HC Deb 06 May 1914 vol 62 cc271-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in the case of juvenile female adults, no serious effort is being made in the direction of separation by classification of offences, and that a young woman charged with or guilty of a first and relatively venial offence is not separated from young women already old in crime; and whether he will take steps to enforce classification by the nature of offences, with a view to the reclamation of the young woman who may be reclaimed?


Very full provision is made already in the Prison Act and the prison rules for the classification of all convicted prisoners, chiefly with the object of separating young persons and first offenders from old and hardened criminals. The case of every female prisoner between sixteen and twenty-five received in prison is specially considered, and the benefit of treatment under the Modified Borstal System is given to all except those who show themselves incapable of profiting by it, and those who exercise an evil influence on other young prisoners.


asked the right hon. Gentleman whether young girls of fourteen years of age and less are sent on remand for varying periods, extending in some cases to many weeks, to the Wards of the remand hospital in Holloway; whether after conviction young girls re main in Holloway for considerable periods before removal; whether young girls accused of a first offence and relatively trifling offences are in these circumstances brought into association with degraded and habitual female criminals; and whether he will take steps to prevent the continuance of so dangerous and undesirable state of things?


The Children Act, 1908, absolutely prohibits the committal to prison of children under fourteen, and it prohibits the committal of young persons between fourteen and sixteen unless the Court certifies that the young person is of so unruly a character that she cannot be detained in a place of detention for children or of so depraved a character that she is not a fit person to be so detained. Since that Act passed no girls of fourteen or less have been received in Holloway, and the number under sixteen is extremely small; last year there were only two.


asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the Borstal system or any corresponding system is in operation for girls; whether the system can be extended so as to comprise girls; and whether he will initiate legislation to this end?


The Borstal system is in operation for females between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one. I would refer the hon. Member to the Annual Reports of the Prison Commissioners, in which he will find much information on the subject. I am proposing legislation which will extend further the operation of the Borstal system for males and females alike.


asked the right hon. Gentleman whether girl convicts are largely sent to Aylesbury Prison; whether capital punishment is carried out at that prison; whether many inveterate criminals are sent to that prison; and whether he will take steps to prevent the environment and association involved upon young girls by being sent to such a prison from affecting them injuriously by devoting some prison to the reception of young female prisoners deemed capable of reclamation?


All females sentenced to penal servitude are sent to the Aylesbury Convict Prison, but at present there is only one convict who is under the age of twenty-two. Capital punishment is not carried out at that prison. The Borstal institution at Aylesbury for females convicted between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one and sentenced to a term of Borstal detention under the Prevention of Crimes Act, 1908, is entirely separate from the convict prison.