HC Deb 29 October 1990 vol 178 c751 4.57 pm
Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

I beg to seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, so that we may discuss a specific, important and urgent matter, namely, The death last Friday of Craig Walsh, aged 15, while in custody in Glen Parva young offenders institute near Leicester. The matter is specific. Craig Walsh, aged 15, hanged himself while in custody. He faced a 30-month sentence for aggravated burglary. The matter is important. His death was not an isolated incident—36 young people aged under 18 have killed themselves in custody this year and 160 others have attempted suicide. There is something very wrong with the way in which we handle young offenders when so many like Craig find such bleakness, despair and lack of hope that they take their lives.

The matter is urgent because many other young people are in custody and many of them are at risk. Indeed, with Craig Walsh in Glen Parva was another young Stoke-on-Trent man who has already cut his wrists during his court case.

I know that the Home Secretary recognises the problem—he said that in recent evidence to the Select Committee on Home Affairs—but the matter is so important and so urgent that his concern is not enough. He must act now to ensure that, in this case, there is a full public investigation into the circumstances of this young man's death. Why was he sent to an institution such as Glen Parva? Did the court that sent him there have evidence before it making it clear that Craig was a potential suicide? Why was that young man not transferred to an institution for the treatment of young offenders, such as Glenthorne? Will the Home Secretary also set up a more general investigation into this national growing problem?

However serious the offence, as indeed Craig Walsh's was, locking up such people for 15 years is not the answer to their problems. If the Home Secretary acts now, some slight good might come out of this tragic and unnecessary death. If he does not, more young people will take their lives in custody before Christmas and still more will do so next year making a roll call of death and misery for which we, society, and the House, must, in some small part, take responsibility, and of which we should also be ashamed.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely, The matters arising out of the suicide on Friday of Craig Walsh, aged 16, while in custody in Glen Parva prison". I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that I am sure that his remarks will have been noted by the Minister of State, Home Office, who is on the Front Bench. I must rule, however, that the matter that he has raised does not fall within the requirements of Standing Order No. 20. I therefore cannot submit his application to the House.