4 JULY 1952, Page 4


" Not even a prison," says the report of the Broadmoor Enquiry Committee, " can guarantee that no prisoner can ever escape." From this truism, which needed all the same to be repeated, the report goes on to make recommendations which should have the effect of making escapes rarer and more effi- ciently dealt with when they do happen. The committee found that in recent escapes " there must have been carelessness on the part of one or more persons in the Institution on a number of occasions." The remedy for this is not to order prosecutions, but to secure " sufficient increases in salaries to attract suitable applicants for training as student nurses at Broadmoor." At present the staff of the Institution is 19 under establishment, but the deficiency would be even greater if many of the nurses had not stayed on well beyond the retiring age. The committee recommends various other ways in which security precautions might be tightened up, such as the replacement of obsolete locks, a reduction in the number of pass-keys and so on. None of these recommendations seems likely to involve controversy or expense, and they should, therefore, be put into effect with the minimum of delay. If these improvements are made Broadmoor ought to have an even better record for escapes in the future than it has had in the past, and this would do more than anything else to reassure the surrounding populad Lion. But, because it has always been beyond the ingenuity of authority to outwit the ingenuity of prisoners, the committee also has recommendations to make about what should happen when an escape does take place. Again the recommendations are sensible and involve no elaborate or costly schemes: a special siren should be installed to warn when an escape has taken place; special machinery should be worked out for warn- ing schools when an escape takes place in school hours, and the Medical Superintendent of Broadmoor and the Chief Constable of Berkshire should work out a plan of co-operation between the staff of the Institution and the police to go into action when there is an escape. Altogether the committee seems to have performed its task quickly and well.