HC Deb 26 July 1951 vol 491 cc627-8
35. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to a recent case, details of which have been sent to him, in which a sentence of 10 years' imprisonment was imposed on charges of improper assault: and what curative medical treatment is provided in this and similar cases during the period of sentence.

Mr. Ede

The prisoner has already been examined to see whether treatment would be appropriate, but further examination will be necessary before a decision can be reached. All such prisoners are examined by prison medical officers, who are experienced in psychiatry, and whenever the prisoner is willing to undergo treatment and is likely to profit by it, he receives it.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

In view of the very alarming increase in the number of these cases in recent years, will my right hon. Friend devote his attention to the report prepared by the British Medical Association and the Magistrates' Association, which shows that punishment without treatment was a greater danger to the community than to the offenders themselves?

Mr. Ede

I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend should exaggerate the increase in this class of offence in recent years. Co-operation between the psychiatrists or other persons employed and the person concerned is necessary if success is to be achieved, and not all persons provide this co-operation.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are some people who commit offences like indecent exposure who are not actually certifiable but are clearly epileptic and not responsible for their actions; and that because there is a gap in the arrangements these persons are in and out of prison and nothing is done to stop it?

Mr. Ede

Wherever it is possible to help a person by treatment, that treatment is afforded him.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that, in the event of the treatment not being successful, the public will be protected against these people on their release from prison?

Mr. Ede

When a person is released from prison, I cannot then be responsible for him, but of course, in some cases, they are recommended to enter institutions.

Mr. Maudling

Will the right hon. Gentleman do something about the Section of the Criminal Justice Act which, in certain cases, compels magistrates to send offenders to prison when they would rather send them for treatment?

Mr. Ede

I do not think that that is an accurate statement.