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Releases And Transfers

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 8 April 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department What arrangements are made for consideration of a request by an inmate of one of Her Majesty's prisons for a transfer to another prison.

A prisoner may ask for a transfer to another prison by applying to a visiting Prison Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner or by a petition to the Secretary of State. In present conditions of overcrowding of prisons and of heavy pressure of escort duty, transfer is not granted, save in most exceptional circumstances, for private reasons such as making it easier for relatives to visit. Moreover, many prisoners are in the only prison that is appropriate to their sentence and record.

71 and 72.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) to what extent his regulations allow the relatives and friends of criminals serving the maximum prison sentences for the most serious crimes to claim the release or transfer of these prisoners to hospitals or sanatoria outside the control of the Prison Commissioners on these prisoners attaining an old age;(2) how many sentenced criminals, serving in prison for the more serious crimes involving long or life sentences, have been released from prison since 1945, on an application from their relatives and friends that the prisoners are aged and infirm; and how many have been transferred to hospitals and sana- toria outside the control of the Prison Commissioners, for the same reasons;(3) what is the normal practice and custom concerning the release, transfer from prison to home or hospital, of convicted criminals who are serving the maximum of sentence for the most serious of crimes, on these prisoners becoming aged, infirm or in need of medical attention, for some defined medical disability.

Section 22 (2) of the Prison Act, 1952, empowers me, if I am satisfied that a prisoner requires medical or surgical treatment, to direct him to be taken to an outside hospital or other suitable place. This power is frequently used, but would not ordinarily be invoked in the case of a senile prisoner suffering from no specific disease. It is always open to the relatives or friends of any prisoner to approach me with a view to the remainder of his sentence being remitted by the exercise of the Prerogative of Mercy on the ground of hopeless infirmity or incurable disease, but the decision depends on all the circumstances of the case and not solely on medical considerations. Fifty-four prisoners in England and Wales were released on such grounds during the years 1947 to 1953; figures for 1945 and 1946 are not available.