HC Deb 14 December 1950 vol 482 cc215-6W
Mr. Granville

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he proposes to take with regard to the large number of escapes now being made from Hollesley Bay Colony, in view of the fact that the local residents, many of whom are elderly people, are at present living in a state of fear and anxiety, and are afraid to go out alone at night.

Mr. Ede

The basic principle of the Borstal system, the value of which has been amply shown, is by positive training to develop the power of self-discipline; and this requires a measure of trust and confidence that is not compatible with conditions of absolute security. It must therefore be expected that escapes from Borstal institutions will be considerably more frequent than from prisons, but the total number of such escapes and their high incidence at certain institutions, including Hollesley Bay Colony, has for some time given rise to serious concern, and I am fully sensible of the effect which such abscondings must have on the goodwill of those who live in the neighbourhood of these institutions.

The Prison Commissioners try to reduce this nuisance as much as possible by careful allocation in the first place; the more unstable youths and those with the worst records are not sent to the more open institutions such as Hollesley Bay. Allocation cannot, however, be an exact science and it is impossible to be certain that any particular inmate will not abscond. Each case of absconding is dealt with on its merits, and if the circumstances show that the inmate is not likely to profit by open conditions, he is transferred to an establishment of greater security.

The Prison Commissioners discussed the problem with representatives of local interests at Hollesley Bay earlier this year, and the points raised by these representatives have been fully explored. The number of escapes from Hollesley Bay in the last few months shows a substantial reduction as compared with the corresponding period last year. I hope this improvement will be maintained, but the situation will continue to be closely watched.