HC Deb 25 March 1960 vol 620 cc82-3W
Mr. W. Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has yet received the report of the Visiting Committee of Barlinnie Prison on the general situation in the prison as disclosed by the incidents which occurred in January; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclay

The Visiting Committee met on 25th February: 23 members representing 18 local authorities were present. The Committee having reported to me that they have reviewed the administration of the prison since June last in the light of reports by individual members of the Committee on their visits of inspection and of reports by the Disciplinary Sub-Commitee on prisoners' cases recently heard by them, and after discussion with the Governor, the Chaplain, the Roman Catholic Visiting Clergyman, the Medical Officer and the Welfare Office. The Visiting Committee are satisfied that up to the end of last year the state of discipline in the Prison was entirely satisfactory.

As the House is aware, there was interference at the New Year with over 150 cell locks by the insertion of shirt buttons. The Visiting Committee have informed me that in their view this was a New Year prank; but as a result many prisoners had to be transferred for the time being to other cells, and this caused much overcrowding, which gave rise to demonstrations and ill-temper by a few prisoners.

In the Committee's opinion the further incidents of unruliness and damage to property which took place from the 25th to the 27th January were due in some degree to greatly exaggerated reports of the New Year incidents in the Press and were inspired by a very small minority of prisoners.

The Committee are satisfied that, although during both these short periods certain privileges had to be curtailed as a precautionary measure, the prison remained under full control throughout and they consider that the Governor and staff carried out their duties with commendable restraint and humanity.

The Visiting Committee have also expressed concern about over-crowding in the prison, especially as regards the large number of untried prisoners.

As I stated in reply to the debate on 17th February, I hope that the position will be improved when a hall at Peterhead Prison, which is being reconditioned, is brought into use towards the end of this year. My Department is also preparing plans for a new institution near Glasgow consisting of a remand centre for young men under 21 and a prison for adult untried prisoners. I hope that the work of erection will begin next year.

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