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Weymouth Institute

Volume 148: debated on Tuesday 8 November 1921

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asked the Home Secretary whether he will have a full inquiry conducted by non-official people into the management and conduct of the new Weymouth Institute, alias Portland Prison, where the boy Bucking ham committed suicide and other attempted escapes have occurred?

The Medical Inspector of Prisons and Dr. Pearson, who has special experience of Borstal inmates, visited the Portland Institution last week, and, in consultation with the Visiting Committee, inquired into the arrangements of the institute and the medical care and treatment of the inmates. I hope to have their report shortly. I also hope to visit the institution very shortly with my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary. I will then consider whether any further inquiry is necessary.

In view of these two suicides—I understand since my question was put down there has been another case—and the number of attempts to escape from this institution, would it not be possible to have an independent inquiry?

I have told the hon. and gallant Member I intend to visit the institution, and I will consider whether it is necessary to have an inquiry. As far as the attempted escapes are concerned. I do not attach great importance to them. Our system is to give the boys a great deal of freedom in order to try to develop their sense of honour, and, of course, you will get cases of attempted escapes. As to the cases of suicide, that, of course, is an entirely different matter.

Can you combine the Borstal system, which is intended to give a certain amount of liberty, with Portland Prison, which was established and organised for quite other purposes?

Yes. The girls have been most successful in the Ailesbury Convict Prison for some time.