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Prisons (Security)

Volume 643: debated on Friday 30 June 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to improve security in Her Majesty's Prisons.

The physical security of existing closed prisons is being improved urgently. The present building programme includes eight secure prisons for men, and one for boys, as well as nine secure remand centres which will relieve congestion in prisons. I am taking special measures to lessen the risk of escape by recidivist prisoners serving sentences of more than four years, many of whom are hardened and resourceful prisoners with a powerful incentive to escape. A number of these prisoners will be transferred in a few days from Wandsworth and Pentonville to a special wing at Parkhurst, and as soon as Hull borstal can be freed for use as a prison, which I expect to be in about a month's time, more of these men will be sent there.I also intend to set aside a wing in Durham prison where a special regime with rigorous discipline will be provided for prisoners who have escaped from closed prisons. As a general precaution in closed local prisons on Saturday mornings (when there are fewer officers on duty) I propose to restrict work to a scale which will allow of normal week- day manning in those shops which remain open. The Criminal Justice Bill, which is awaiting the Royal Assent, provides for an increase in the penalty for helping a prisoner to escape and a new penalty for harbouring an escaped prisoner.