Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Gartree Prison (Attempted Escape)

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I thank the hon. Lady for her remarks about the work done last night by the prison governor and his staff and by the police and fire services. Many of the first group of questions can be answered only when I have the regional director's report. I do not know at the moment about any evidence regarding outside organisation or precisely what rôle Mr. Sewell played in organising the attempt, if any. I am informed, however, although this will be checked of course, that the electronic warning system was not put out of action by the fires.

I cannot say at this stage whether strict discipline since August had an effect. I gave no orders that there should be an unusually strict discipline. In August and September I told the governors that they could count on the full support of myself and the Home Office if they felt it necessary to take firm measures to deal with these things. But I have no evidence of any kind to suggest that there was any connection between some change in the regime since August and yesterday's event.

As for segregating trouble makers, I said in a statement following the August troubles that I certainly intended to consider how the techniques and facilities for containing violent and dangerous men could be improved. That review is continuing inside my Department. I cannot give an exact terminal date for it but I hope to reach conclusions early next year—by that I mean early rather than at the end of next year. I shall, of course, wish to make a statement as soon as I can and I think that the question of a debate could be left more beneficially until that time.