HC Deb 24 February 1955 vol 537 cc1443-4
41. Mr. Collins

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how far his statistics show that the system of preventive detention is acting as a deterrent to crime or in the rehabilitation of criminals.

Major Lloyd-George

The effect of a particular type of sentence can be judged statistically only by the number of re-convictions. By 31st December, 1954, 211 men and 10 women had been released from sentences of preventive detention imposed under the Criminal Justice Act, 1948: of these, 97 men and one woman had been reconvicted of further offences by that date. This experience is too limited for any considered assessment to be based upon it.

Mr. Collins

I appreciate the last part of that answer, but is the Home Secretary aware that sentences of 10 years' preventive detention have been passed on old offenders for crimes which consisted of the theft of a few shillings, and that there can be no possibility of rehabilitation in such sentences? Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman consider making some differentiation, as regards both sentence and treatment, between these miserable wretches and the hardened criminals who commit crimes of violence?

Major Lloyd-George

The question of sentence is, of course, outside my jurisdiction altogether. As far as preventive detention is concerned, it must be remembered, when considering the number of those who go back to prison, that these are to a large extent habitual criminals, that the fact that about 1,200 habitual criminals are kept out of harm's way is a good thing and that 40 per cent. of them so far have not gone back at all.

Mr. Yates

Will the Home Secretary investigate the large number of men serving sentences of preventive detention in Parkhurst, on the Isle of Wight, when I think he will find that the bitterness that these long-term preventive detention sentences create, with no hope whatever of there being full remission of sentence, cannot possibly help the rehabilitation of these men?

Major Lloyd-George

That matter has, of course, as the hon. Member knows, always been kept under close review, and I shall continue to keep it under close review.