Top Security Prisoners

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th November 1970.

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Photo of Mr Tom Cox Mr Tom Cox , Wandsworth Central 12:00 am, 5th November 1970

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was to be his Department's future policy regarding the imprisonment of persons rated as top security prisoners.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

They will be dispersed among selected prisons with the necessary degree of security.

Photo of Mr Tom Cox Mr Tom Cox , Wandsworth Central

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. During the period before that dispersal takes place, in view of the disturbances that have occurred in top security prison wings, can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that there will be no cut in financial expenditure in view of the need to improve both the conditions and the security of such prisons?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

There is no suggestion of any cut in expenditure provision for the prison service.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Nottingham South

In the case of the four security wings that remain, will my right hon. Friend consider changing the policy of his predecessor and allowing representatives of national newspapers to see the conditions in those wings, so that they can inform the public of them?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I am prepared, without commitment, to consider that.

Mr. W. T. Williams:

Does the Home Secretary not consider that the time has come to institute some kind of inquiry, however informal, into the effects, both physical and mental, upon prisoners detained in these top security wings and upon the staff, upon whom there is a good deal of pressure in maintaining these wings? Can he tell us what effect the presence of security wings of this kind has upon other prisoners in the same prison?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

That is the sort of consideration that we have in mind in the policy of dispersal. I agree that there are serious questions of the effect upon prisoners. That is why we are pursuing this policy as rapidly as we can. The actual availability of premises is the limiting factor.

Photo of Mr Mark Woodnutt Mr Mark Woodnutt , Isle of Wight

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that a greater problem is the detention of violent prisoners, who are not necessarily top security people? Will he reconsider the question of dispersing them and considering, instead, putting them all in a special purpose-built prison? There is no doubt that dispersed in individual prisons they are like a bad apple in a barrel.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I know my hon. Friend's interest and concern in this matter, but this decision was taken after careful study by the Advisory Council on the Penal System, and I think that it is the right one.