HC Deb 20 March 1947 vol 435 cc561-2
3. Dr. Barnett Stross

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many young persons aged 16 years or over, committed to approved schools in the past five years, have escaped and, as a result, have been accommodated in other approved schools and have not been committed to Borstal.

Mr. Ede

The great majority of boys and girls are received back into the schools from which they have absconded. Some are transferred to other schools, and the number so transferred is much larger than the number committed to Borstal as unsuited for any school: but it is impossible to give figures, because absconding is only one amongst various symptoms of unsettlement which may lead to a decision that another school will be better suited to the needs of a particular boy or girl.

Dr. Stross

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the children who escaped from approved schools, and were sent to Borstal as a result, numbered more than 1,000 over the past five years—about one-fifth of those who were admitted to approved schools? Is not the inference to be drawn from the right hon. Gentleman's answer that more went back to approved schools than were sent to Borstal? Would he use his admittedly great influence to see that all who did escape from approved schools are given another chance to make good, and not sent to Borstal?

Mr. Ede

Yes, Sir. I am very reluctant to say that any of these youths should be sent to Borstal, but one reaches a time in the consideration of certain cases when there is no other course open in the best interests of the youths concerned.

Mrs. Leah Manning

While we are very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his information that the majority of these boys are sent back to approved schools and not to Borstal, could he tell us that, in those schools where children are constantly absconding, real search goes on to find out what is at the back of the abscondings?

Mr. Ede

Yes, I am at the present time considering very seriously the causes of these abscondings. I am bound to say that I have discovered that one is, that when the Press give notice to abscondings, each school seems to think it ought to do its best to break the record.