps to end that form of treatment.

Mr. Ancram

On the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question, Her Majesty's Inspector of Prisons described the regime as "positive and purposeful." I endorse that. I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he said about the regime.

The announcement made yesterday by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for Scotland was, I believe, logical. If we are to have a system that relies on the short, sharp, shock, plainly the shock element is diminished by someone returning for a second time. That can have a disruptive influence on the good work of the institution. I thank the hon. Gentleman for the welcome that he gave to the decision that we announced.