HC Deb 30 May 1906 vol 158 cc389-90
MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is in a position to give the House any detailed information on the separate treatment of children's cases in courts of summary jurisdiction.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) Yes. I have now received information from the Metropolitan police courts, the county boroughs, and some of the more populous petty sessional divisions. The Metropolitan police magistrates are unanimous in the opinion that the working of the Home Office regulations for keeping children's cases separate from others is quite satisfactory. From the information before me I find that the regulations suggested by the Home Office or others similar to them are in force in thirteen of the county boroughs, namely: Blackburn, Cardiff, Devonport, Hull, Liverpool, Newport, Norwich, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading, South Shields, Tynemouth, and West Ham. In sixteen other county boroughs charges against children are heard before others, and it appears that care is taken to keep children apart. The names of these are: Birkenhead, Bournemouth, Bristol, Burton-on-Trent, Gloucester, Grimsby, Leeds, Newcastle, Northampton, Oldham, Plymouth, Rochdale, St. Helen's, Salford, Sheffield, and West Bromwich; in nine county boroughs children's cases are taken at the end of other business, and the children are kept in a separate room till their cases are reached; the names are: Dudley, Hanley, Leicester, Oxford, Stockton, Swansea, Wigan, Worcester, Yarmouth; in eleven county boroughs separate courts are at present or soon will be in use for children's cases; the names are: Bath, Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Bury, Canterbury, Halifax. Hull, Lincoln, Manchester, Walsall, while at Burnley it is sometimes found possible to form a second court. In other county boroughs it appears that precautions are already taken or that arrangements will shortly be completed for securing the separation of children's cases. At Barrow-in-Furness, for instance, plans for new courts, which would include a separate children's court, have been drawn up, but cannot be carried out at present in view of the other expenditure to which the borough is committed. In the meantime children's cases are taken either at the beginning or at the end of the other business, and children are kept out of court except when their cases are being heard. The replies to inquiries made in certain petty sessional divisions show that the regulations suggested by the Home Office are being carried out entirely or in effect. At Tottenham there is a second court which is used for children's cases.