§ 3.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Brown (Tottenham)
In opening this debate I desire to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Mr. Speaker for affording us this opportunity of discussing a subject of such importance. I am mindful of the fact that just a year ago, on 29th July, 1960, he accorded me the privilege of opening a debate also connected with the subject of juvenile delinquency, being on that occasion the question of provision of secure accommodation for young offenders.
Today I am happy to say that I am able to open the debate on a far more hopeful tone than was the case a year ago. I will state my reasons for this later. Juvenile delinquency constitutes a problem of the highest social importance. Any pronounced increase in its incidence must constitute a matter of the greatest concern not only to ourselves as legislators, not only to those persons who have a special interest in the welfare of young persons, but also to the entire British people.
It is a matter of grave concern that juvenile delinquency is not only a social tragedy but a social evil, and an evil which presents a direct threat to the wellbeing of our nation, a threat both to our future society and our future economic well-being. I say this because there is a direct relationship between adult crime and juvenile delinquency. I assure the House that research clearly shows that more than half of our adult criminals begin their lives as juvenile delinquents. It is, therefore, a matter of paramount importance that we halt and reverse the trend of juvenile delinquency. It is only by doing this that we can hope to reduce our shockingly high crime figures.
1893 I think it would be true to say that the question which is uppermost in the minds of Press and public alike is this: are the Government enjoying any measure of success in achieving this desirable objective, and if not, what should be done to reverse the present upward trend in crime? Hon. Members will no doubt, have noticed that last Wednesday our national newspapers gave great prominence to two Reports dealing with crime which had been published the day previously. I refer to the Report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis together with that of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary for the year 1960. A shocked Press revealed to an uneasy public that crime had reached a peak never before known in this country; further, that it is still rising, and that for the first time on record the total number of indictable and non-indictable offences in the Metropolitan area exceed 200,000, or an average of 550 crimes a day.
A closer study of the crime statistics contained in these Reports reveal that during 1960 the number of juveniles found guilty before the courts had increased to 107,000. Of this total 57,360 were found guilty of indictable offences. The contents of these Reports proved too much for some of our national newspapers, and one on 2nd August devoted its entire editorial to an article called "Spotlight on Crime". This reaction can surely be accepted as ample evidence of the grave concern which these Reports have caused, and understandably so.
Such Reports are of great value, and this country is fortunate in that annual records of criminal statistics have been kept since as long ago as 1857. I would, however, in all humility warn students of criminology that criminal statistics are full of pitfalls and that the utmost caution should be exercised in interpreting figures or in arriving at conclusions. For example, figures of crimes known to the police would obviously appear to be a better guide to the trend of criminality among the population than those of persons charged before the courts. In fact, however, they are much more unreliable due to variations in reporting and recording.
It is also necessary to exercise great caution when somebody boldly states that the incidence of crime or delinquency is higher in one country 1894 than in another—that, for example, juvenile delinquency is higher in Britain than it is in France or Sweden or Russia or the United States. It must be remembered that a delinquent, whether juvenile or adult, is a person who offends against the laws of the country or the State in which he or she lives. It follows, therefore, that the person who is classed as a delinquent in one country may not be so classed in another.
It should also be noted that in Britain there exist laws relating to children and young persons which, if broken by a juvenile, bring him or her into the delinquent class. Such laws are not operative against adults. A typical example was the case last year of the girl in Holloway Prison. Originally prosecuted for playing truant from school, she was made the subject of a probation order which she broke. This breach led to her being remanded to Holloway Prison under Section 27 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948. An adult who is not subject to the laws relating to juveniles could never have received such treatment. I know of no law which could land an adult in prison simply because he refused to go to work.
Let us, with due caution, proceed to examine the latest statistics relating to juvenile delinquency. I will first deal with the figures for indictable offences, because it is here that the trend in juvenile delinquency is truly reflected. During 1956, 57,360 juveniles were found guilty before the courts of serious and indictable offences. A year ago, when we were discussing the same problem, we had before us the figures for 1959. Hon. Members will recall that the figure then was 53,183. Thus, for the sixth year in succession, the rise in the number of serious and indictable offences committed by juveniles has increased, and from 1959 the figure has gone up by more than 4,177.
While this news was received with disappointment by both Press and public, it was not completely unexpected by those connected with the problem of juvenile delinquency. The inescapable fact is that over the past five years each year has seen an increase in the number of juveniles found guilty before the courts of indictable offences. In 1955 the figure was 35,513. In 1957 it leapt to 45,107 and last year it rose to 53,183. In 1960 it has reached the figure of 57,360. This 1895 means that over the past five years each succeeding year has seen an average of 4,370 more juveniles found guilty of indictable offences.
As no steps whatever had been taken to combat the upward trend of juvenile delinquency during the years under review there was, of course, no reason to suppose that the figure for 1960 would other than maintain that average annual upward trend of 4,000-plus which, in fact, it has done.
I come now to the problem of the number of juveniles found guilty before the courts of all offences, indictable and otherwise. The figure for 1960 is 107,000. In 1959 it was 99,559. Over the preceding four years the rise had been at the rate of an average of 10,000 a year, from 60,666 in 1955. This upward trend is still with us, but we can take comfort from the knowledge that the increase in the number of juveniles found guilty before the courts of all charges increased by only 7,441 over the figure for 1959. This is about 2,500 less than was expected and, in conjunction with certain steps recently taken by the Home Secretary and which should start to become effective in the coming months, there is reasonable cause to believe that the tide is now about to turn.
The measures which the Home Secretary has taken in the last twelve months, and which cannot be expected to be reflected in the statistics for 1960, are really progressive. It is my opinion that more real progress has been made during the past twelve months to halt the ever-increasing incidence of juvenile delinquency than has been achieved in the past half-century.
We must be patient, though, because it will take time before the benefits deriving from the Home Secretary's positive steps during the past year begin to be adequately reflected in our annual statistics of juvenile delinquency. The complexity and confusion that abound in this vitally important sphere of social rescue and rehabilitation—the product of the neglect of successive Governments over more than fifty years—cannot be eradicated by the stroke of a pen. The problem of the juvenile, both the offender and the non-offender, is a highly complex subject.
1896 Let us consider the legislation directly affecting the juvenile that has been passed in the last decade alone. In that period, eight Acts have passed through Parliament: the Children Act, 1948; the Criminal Justice Act, 1948; the Adoption Act, 1958; the Matrimonial Proceedings (Children) Act, 1958; the Legitimacy Act, 1959; the Mental Health Act, 1959, and the Children Act, 1958 which, as hon. Members may recall, received the Royal Assent in August, 1958, only to have its entire Part II promptly repealed in December of the same year. I shall deal with the eighth Act in a moment, because in it are maintained the progressive steps to which I have referred.
It should be realised that those seven Acts are themselves largely integrated with a number of earlier Measures such as the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, the Children Act, 1908, and a number of reforms passed in the last century, dating back to the Industrial School Act, 1861. Such was the mass of piecemeal legislation that confronted the Home Secretary only twelve months ago; a mass of legislation which, from my own experience, I know was alarmingly complex, frequently conflicting and usually quite unworkable if the best interests of the juvenile were to be placed first.
In short, the right hon. Gentleman was confronted with a fantastic system consisting of the old penal system, to which an effort had been made to graft new and more enlightened methods of treatment from time to time over the last century—because all these schoolchildren of fourteen were still being remanded to notorious prisons like Holloway and Wormwood Scrubs.
The eighth Act is the Criminal Justice Act, 1961. Brought in by the Home Secretary, it contains measures representing the biggest step forward in legislation relating to young offenders since the original Children Act, 1908—which Act, by the way, provided for the establishment of juvenile courts. It also attempted to close prisons to children under 16 but, unfortunately, never succeeded in doing so.
In the new Act we see at long last a complete attempt to end the system of treatment of the young offender which had for far too long contained methods 1897 of treatment long since outmoded. Steps have been taken to ensure that no longer will juveniles be sent to prisons. Incidentally, I should like the Minister to tell us whether the Wormwood Scrubs boys' prison has now been closed; I am informed that it has.
Gone for ever, also, is the unfortunate compromise, for so long practised, of attempting to house the new spirit of education within the old prison system. In such prison surroundings a juvenile inevitably mixed with older youths and others more hardened in criminality. A juvenile is particularly susceptible to criminal indoctrination, so that such prison treatment, far from acting as a deterrent, could only have the opposite effect. How true indeed are the words of Goethe:Children, like dogs, have a scent so sharp that they detect everything—the bad before all the rest.The Daily Mail has fought hard in the battle to end the imprisoning of children, which a year ago it so rightly described as a stepping stone to a rake's progress and a system which meant that children were bundled together with possibly hardened criminals, and a system which should he smashed. I thank the Daily Mail for its powerful support. The system has now been smashed and it has played a major part in achieving the victory.
In my view, this criminal indoctrination of the young has been one of the main causes of the ever-increasing incidence of juvenile delinquency. We can all take renewed hope for the future in seeing the back of it. Other progressive steps which have been taken include far wider provisions for the use of borstal training and of detention centres for the social rescue and rehabilitation of the young offender. This is also most important because juvenile delinquents are, in most cases, the victims of bad social background or act under their own retarded or morbid mental development or immaturity. The former practice of subjecting them to treatment which had no educational value and did nothing to discover or destroy the root of the evil was quite useless.
The Home Secretary's decision to make wider provision of borstal training and detention centres is praiseworthy and will go a long way in preventing 1898 further development of criminal tendencies in juvenile delinquents and, further, can, in most cases, be expected to effect the social rescue of the youngster.
There is much more work to be done and there are further steps which might well be taken. I recommend that consideration be given by the Minister to the drafting of a new Children and Young Persons Act. In many respects, the 1933 Act does not meet the requirements of a changed society in the year 1961.
I have been asked to say a few words on the possible causes underlying the ever-rising incidence of juvenile delinquency. I have mentioned one reason and there are, of course, others. It was recently mentioned in another place that in spite of the enormous amount of research into juvenile delinquency—and, admittedly, to date more than twenty committees have reported—we are still at the stage of knowing very little which can be scientifically proved. My view after ten years' work in this subject is that the causes of juvenile delinquency will never be proved scientifically. Science works to clearly defined rules. The human mind in general, and that of the juvenile in particular, certainly never does. The use of plain common sense is far more likely to present us with an accurate answer to these human problems.
No child is born into the world to be good or bad. He is as bad or as good as we adults make it possible for him to be. Under this premise, the question of what causes juvenile delinquency or what influences are of prime importance in deciding whether a young person will be both willing and fitted to play his part in the life of the community resolves itself into this question: who, in the first instance, makes it possible for a child to be good or bad? There is only one answer—the parent.
§ It being Four o'clock the Motion for the adjournment of the House lapsed without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Noble.]
Not enough attention has been paid in my opinion by any of the Committees to the vital rôle of the parent. The greatest factor for good or evil in the life of a child is his parents. The 1899 strongest bond of human sympathy is the family circle.
The problem of growing up in a changing society is not new. It has had to be faced and overcome by every succeeding generation. I assure the House from my own experience that there is nothing wrong with British youth today; they are intelligent and of good physique, and they display qualities of courage and fortitude to a markedly high degree. But I would say that the difficulty of the older generation to understand the younger generation, a difficulty which has always existed to some degree, has increased dangerously during the past fifteen years. I further say that the constant criticism of the younger generation by the older generation leaves youth puzzled and resentful.
The present-day tendency to avoid parental responsibilities by passing such responsibilities to the police and to the child-care service of the local authority is a feature of modern parenthood which I consider to be deplorable. Furthermore, the Welfare State seems to have given rise to a class of parents who are selfish, irresponsible and inconsistent. Confusion abounds to confront youth today. Religious teaching and beliefs and the long-established sense of moral values are all being scoffed at and discarded by the adult population, as the world rapidly advances in so-called scientific knowledge. The youngsters find it difficult to believe in anything, including the security of their own future, in this atomic age. I will go as far as to say that there are very few adults sufficiently reliable and consistent to be in a position to present with confidence a scale of values acceptable to youth.
We must all resolve to become better parents. Let us remember the old saying, "Train your child in the way you now know you should have gone yourself." I think that every incentive should be made available to parents to exercise their responsibility. Nothing should be done to undermine the authority of the father as the head of the family. The rights of the parent should be respected by the State at all times, and no responsibility which is clearly and morally the prerogative of the father should be arbitrarily surrendered to officials of local authorities. In no circumstances should a child be 1900 parted from its parents and made the subject of a fit person's order unless there is no other alternative.
I conclude by saying that we can succeed in our fight to reduce the incidence of juvenile delinquency, because it is clear that the heart and the will to do so are there.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)
I am sure that we are all grateful to the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. A. Brown) for raising this most important problem before the House this afternoon. There can be no easy or quick solution to juvenile delinquency in its present form. This afternoon I should like to consider one or two matters in respect of juvenile crime in which we can be straightforward and practical.
One of the greatest difficulties with which any court has to contend when dealing with a juvenile is that it has to consider what can be done with him or her. As things stand, there is very little which can be done, apart from sending him to a detention centre, approved school, or borstal. The courts should be empowered to impose suspended sentences.
Suspended sentences have been ruled against by the Court of Criminal Appeal, which of course means that no court in the land would dream of imposing one, that court having ruled in that way. But the duty of the Court of Criminal Appeal is to interpret the law and it is our duty to make the laws. The time has come for Parliament to overrule the Court of Criminal Appeal in this respect.
§ Mr. Speaker
It is clearly our duty to make the law, but on this Question we cannot discuss legislation.
§ Mr. Crowder
What normally happens when a juvenile comes before the court is that he is placed on probation for two or three years and told quite firmly that if he commits any other offence, he will be brought back and punished for the crime which he has already committed. The result of that is that the youth leaves the court feeling that he has got away with it completely. I would like to see the courts able to say to him that if he returns to the court having committed another offence, he 1901 will be sent to borstal or a detention centre, unless the court to which he is returned thinks otherwise. I am sure that psychologically the idea in the mind of a child or youth that that will be the penalty if he commits another offence would have a much greater effect than the present system.
I would also like to empower probation officers to have the right to take anybody in their care round a prison. Let some of these youths see the inside of a prison for a couple of hours, for the first time in their lives, and it will have a great effect upon them.
Equally, we have a problem with juveniles on the roads. Many of these young men are earning £10, £12 or £15 a week. Very often some of their money is spent on alcohol. I am not suggesting that they get into a car when they are not fit to drive because of alcohol, but youthful enthusiasm combined with a little drink can make them very dangerous drivers. I do not see why the courts should not have the right to impose a penalty on the youthful dangerous driver that he should have to carry a red D—instead of a red L—for any period, six months or a year, which the court thinks fit.
We have to deal with these people psychologically. They are human beings. Practising in the criminal court and sitting as deputy chairman of quarter sessions and as a recorder, I know something of their mentality. Many of them are much more tough, ruthless and hardboiled than some of us imagine.
In the old days the matter was simply dealt with by the village policeman, who took the youth into the police station and gave him a good hiding. If the village policeman were to do that today, instead of being given what he should be given, promotion, he would probably be dismissed the force.
§ Mr. A. Brown
The juvenile is a person under the age of 17, subject to the juvenile courts. I have not introduced the question of that group of over 17 and under 21 who are normally referred to as young adults.
§ Mr. Crowder
I am obliged to the hon. Member.
The hon. Member spoke of the parents and rightly said that parents should be 1902 treated with respect by the State. I agree with that entirely. But has the hon. Gentleman been to a juvenile court and seen how parents are treated? They are paraded in front of the magistrates with their children standing in front of them. Time and again I have seen magistrates literally tick off the parents in front of the children. Such a practice is rather like ticking off officers in front of men in the Army. It is wholly undesirable. The parents should sit apart from their children, because the inevitable result of the present practice is that the child feels that his parents are standing behind him and backing him up in the crime for which he has been brought before the court. I should like to see a marked change in the present practice.
I know that the Government are not so minded, but I cannot see why magistrates could not be empowered to impose corporal punishment in the form of the cane on juvenile delinquents. I say that for the simple reason that it hurts, and they do not like it. It is a deterrent, and it does not do very much harm if it is not applied too forcibly.
§ Mr. W. Griffiths (Manchester, Exchange)
The hon. Gentleman is a friend of mine. How on earth can he say that? There is no evidence that flogging or hitting people is a deterrent and reduces crime.
§ Mr. Crowder
I cannot today produce evidence to show that it makes any difference, but I do not think that anybody will disagree with me when I say they do not like it.
§ Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)
There is some evidence. The most expensive system of education in the world is based on it.
§ Mr. Crowder
I am grateful to my hon. Friend.
I hope that the Home Office will make a genuine effort to speed up the building of these new detention centres. Time and again at quarter sessions and in magistrates' courts one has a case which is ideal for a detention centre. The probation officer rings up, and time and again the answer comes back, "We are awfully sorry, but there is no vacancy."
1903 The Government have been a trifle dilatory in this respect. The great thing about a detention centre is that the youth who has committed a crime is given some discipline and hardship. He is given the right sort of discipline. He is given physical exercise and hard work for a short period of between three and six months, and experience shows that three months is about the most effective period which can be imposed. I hope that the Government will press ahead with the building of these new detention centres which are so essential.
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke)
If I may speak again with the leave of the House, I must thank the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. A. Brown), who has great experience in this field over many years, for raising this subject, I think for the second year running. I must thank him particularly for the kind words he said about the activities of my right hon. Friend, who unfortunately was not here to hear those kind words, but I will repeat them to him.
We are discussing a subject which is very near the minds and hearts of the vast majority of our population, the subject of juvenile delinquency. The causes of this phenomenon were briefly touched on by the hon. Gentleman. He concentrated on the breakdown of family life and parental responsibility, and of course we all echo his words.
I should like to touch on another feature of our modern life which may equally be responsible for some of the delinquency. I must make it clear that this is my personal view, but I do not think that anyone will disagree with it.
It seems to me that modern society is built on so vast a scale and is so impersonal—and, at the same time, the protective and regulatory features of modern society are so all-embracing—that it gives very little scope for the natural ebullience and the desire of young people, who are not in the first instance necessarily criminally-minded, to live dangerously and to make a noise.
Youth is a time of abounding energy—energy which used to be taken up in the bitter struggle to earn one's daily bread 1904 but now, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip—Northwood (Mr. Crowder) pointed out, it often finds that money is more easily come by and that possibly the exhaustion of that struggle, therefore, does not exist. But there is the opportunity for employing these instincts and desires on the roads and in places where they are very dangerous. It can be argued that with the affluent and the regulatory society has come the closing of various avenues, such as running away to sea, enlisting in foreign legions, and all the things that young people who, out of an excess of spirits, used to do. Owing to the protective regulations under which we live, fewer and fewer avenues seem open to them.
That being so, it may happen that the only avenue open to them is the motor bicycle upon the roads.
§ Mr. W. Griffiths
Is the hon. Member really saying that in 1961, after eleven years of Tory rule, the only avenue open to ambitious young men and women is to ride fast motor bicycles on the roads? That is outrageous.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I am sorry if the hon. Member thinks that it is outrageous. I believe that the danger on the roads, from perfectly well-disposed young men who are in other ways quite proper citizens, is a very real one, and I believe that most hon. Members would agree with that. I do not think I am saying anything very extreme. It is a serious problem. We know of the excellent work that is being done by such organisations as the Outward Bound Trust, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, and other bodies who seek to reawaken the spirit of adventure in our youth and turn it to good account, but their efforts cannot reach all the young people. Is it surprising that a number of them tend to emulate the more childish features of the adult world—its violence and its greed?
The hon. Member for Tottenham examined in some detail the statistics of crime for 1960, and I am glad that his conclusion was that the tide was about to turn. He thought that this was largely on account of the work that my right hon. Friend had done in the last twelve months on the Criminal Justice Act, especially in the separation of young people from hardened criminals. In this regard I am happy to tell him that 1905 Wormwood Scrubs prison is no longer taking young offenders on remand. They are going to the remand centre at Ashford. There are still some young offenders sentenced to imprisonment who are serving their sentences there, and offenders who are sentenced outside London to borstal training go there for allocation to their borstal, but those two classes are totally segregated from the adult criminals.
The number of young people under 17 years of age found guilty of indictable offences continues to increase. For those aged 14 and under 17 it rose (in round figures) from 25,300 in 1959 to 27,400 1960, while the number convicted under 14 years of age rose from 27,800 in 1959 to 29,900 in 1960. In considering these figures and comparing them with those for earlier years, however, we must bear in mind that our juvenile population as a whole has been increasing, so that even if the proportion of delinquents has remained stable some increase in their absolute numbers was only to be expected. If we are to get a clear view of the problem, it is better to discount the effect of the rise in population and to look at the situation in terms of the proportion of delinquents to the total number of their age group.
If we do that, we find that among children under 14 years the proportion of boys found guilty of indictable offences in 1960 was 1,250 per 100,000. Although this figure is larger than the corresponding figure in 1959, it is smaller than the figure in 1951, when it was 1,500 per 100,000. Thus, although, as the hon. Member painted out, the encouraging decline in the proportion of delinquents under 14 years between 1958 and 1959 has, unhappily, not continued, it is a long way from being as bad as it was ten years ago. I have chosen the year 1951 for comparison because that was the peak year for delinquency, when we feared that the figures would never stop rising. However, in the interval they passed through a trough in 1954–55, when many people looked forward to a continuing fall.
For the older age group, the picture is less comforting. The rate of indictable crime among youths aged 14 and under 17 is higher than ever before—2,400 per 100,000 compared with some 2,000 in 1951. Among those aged 17 and under 21, the story is much the same—an in- 1906 crease in the number of offenders in relation to population and a startling increase in absolute numbers of convictions of 12 per cent. for youths and 20 per cent. for girls between 1959 and 1960.
The statistics which I have quoted show that delinquency is not so prevalent among the youngest age groups as it was once among some of their predecessors at the same age. The hon. Member for Tottenham was quite right in giving a warning about the danger of statistics in this field as in almost every other. We must remember that statistics may reflect things other than the level of juvenile crime—for instance, an increase in police activity or a greater readiness to deal with juvenile offences, particularly those involving personal violence, by prosecution. On the other hand, it would be wrong to suppose that there was any action the Government could take which would be immediate and lasting in its effect. The causes of delinquency are deep-seated, and, in our view, they can be countered only by remedial action emending over a long period in which the Government must rely on the community as a whole to play its part.
Hon. Members will have seen the large programme of research into crime and the treatment of offenders which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary outlined in an Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) on 17th July. This includes an inquiry by the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge into the development of delinquent tendencies in children, a survey by the Usher Institute at Edinburgh of the progress of 5,000 children born in 1946, and research by Nottingham University into differences in parental attitudes to children's upbringing. We hope that all these projects will enlarge our understanding of the causes of the problem which the hon. Gentleman has put before the House.
Meanwhile, we cannot postpone action because we have not complete knowledge; the problem is too serious for that. We have to go on the knowledge that we have. We have recently had the Criminal Justice Act, and the hon. Gentleman has paid great tribute to its provisions. As he rightly said, the main theme of the Act is to separate the treatment of young offenders from the 1907 treatment of the old. The treatment of young offenders should be primarily remedial and should be carried out in separate institutions or separate sections of institutions.
For offenders under 17 years, sentences of imprisonment will be abolished altogether. The minimum age for borstal training will be reduced to fifteen and provision is being made for the transfer from approved schools to borstal of those who cannot or will not respond to approved school training but will benefit from borstal training. At the same time, we are providing within the approved school system means of dealing with young offenders suitable for approved school training if they can be held in conditions of security. There is also the provision for raising the fines imposed not only on the child but also on his parents. It enables a court to send delinquents to an attendance centre at an earlier age, and the question as to whether any new form of non-residential treatment can be devised is, as hon. Members may know, being considered by the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders.
I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip—Northwood who was anxious that the expense of punishment should be cheapened, perhaps, by one means or another. The use of attendance centres and nonresidential treatment is certainly cheaper than having recourse to residential treatment. But, of course, the new legislation under the Act requires a great deal of preparatory work—the building of detention centres, the provision of new approved schools and the rebuilding of approved schools. Indeed, the approved school building programme, which will cost over £5 million in its present phase, will result in improvements or extensions to over 100 of the 117 schools and we shall need more schools with the population bulge and the higher rate of intake. Sites have been selected for three new schools to be provided by local authorities and sites are being sought for another seven schools to be provided by either local authorities or voluntary organisations.
We are establishing more detention centres, priority being given to those for 1908 offenders aged 17 to 21, where the demand is the greatest, but at least two more centres for the under 17s are to be provided. It is my right hon. Friend's intention eventually to make a senior and a junior detention centre available to every court. My hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip—Northwood knows well the exacting programme of the training and of the regime in those detention centres.
We hope to provide more attendance centres in areas where a sufficient number of suitable offenders come before the courts. We opened a remand centre in Ashford which is receiving young offenders from London and the Home Counties for those aged 17 to 21 and for those under 21 who now have to be remanded to prison. I know that this must be particularly welcome to the hon. Member for Tottenham.
One of the most remarkable and, I think, not altogether easily explained features of the statistics which the hon. Gentleman mentioned are those relating to the rapid increase in the conviction of young girls who hitherto do not seem to have played a great rôle in the rise in juvenile delinquency. We intend to provide remand centres for girls. We propose to provide separate accommodation for girls in four of the centres now being built or planned outside the London area. The first of these at Risley in Lancashire will be opened in 1963. A site has been obtained for boys and girls at Low Newton, near Durham and the Prison Commissioners are seeking planning permission for others at Pucklechurch, near Bristol, and at Hewell Grange, near Redditch. When these are available a remand centre for girls should be available to every court outside the London area, and for the London area we intend, when the new women's prisons are built, to convert Holloway into a remand centre for both sexes.
I am afraid that in the time available I have not been able to go into the matter with which I think all hon. Members are most concerned, namely, to what extent this problem is being tackled in our educational system as well as in the other forms of social work. The House will recall that in the education debate on 17th July my right hon. Friend the Minister for Education spoke at some length of the work of 1909 the schools in this regard. But the root of the matter lies in the community, in the standards which society sets before young people, in the attitudes and examples shown them by adults, in the acceptance by parents of responsibilities, and, in my view, in spite of what the hon. Member for Manchester, Exchange (Mr. W. Griffiths) may say, in the facilities which society provides for the natural outlet of the ebullience and high spirits of youth, to see that they are directed into the proper channels and not into the improper ones of the fast motorcycle, hard drinking and association with hardened criminals.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)
Would my hon. Friend agree that one of the greatest problems upon which he touched was the lack of co-operation between schools and parents? So often the schools and the parents tend not to work together.
§ The Question having been proposed at Four o'clock and the debate having continued for half-an-hour, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order, till Tuesday, 24th October, pursuant to the Resolution of the House of 1st August.
§ Adjourned at half-past Four o'clock.