Prisoners (Preventive Detention)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th May 1954.

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Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough 12:00 am, 13th May 1954

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the methods employed for the provision of work for preventive detention prisoners on their discharge.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

Preventive detention prisoners are released on licence to the supervision of the Central After-Care Association, who arrange for every prisoner to have the opportunity of a personal interview with an officer of the Ministry of Labour prior to his release, so that his registration for suitable employment can be completed in advance. The Association arranges also for the prisoner to be personally advised and assisted on release by one of its Associates, who will usually be a probation officer.

There is also an experimental scheme now in operation whereby a small number of prisoners in the third stage of a sentence of preventive detention are enabled to take up outside employment for some months prior to their discharge.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is some confusion about this matter in the minds of the prisoners and apparently in the minds of certain of the staff as to whether it is the responsibility of the prisoner nearing discharge to try to find a post for himself; or does he leave that to the Association?

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

I was not aware of any such confusion. If the hon. Member will give me particulars, I will, of course, have the matter looked into.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many men have been refused and granted one-third remission of their prison sentences by the Board for Licence on Preventive Detention; how far the Board at Parkhurst is assisted by an advisory committee in London; and who are the members and by whom they are appointed; and what reports the Board receive of the men's records from the police, the welfare officer and the governor.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

A prisoner serving a sentence of preventive detention is not eligible for release on licence when two-thirds of the sentence have been served unless he has been admitted to the third stage of the sentence. Admission to the third stage is decided by an advisory board, which sits at Parkhurst and is not assisted or controlled by any other body in London.

The prison rules provide that the advisory board shall consist of three members of the prison's Board of Visitors approved by the Secretary of State, and such other persons not exceeding four as the Secretary of State may appoint; and that the chairman shall be appointed by the Secretary of State.

The Chairman is Mr. Bertram Reece, a Metropolitan magistrate. The members representing the Board of Visitors are Lieut.-Colonel C. W. Brannon, Mr. G. C. Russell, and Lieut.-Colonel F. C. R. Britten. The other members are Mr. Duncan Fairn, Director of Prison Administration; Mr. J. C. V. Lovatt, a principal probation officer; and Captain R. C. Williams, a retired prison commissioner.

The Board is assisted by the Director of the Men's Section of the Central After-Care Association, and has before it all the information about the prisoner that is available in his record and also special reports by the prison governor and his principal subordinates, the medical officer and the chaplain or prison minister.

The number of prisoners who have been released after serving two-thirds of the sentence is 36; the number who were eligible for admission to the third stage but were not selected for it is 207.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that very full reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that a great deal of the unrest at Parkhurst is due to uncertainty about remission of sentences as men approach their discharge? Will he consult the Governor as to whether there is not some procedure by which this unrest can be removed?

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind and will let me have the particulars, I will see that it is looked into.