HC Deb 01 December 1955 vol 546 cc2501-2
38. Mr. Younger

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance has been given to courts on the type of youth who may appropriately be sent to detention centres under Section 18 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948.

Major Lloyd-George

When the detention centres at Kidlington and Goudhurst were opened circulars were sent to the courts to which the centres were made available explaining briefly the nature of the proposed regime at the centre, the primary purpose of which was to provide short, sharp punishment designed to bring home to the offender the gravity of his situation, and setting out some general considerations, such as the physical fitness of the offender and the question whether he had had previous institutional training, which the courts might wish to bear in mind in considering whether committal to the centre would be appropriate in a particular case.

Mr. Younger

Is the Home Secretary satisfied that, on the whole, the type of cases coming to these centres are cases which are quite suitable to be dealt with? As he knows, the case of conscientious objectors has been mentioned, and apparently unsuitable people are being sent to these centres. Would he consider sending out further guidance, or at any rate information, to the courts of this subject?

Major Lloyd-George

Whilst I am prepared to consider anything of that kind, I think that the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that it would not be proper to me to advise courts how to deal with a convicted person. The right hon. Gentleman referred to conscientious objectors, for example. I can only point out that the purpose of this particular kind of detention centre was to provide an alternative to imprisonment. That is all magistrates have to consider, whether it is better to send a man to a detention centre or to prison.

Mr. Snow

Bearing in mind the severe physical training and treatment regimes to which detained persons are subjected at these centres, is the Home Secretary satisfied that before they are so committed their physical state is properly considered?

Major Lloyd-George

Yes, I am certain of that, because as soon as they are received they get their medical examination and, if they are found to be unfitted for the ordinary physical routine, they are put on to something else.