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James Boyle

Volume 978: debated on Monday 4 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the recent expedition by James Boyle, a prisoner in Barlinnie, to go shopping in Glasgow; how long this expedition lasted; whether during this time he visited the flat of his girl friend Dr. S. Trevelyan and where the supervising officer was during this visit; how often this prisoner has been allowed outside prison in the last 12 months; whether he has previously visited Dr. S. Trevelyan' sfiat; how frequently he has been visited by Dr. S. Trevelyan in the last 12 months; whether a prison officer is always present or in a position fully to supervise during these meetings between Dr. Trevelyan and the prisoner; and what special privileges regarding visits and other matters, James Boyle enjoys which are not enjoyed by all other prisoners at Barlinnie.

It is a long standing feature of the Barlinnie special unit regime that one of the inmates, nominated by the special unit community, is allowed weekly escorted visits outside the prison to shop for foodstuffs—the community cooks for itself and inmates are permitted to augment prison rations by purchasing additional foodstuffs from their own funds—and artistic materials. This responsibility has fallen, over the last few years, to a succession of inmates: the latest is James Boyle. Each outside visit lasts for a maximum of five hours and, so far, James Boyle has made three such visits. He has had a total of four other outside visits in the last 12 months—two short duration, within Glasgow, to select stone for his sculpture work and two outside Glasgow arising from his artistic pursuits. During each of these visits an escort has been present at all times.Mr. Boyle's weekly days out are subject to strict controls. No home visits are permitted but a brief escorted call—which lasted for less than two minutes—was authorised on one of them to collect Dr. Trevelyan from her flat to attend a meeting in connection with arrangements for their marriage. That was the only occasion on which Mr. Boyle has visited Dr. Trevelyan's flat.Dr. Trevelyan's visits to Mr. Boyle in the Barlinnie special unit in the last 12 months have avereaged less than two a week. This is in now way incosistent with the visiting arrangements that apply to other inmates in the unit. All visits within the unit are under supervision. James Boyle enjoys no privileges within the unit, in relation to visiting or in relation to any other matter, which are not equally available to other inmates.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what procedures have to be gone through when a prisoner wants to get married while serving his sentence; what procedures have been gone through in the case of James Boyle; on what date James Boyle has been given permission to be married; and whether the chief constable of the region involved has been informed.

A prisoner in Scotland wishing to marry may, depending on his category, seek permission either by applying to the governor or by petitioning the Secretary of State. Life sentence prisoners must petition the Secretary of State, and this procedure was followed in the case of James Boyle, who was on 17 December given permission to marry. The police were informed of the arrangements for the marriage in advance.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his practice concerning the notification to chief constables of the temporary release of prisoners, under escort, for shopping, or other purposes; whether the chief constanble of Strathclyde was informed when James Boyle recently went out shopping in Glasgow; and if he will make a statement.

Chief constables are always informed in advance of the temporary release in their area of a prisoner under escort where it is considered that the prisoner's escape would or might constitute a danger to the public. Chief constables are also given advance information in other cases if it is considered desirable for any reason to do so. The chief constable of Strathclyde police was advised in advance about the general arrangements for James Boyle's recent outside visits.