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Gartree Prison (Attempted Escape)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th November 1972.

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Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham 12:00 am, 27th November 1972

The situation at Gartree is now under control. Thirteen prisoners tried to escape yesterday afternoon. Eight were stopped before they got to the perimeter. Five succeeded in breaking through the perimeter fences but were quickly caught. At about the same time as the attempted escape three fires were started in the prison; these were put out by the fire service. Meanwhile prisoners in one wing became violent and disorderly; this spread later in the evening to a second wing. Cells and furniture in both wings were damaged and more fires were started. One wing remained barricaded by the inmates until this morning with some prisoners on the roof. All wings are now under control with the prisoners locked in cells. Twelve staff and five prisoners were injured; two staff and two prisoners received treatment in Leicester Royal Infirmary but have now been discharged from hospital.

This was a most serious incident and the circumstances are being fully investigated by the regional director. I am glad to say, however, that the emergency arrangements, including those involving co-operation with the police, worked effectively and that, as a result, none of these men made good his escape.

I should like to pay tribute to the governor and his staff for the way in which they dealt with a determined escape attempt and subsequently contained a difficult situation; and to acknowledge the speedy and valuable help given them by the police, the fire service and by other prisons in the area which sent in relief staff.