asked the Home Secretary what is the daily average number of men and women prisoners, respectively, who, during the last 12 months for which statistics are conveniently available, have been employed on farms or in timber-yards or with other outside employers; what proportion of officers to prisoners is used for guarding prisoners so employed; in what prisons or institutions such prisoners were resident; whether any such prisoners and, if so, how many have absconded; and whether he will take active steps to develop this successful experiment as one means of dealing with staff shortage?
I regret that statistics in the form asked for are not available and in view of the seasonal variations in outside work they would present a misleading picture. On a recent date 914 prisoners and Borstal inmates were so employed. Of these, 197 Borstal inmates working at neighbouring farms were not supervised by Borstal officers. The remaining 717, including three parties of Borstal inmates, worked in supervised parties containing approximately 20 prisoners to each officer. Prisoners have been so employed at 21 prisons and six Borstal institutions, representing three-quarters of the establishments for male prisoners. It has not been possible to arrange for women prisoners to be so employed. Ten prisoners have escaped while working in these parties; figures are not immediately available of the number of Borstal inmates who have absconded while employed on outside work. The experiment has been most successful and every effort is being made to extend it in the interests of the prisoners. It has not been found in practice to be of any material assistance in dealing with the problem of the shortage of prison staffs.