§ Sir H. Studholme
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the recent disturbances in Dartmoor Prison.
§ Mr. Brooke
At about 3 p.m. on 11th December a disturbance broke out in the mailbag shop at Dartmoor prison. There were 88 prisoners in the shop in two separate sections, one of 60, the other of 28 prisoners. The smaller section dissociated itself completely from the disturbance, and among the larger section only about half took any active part. The incident was sparked off by the attempt to remove from the shop a prisoner who had broken a window. During the morning, there had been signs of discontent with the nature of the work in the shop; this was the sewing of coal sacks.
At the time, the shop was manned by four prison officers and four instructors, but extra help was immediately available from the emergency reserve. The situation was under control within half an hour. The disorder did not spread to any other part of the prison, and normal association and education classes took place the same evening without incident.
I regret that 11 officers received injuries during the disturbance. Seven of them had to go off duty as a result; the other four received slight injuries which did not necessitate their being off duty. Two of the seven received severe head injuries. One was at first thought to have sustained a fractured skull, but I am glad to say that later reports do not confirm this.114W
The prison is now on a normal routine except for those who have been identified as having taken part in the disturbance. The Governor's investigation is proceeding.
The prison officers called upon to deal with this disturbance behaved with courage and restraint. The preliminary report I have received records that they restored order without drawing their staves, and that no prisoner was injured.