HC Deb 30 July 1906 vol 162 cc463-4

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can give the number of convicted prisoners who were found to be epileptics during the years 1904–5; and if he will consider the advisability of steps being taken to ascertain the existence of epilepsy before conviction, and thus prevent such irresponsible sufferers being convicted as criminals.


The numbers are as follows:—1903–4, Epileptics certified insane, four; Epileptics certified unfit for prison discipline, twenty-seven. Total thirty-one. 1904–5, Epileptics certified insane, five; Epileptics certified unlit for prison discipline, sixteen. Total twenty-one. When these are compared with the total number of persons received in prison on conviction it will be seen that the total number of cases in which persons were convicted and afterwards found to be epileptic is very small. As the law stands, it is for the defence to raise at the trial the question of insanity; but it must not be assumed that all epileptics are insane or irresponsible. On the contrary, many persons subject to epileptic fits are in normal conditions perfectly sane and responsible, and it would be neither just nor practicable to class them with the insane.