HC Deb 19 July 1923 vol 166 cc2476-9
31 and 32. Captain ARTHUR EVANS

asked the Home Secretary (1) what is the machinery for keeping stipendiary Magistrates informed of the subsequent progress of adults put upon probation, with special reference to cases before the London Police Courts;

(2) who inspects the records of the adult probation officers for London Police Courts, and at what intervals?


The rules made by the Secretary of State under Section 7 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907, require the Probation Officer to report to the Court at such intervals and in such a manner as the Court may direct. In London the Police Court Magistrates are in close touch with the Probation Officers attached to their Courts and take a very keen interest in the progress of their cases. I understand that the records are constantly produced for the inspection of the Magistrates.


asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that during the year 1921 for every two indictable offenders put on probation three were sent to prison, whereas for every two non-indictable offenders put on probation 14 were sent to prison; and, in view of these facts, whether he will give a grant towards the payment of the salaries of probation officers, thus ensuring an efficient system and the proper use of it by the magistrates?


The figures quoted by the Noble Lord appear to be accurate as regards offences tried summarily, but they do not include indictable offences tried on indictment. As regards the latter part of the question, I would refer to the answer given yesterday to the hon. Member for Oxford.

35. Lieut.-Colonel ENGLAND

asked the Home Secretary if he will supply a list of the number of cases of adults with respect to whom probation orders were made in each of the London Police Courts for the past year?


The information with regard to adults is only available for the Metropolitan Police District as a whole and was given on the 31st of May last in answer to a question by the hon. Member for Central Southwark, but I can give the hon. and gallant Member separate figures showing the number of persons over 16 who were under probation orders on the 31st December, 1922, in respect of each of the Metropolitan Police Courts. This table will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the Table:

Numbers of Persons aged over 16 on Probation on 31st December, 1922, from the Metropolitan Police Courts.
Courts. Males over 16. Females over 16. Total.
Bow Street 70 45 115
Clerkenwell 86 34 120
Greenwich 90 37 127
Lambeth 58 46 104
Marlborough Street 35 44 79
Marylebone 45 48 93
North London 75 48 123
Old Street 157 62 219
South Western 75 48 123
Thames 59 28 87
Tower Bridge 70 63 133
West London 36 32 68
Westminster 69 51 120
Woolwich 43 13 56
Total 968 599 1,567

36. Lieut.-Colonel ENGLAND

asked the Home Secretary the maximum number of cases which one probation officer for adults in the London Police Courts is allowed to take?


No maximum number is fixed. The Departmental Committee who reported last year recommended that, instead of attempting to lay down any standard based on the number of cases which is bound to be a variable one, magistrates shall pay close attention to the amount of work given to the probation officers attached to their Court and satisfy themselves that the officers are able to give sufficient time and attention to each case and see that the conditions of the probation order are suitable and are being fulfilled. This principle is being followed in London.


asked the Home Secretary what body is responsible for appointing adult probation officers attached to the London Police Courts?


The Secretary of State is responsible for the appointment of all probation officers in London. In accordance with the recommendation of the Departmental Committee a small Committee, which includes representatives of the Home Office and the police court magistrates, has been appointed to advise him in the selection of probation officers and as to other matters connected with the administration of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907, in London.


asked the Home Secretary what religious and educational tests, if any, are attached to the appointment of adult probation officers for the London Police Courts?


No tests are prescribed by the Home Office, but most of the probation officers in London belong to the Police Court Mission and are members of the Church of England. Roman Catholic and Jewish probation officers have also been appointed to supervise probationers belonging to those faiths. It has not been considered desirable hitherto to fix any educational standard, but attention is being given to education qualifications as well as qualities of personality and character.


asked the Home Secretary what is the highest and lowest percentage of probation orders made by magistrates in the counties of England and Wales in comparison with imprisonment sentences; and whether, in view of the different views taken by magistrates on probation orders, he can take steps to draw the attention of all magistrates to the advantages of a greater use of the probation system?


The percentages asked for by the hon. Member have not been worked out officially, and I do not think that any reliable conclusion as to the use of probation can be drawn from a limited comparison of this kind. In reply to the latter part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday to the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Thornton).


Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider the only possible way of getting a more efficient system of probation is for the Government to give a grant towards the maintenance of proper probation institutions?


I have no doubt, if the Government were prepared to spend money in this way, that it might be usefully spent. But, as my Noble Friend knows, it is not very easy to go in for additional expenditure at the present moment. I think a great deal can be done to encourage the use of probation sentences, and that the Home Office certainly will do.


asked the Home Secretary the number of indictable and non-indictable offenders, for the years 1921 and 1922, who were sentenced to imprisonment, and the numbers who were put on probation; and whether, in view of the great cost to the country of short terms of imprisonment, he can take steps to ensure a more extended use of the probation system?


In 1921, of persons dealt with for indictable offences, either summarily or upon indictment, 15,174 were sentenced to imprisonment and 7,982 were placed on probation. For non-indictable offences, 15,578 were sentenced to imprisonment and 2,272 were placed on probation. The figures for 1922 are not yet available. As stated yesterday in reply to a question put by the hon. Member for Tavistock, the Home Office is taking every step in its power to encourage a still wider use of the probation system.