HC Deb 18 March 1941 vol 370 cc29-30
Sir E. Cadogan

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the recent increase in juvenile delinquency and the consequent lack of accommodation in remand homes and approved schools, what steps he proposes to take to evolve some means of meeting the urgent needs of delinquent children and young persons?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)

The Home Secretary is well aware of the increase in the number of children and young persons brought before the juvenile courts. This abnormal increase, which may be attributed to a variety of causes connected directly or indirectly with war conditions, has temporarily strained the resources usually available to juvenile courts for the treatment of young offenders through the probation service, remand homes and approved schools. While the responsibility for the provision of these services rests primarily with the local authorities, the Home Office has done all in its power to stimulate and assist the local authorities, and in the case of approved schools has been successful in obtaining the co-operation of voluntary bodies in providing much additional accommodation, in spite of the difficulties which exist at the present moment in securing suitable premises. It is hoped that as a result of these measures the pressure on remand homes and approved schools will soon be relieved. The Home Secretary is also considering what further measures can be taken to divert into useful channels the misplaced energies of the comparatively small proportion of the youthful community who arc guilty of offences.

Sir E. Cadogan

Will my hon. Friend take into consideration the suggestion, made by certain local authorities, that something should be done within the scope of the national system of education?

Mr. Peake

Yes, Sir; we are certainly prepared to take that suggestion into consideration. But the real difficulty at present is the problem of providing suitable accommodation.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

Is the incidence among those of school age now, or those below 12, or those between 14 and 18?

Mr. Peake

I am afraid I have no analysis of the figures.

Mr. Thorne

Does the Minister recognise the difficulty that local authorities have in getting accommodation for the juveniles? Would it be possible for a number of local authorities to come together, with a view to getting one large home for these unfortunate young people?

Mr. Peake

Yes, Sir; we will take that suggestion into consideration. We are calling a conference very shortly, to consider this problem in all its aspects.

Captain Sir Derrick Gunston

Is my hon. Friend aware that approved schools are in a great difficulty, owing to lack of craftsmen for teaching these boys? Is it possible to use these boys on the land in manual labour?

Mr. Peake

We will consider that.

Mr. Benson

Would the Minister consider an investigation to see how many of the younger children in approved schools could be boarded out if a policy of boarding out were widely adopted?

Mr. Peake

As I have said, we are calling a conference on this question; and we will take into account all the suggestions which have been made.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the hon. Gentleman make an inquiry and analysis into the incidence of the different age groups, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) has referred?

Mr. Peake

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Sorensen

Will the Minister see that none of the juveniles who are put on remand is sent to prison?

Mr. Peake

We will certainly do our best to avoid that happening.