§ 36. Major HILLS
asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the case of Hilda Mills, aged 16, a shop assistant at Balham, bearing a good character, 2½ years in one situation, charged at the South Western Police Court on 2nd February with theft and sentenced to three months' imprisonment, which she is now serving in Holloway, and to the case of Edith Winifred Kennett, aged 15, no previous offence, good school character, charged with stealing, also at the South Western Police Court, placed in a remand home and then removed to Holloway to await removal to an industrial school on the charge of assisting another girl to escape, and whether, in view of the undesirability of young girls of previously good character being sent to prison, even on remand, he will explain why in each of these cases probation was not resorted to.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I find on inquiry that in the first case mentioned the magistrate remanded Hilda Mills and another girl charged with her on bail for three months, and that at the end of this period he felt able to discharge the other defendant, but on the evidence before him he considered that in the case of Hilda Mills a sharp sentence was necessary. I am not prepared to say he was mistaken in this view of the case.
I have also made inquiry as to the case of Edith Winifred Kennett, and I find that the girl's school record was bad, and when she was charged the mother declined to bail her and she was sent to a remand home. In the remand home she refused to obey the rules and incited other girls to rebellion. When she again came before the Court the mother declined to have her home again, and the magistrate decided in her own interest to send her to a reformatory. The mother has now expressed her willingness to have the girl home, and the question of placing her on probation is being considered.
§ Major HILLS
Does my right hon. Friend think it satisfactory to send children aged 15 and 16 to Holloway prison?
§ Mr. SHORTT
There is a great deal that is unsatisfactory about our criminal law. We must only do the best we can to remedy it.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
When do you propose to take any steps to remedy the unsatisfactory state of the criminal law? Are you doing anything at present?