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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

To answer my hon. Friend's last question first, I also said in my statement after the August troubles that part of the review I was making concerned ratios of staff to prisoners.

I should also like to reassure my hon. Friend, and therefore, I hope, his constituents, that recruitment for the prison officer service in the past few years has been moving upwards satisfactorily, and I hope that it will go on doing so. As far as I knew, that applies to Gartree as much as anywhere else.

As to my hon. Friend's first question, it is necessary to underline that we were not dealing with a disturbance yesterday; we were dealing with an organised attempt at escape. The disturbance was associated with that, but it was not a disturbance such as we had back in August. It was a determined attempt to escape.

As to the whole question of standard of catering, I am also examining diets and so on in prison as part of the review that I have talked about.

I am also looking again at the whole dispersal policy. My hon. Friend and the House should remember that the Mountbatten recommendation was not to segregate troublemakers but to segregate category A prisoners. They include troublemakers, but, alas, there are plenty of violent troublemakers who are not category A prisoners.