HC Deb 07 March 1968 vol 760 cc129-32W
Mr. John Lee

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has yet received the report of the inquiry regarding Reading Borstal; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Callaghan

I have now received the report of the inquiry by members of the Board of Visitors and I am grateful for the thorough and competent way in which the members investigated these serious allegations and the valuable report they have submitted. The inquiry was exacting and made great demands on their time.

The Board of Inquiry unanimously concluded that there was substance in the allegations of irregular behaviour by certain officers and that in particular there had been slapping and bullying. They experienced considerable difficulty in establishing truth where unreliable witnesses were involved; but, reaching their findings on their judgment of the weight and similarity of evidence, they were satisfied that there had been a pattern of irregular behaviour, and considered that this had grown up over several years

certificates of naturalisation have been granted as follows:

among some officers who believed that discipline should be imposed by force rather than by personality and example. The Board were satisfied that the malpractices ceased some time ago. The Board were satisfied that the previous Governors who were in charge during the relevant time, together with the large majority of the staff, were unaware of these malpractices.

The Board recommended that Reading should cease to combine the functions of a recall centre and a corrective centre. They emphasised that many of the officers at present employed in the establishment were of a high standard and that Reading had made a significant and constructive contribution to the reformative system, both in the corrective and recall fields. They made also a number of detailed suggestions for improving the administrative arrangements at the borstal, and recommendations about the general considerations which should govern the selection and deployment of staff.

I accept the findings of the Board of Inquiry.

I have given instructions that disciplinary action is to be taken against one officer and that the case of another should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider the institution of criminal proceedings. Both officers have been suspended from duty.

I shall implement in the following way the recommendation that a corrective centre and a recall centre should not be combined in one establishment. I have decided not to maintain a separate corrective centre within the borstal system; I am advised that recalcitrant offenders can be adequately dealt with in other ways. Later this year, the recall centre at Reading and that at Portsmouth will be replaced by a single recall centre elsewhere, when additional borstal accommodation comes into use, and these two establishments will revert to prison use. The recommendations by the Board of Inquiry about Reading Borstal Will be implemented to the extent that they are compatible with the closing of the corrective centre and the transfer later this year of the recall centre.

Lastly, while I accept the Board's conclusions about the Governors, I am naturally concerned that there should be

1967 1966 1965 1964 1963 1962
A. Place where injury occurred
(i) Family or Private Party 1,065 1,065 973 969 1,144 1,200
(ii) Public of semi-public Party in Parks or Open Space 304 428 411 340 372 531
(iii) Casual Incident in Street 577 415 463 624 717 816
(iv) Other Place. 130 157 149 313 89 161
(v) Unknown 138 237 343 156 139 124
B. Type of Firework Involved
(i) Banger 608 588 618 723 885 1,236
(ii) Rocket 302 335 357 335 280 266
(iii) Jumping Cracker 146 115 124 166 237 270
(iv) Display Firework e.g. Roman Candle 541 509 407 373 447 483
(v) Other than above (Including Home-made Fireworks) 237 332 390 230 181 206
(vi) Unknown 380 423 443 393 431 371
C. Age Group of Persons Injured
(i) Over 21 426 493 457 436 398 418
(ii) 16–20 151 161 197 174 222 264
(iii) 13–15 367 359 413 389 509 664
(iv) Under 13 1,270 1,289 1,272 1,221 1,332 1,486
D. Severity of Injury
(i) Died 0 0 0 2 0 0
(ii) Severe Injury 353 551 376 577 719 988
(iii) Minor Injury 1,827 1,721 1,884 1,609 1,729 1,828
(iv) Unknown 34 30 79 32 13 16

have been irregular behaviour of the kind disclosed by the Board's investigation, and although I am satisfied that much has been done to ensure that the prison service is properly aware of its responsibilities for the elimination of irregular behaviour of all kinds, I am considering whether further steps are needed to assist governors to maintain a vigilant watch against any such behaviour.