Prisoners (Escapes)

Oral Answers to Questions — Cyprus – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd July 1958.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell 12:00 am, 22nd July 1958

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the procedure in Cyprus for securing the safe custody of prisoners convicted of terrorist and other crimes who are transferred to mental and other hospitals for treatment.

Photo of Mr John Profumo Mr John Profumo , Stratford-on-Avon

There is a special ward at the Nicosia General Hospital for prisoners and detainees. The prison staff and the police are responsible for security inside the hospital: there is a United Kingdom warder permanently on duty outside the ward. There is also a military guard at the hospital. Up to the present there have been no special security arrangements at the Mental Hospital.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Does not my hon. Friend think that there should be special security precautions, since a number of dangerous prisoners have escaped when they have been transferred to hospital?

Photo of Mr John Profumo Mr John Profumo , Stratford-on-Avon

I am sure my hon. Friend will realise that the security forces find the provision of a static guard a severe strain on their resources. The question of the provision of a guard at the Mental Hospital will have to be considered.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies who were the medical authorities on whose certificate Antonis Procopiou Salamento, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, was transferred to the Nicosia Mental Hospital in Cyprus, from which he escaped on 1st June, 1958.

Photo of Mr John Profumo Mr John Profumo , Stratford-on-Avon

The medical authorities concerned were the prison medical officer and the Government mental specialist.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what disciplinary or other measures were taken in consequence of the escape of Polycarpos Georgadhis from the Central Prison, Nicosia, in Cyprus, on 1st May, 1958, being his fifth escape from custody.

Photo of Mr John Profumo Mr John Profumo , Stratford-on-Avon

No disciplinary action has yet been taken as the escape is still under investigation and so far there is no evidence that any member of the prison staff was implicated. The hon. Member appears to be giving the prisoner credit for two more escapes that he has actually made.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Even so, is it not very disturbing that there should be these repeated escapes of dangerous prisoners? Will my hon. Friend and his right hon. Friend consider suggesting to the Cyprus Government that if there are escapes of this kind, and repeated escapes, the prisoner should be transferred to safe custody in the United Kingdom?

Photo of Mr John Profumo Mr John Profumo , Stratford-on-Avon

As I told my hon. Friend, this matter is under consideration I think we had better await a report.