§ 2.58 p.m.
§ LORD PAKENHAM rose to call attention to crime in Great Britain at the present time; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it may be that various views will be expressed this afternoon about the adequacy of our criminal statistics. On that subject, as on so many others, of course, we shall listen with special interest to the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, who is to introduce his own Motion following mine, and who holds a special position—a position all his own—in the field of penal reform. Among other speakers there will be the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, Chairman of the Institute of the Study and Treatment of Delinquency, and renowned sociologists such as Baroness Wootton of Abinger. If I may say so without impertinence, it is a special pleasure for all of us who have taken part in these crime and prison debates for some time to find that we are to be advised and guided this afternoon by two most eminent Judges. We have missed them for some while in the past, but to-day Lord Denning is to speak, and the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, will be making his maiden speech. I feel that those facts add a special weight to our discussions.
Whatever we may say and feel about criminal statistics, I, at any rate, should find it impossible to challenge the first sentence in the White Paper, that most candid, brave White Paper called Penal Practice in a Changing Society, which was presented to Parliament by the Home Secretary in February. Your Lordships may recollect that the White Paper opens, as follows:
It is a disquieting feature of our society that, in the years since the war, rising standards in material prosperity, education and social welfare have brought no decrease in the high rate of crime reached during the war: on the contrary, crime has increased and is still increasing.
I suppose that a really systematic description of crime would divide itself under four heads: the facts of crime, the causes of crime, the prevention of crime and the treatment of the criminal, with a good deal of overlapping, of course, between the different headings. There are also most interesting philosophical issues, such as the nature of criminal responsibility; and I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Winster, will be dealing with some
of those this afternoon, as no doubt will other speakers. We could also discuss, and perhaps we shall listen to a discussion of, the relationship between crime and sin. I shall try to be fairly brief. I cannot promise to be—and it would be affectation, rapidly penetrated, if I said that I should be—very brief; but I shall try to be brief on the facts of crime and its causes and prevention, hoping that other speakers will supplement the deficiencies. I shall hope to be allowed to use the greater part of my time on the treatment of prisoners, both in prison and after their release from prison.
§ First, as regards the facts of crime. according to criminal statistics there were 283,000 indictable offences known to the police in 1938. We all know how difficult it is to take in all these figures, but in fact the broad picture which is raised is pretty clear, as I shall hope to show By 1945 the number of such indictable offences had increased to 478,000, or 69 per cent. higher than pre-war. By 1951 with an intermediate peak in 1948, it was 86 per cent. higher than pre-war. By 1954 we had begun to come down, and in fact the figure was down to 434,000. which was a lower figure than in 1945; and there were optimists who hoped that we should then return to the pre-war level. But since 1954 there has been a steady and very disquieting increase in crime in this country. In 1957, the last year for which we have the full figures, the total was 546,000, or 93 per cent. higher than in 1938; and for the first nine months of 1958 the total was 15 per cent. higher than for the corresponding period in 1957. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, for letting me have the latest figures in reply to my Question, and to say how pleased I am that he is taking his place this afternoon in the very strong team led by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor and the noble Earl, Lord Dundee.
§ Our crime total to-day, according to the latest figures, is roughly twice what it was before the war, though we should make just one allowance—for the increase in the population since pre-war days. That increase amounts to about 8 per cent., if we take the population over eight years old. Sexual offences in 1957 were more than three limes the 1938 figure, and the figures for crimes of violence 402 against the person were four times as high. When we become disquieted, as we must, with those last figures, as indeed with all the figures, we must bear in mind that the combined total of those two types of offence—sex and violence—was only 30,000 out of the 546,000 mentioned, or about 5 per cent. of the total.
§ Within the general increase of crime since pre-war days learned people seem inclined to distinguish at least three elements. First there is the general postwar increase; then there is what we might call the "wave movement", reaching peaks in 1948 and 1951 and at some date yet to be arrived at—because I am afraid that we do not by any means seem to have reached the peak. Thirdly, there is what may be called the criminal propensity of a particular generation—those born between 1935 and 1943, and particularly the generation born between 1938 and 1941. Those of this particular generation, for whatever reason, appear at all stages of their lives to have done more than their share of crime, and they are now responsible for the special weight of crime among young persons between the ages of 17 and 21.
§ On the other hand—and this is really the only encouraging feature in the figures—the same experts call our attention to the relatively light criminality, up to the present time, of those born since the war. If we take the population whose ages now are between 8 and 11 years, we find that crime per head of the population between those ages—people born since the war—was in 1957 only about 12 per cent. higher than in the pre-war period; and, allowing for the considerable possibility of error in the figures, we are entitled to say, if we wish to be optimistic, that the latest generation of all, that is post-war children, up to the present are not proving any more criminal than their pre-war forerunners, and a great deal less criminal than their immediate predecessors.
§ I am warned, however, that, although we cannot be sure, there is a kind of postwar "danger age" which these young people have not yet reached, so that we must not congratulate ourselves too soon. Meanwhile, we are faced with a situation which I am sure all would agree imposes a very heavy burden upon our social conscience. I must say one word (it can hardly be more, though I hope the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will deal with the 403 topic, among other matters) on the causes of crime. Some five or six years ago, under the auspices of the Nuffield Foundation, I embarked, with a good deal of expert help, on a critical examination of current views about the causes of crime. I repeat my gratitude for the great assistance I obtained at that time from the facilities which were accorded me and my colleagues by the Home Secretary of the day, now the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor. The book eventually appeared, on my own responsibility, last summer, and I would assure any noble Lords who have been unable to obtain copies that that is due to the fact that it is being reprinted. For all I know, that may be due to the Appendix supplied by Mr. Lodge, the masterly Home Office statistician.
§ Perhaps I may say only one other thing. Had I been asked to offer my own opinions, instead of weighing up the opinions of others, I should have tried to be more positive, and even speculative. Certainly no Home Secretary or Government can wait for scientific proof in this field. I remember the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor saying, when he was Home Secretary, that he had adopted a certain set of factors as a working hypothesis; and if I may say so, with respect, that is a very suitable attitude for a Home Secretary to adopt.
§ I have time for only two suggestions in connection with causes. First of all, the amount of research which we in this country have devoted to criminology, including, of course, the causes of crime, has hitherto been pathetically small. Two years ago we spent about £3,000. I remember quoting that figure in this House, and some noble Lord said that I must have got my figures wrong and that I must mean £3 million. I looked again and I said, "No, the figure is £3,000", as in fact it was. I see that this year it is to be £15,000. Here I am referring to grants from the Home Office to outside research. We must give credit also to the Home Secretary for initiating a Research Unit, still small but growing, at the Home Office. We are all encouraged to know that the Institute of Criminology is going forward under Dr. Radzinowicz, an excellent choice, as it first Director.
§ I must congratulate Cambridge on having shown in this matter an initiative 404 which, so far as I can see, has not been forthcoming from Oxford, from which disquieting rumours reach me in that connection. But unless my old university has very much changed since I was a don there, any comment of a critical nature by a politician, and particularly a former colleague, would have exactly the opposite effect to that which was intended; so I refrain from saying anything about Oxford. But we are all aware, or we should be, that it will be years before the fruits of all this admirable research are available to influence in a large way our practical policy.
§ Secondly (and this is my only other point about causes), I am not arguing for a moment that the crime figures are a fair index of the moral health of a nation, or that because we appear to have more criminals among us than we had before the war, we are necessarily, on balance, less moral: I think that would be a quite unsupported conclusion. But I do think that our level of crime can fairly be described as the biggest blot on our social showing in these postwar years; it is our social Achilles' heel. I ask whether this phenomenon is really quite so surprising as is sometimes suggested when it is now generally agreed that our national arrangements for dealing with delinquents have been allowed to lag far behind the general level of our social services since the war.
§ We know, for example—I think we all know—that our probation officers have been grossly underpaid and under-recognised. This is one example. We hope and pray that the new inquiry announced the other day into the Probation Service will lead to a transformation. But I am afraid that the way these devoted people have been treated is rather typical. In 1956 our prison services as a whole were described, after a unanimous condemnation in this House, in a leading article in The Times, as "last in the queue"; and, as I shall show in a moment, the situation to-day is in many respeots worse, not only relatively, but absolutely, than in 1956 when they were already "last in the queue."
§ My Lords, if we have seriously undernourished our prison services, we have shamefully starved the after-care of our prisoners when they are released. When we really need something we pay for it —£1,500 million a year on defence, for 405 example. I am not for a moment saying that that is too much where physical self-preservation is at stake. But moral self-preservation is involved just as intimately in the battle against crime; and even this year, when the figures are going up by nearly £4 million, we are spending only about £14½ million net on prisons; and the only figure given in the Estimates for direct State assistance to after-care for prisoners is one for £182,000—not millions at all—an increase of £35,000. That, as I say, shows quite a considerable percentage increase. To that £182,000 on after-care we should have, in practice, to add the funds raised by voluntary societies; and it would also be right to add some payment for the services of probation officers, who of course do quite a bit of this work, although after-care is, in fact, a very small part of the total work done by probation officers. In short, my Lords, we try to deal with the criminal, and with those who devote their lives to helping and reforming criminals, on the cheap. But human nature refuses to be disposed of quite so easily, and in this sense, among others, we get the amount of crime we deserve. Here at least, in our failure to deal with delinquents, is one cause of crime which is perfectly obvious and could readily he eliminated.
I said that my original headings would overlap, and I find myself passing from causes to treatment. But before coming to that subject properly I must say one word about one aspect (and it can only be one) of prevention. Most of those concerned with young people to-day, as we found in the youth debate, are proud of the rising generation; there is no need to give an apology for that generation at all. But there seems a general agreement that the fashion of carrying dangerous weapons is more widespread to-day than it used to be. It would he quite untrue, of course, to suggest that our ordinary young men carry knives or such things about with them. That would be a quite false picture of the young people to-day. But we read all too often of groups of young men "tooling up" (as it appears to be called) before setting off for a "show-down" with a rival gang. And this, some social workers, and police officers for that matter, with great experience, seem to feel is something new—or, if not new in kind, at least new and more serious in degree.406
§ I heartily applaud the Bill which Mr. Janne is introducing in another place to deal with flick knives and dangerous weapons; but in this matter public opinion has a part to play beyond the reach of legislation. The Daily Mirror has been running a most enterprising and public-spirited campaign appealing to parents and teen-agers to give up coshes and knives and suchlike things; and weapons have been sent in to that paper from all over Britain by anxious parents and worried teen-agers. I notice with satisfaction that more than 400 of these weapons —I am not sure that the figure is not 600—have been sent in voluntarily to the paper, including 20 guns, and these have been handed over to Scotland Yard. The House might be interested to see one or two specimens; I thought the House should know what we were talking about. These rather jolly little implements such as I have in my hand were sent in, as I say, by people who had the decency to be thoroughly ashamed of what they were doing; and I have a wide selection outside if noble Lords would wish to study the matter more fully. This particular one, for example, looks particularly nasty; but they are all very evil things.
§ I beg the Government to-day to say definitely and clearly two things at least: first, that they will support the Private Member's Bill on this subject in another place, or at the very least will give it all the facilities required; but I would hope for positive support. Secondly, I beg them to show their good will, as Scotland Yard have already shown it, towards all voluntary campaigns intended to bring home the reality of this growing menace. Young people must be persuaded at all costs to soil their hands no further with such despicable toys. We can all, perhaps, do our part, but the Government can give a lead; and, indeed, only the Government can give a lead to the full extent required.
§ That brings me fairly and squarely to treatment of delinquents. Obviously, there are many ways of treating delinquents, apart from prison, and I must leave to other speakers, in particular to the noble Judges, the whole question of sentencing policy. On that subject, however, I must repeat the conviction which has been expressed in past debates so often in this House: that there are many 407 in prison to-day whose presence there is in no way necessary on any argument of deterrence or retribution. I am sure that many of them could be reformed much more effectively outside, and certainly their absence from prison would make it vastly easier to reform the remainder, for whom, according to our present ideas, there seems to be no alternative to prison. However, I leave that topic mainly to others.
So we come once more to the present situation itself. It is now just on four years since we began in this House, in all-Party and non-Party unison, to denounce the prison arrangements of post-war Britain as unworthy of a Christian country. In all those debates, running back over four years, nothing, to my mind, is more significant, or in the long run perhaps has been more telling, than what was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, in 1955. I ventured to quote it last year and with the leave of the House I beg the opportunity of doing so again. He said in 1955 [OFFICIAL REPORT, VOl. 192, col. 758]:
We know what ought to be done, yet we do not do it. The result is that in certain respects, particularly in the matter of accommodation and work, so far from making any progress in a world in which a great deal of progress has been made in other walks of life, we have actually fallen back, I would almost say 50 or 60 years.
Those words carried the full weight of a particularly authoritative ex-Home Secretary.
§ Early in 1957 the right honourable gentleman Mr. Butler became Home Secretary, and almost at once, in an admirable speech elsewhere, he raised greater hopes of penal progress than had ever, I suppose, been raised so suddenly in this country. In view of the depressing facts which I must mention in a moment, let me hasten to say—and I know that these words will be echoed by those behind me, and I think by all in this House—that neither I nor anyone else in the penal field has questioned, or is likely to question, the genuineness of Mr. Butler's sense of mission or dedication to penal reform. But last year I was compelled to point out that when he took office he singled out three problems on which he was going to level his attack: overcrowding, understaffing, and shortage of useful work. Last year I ventured to sum up progress at the end of his first 408 year—and I do not think I was challenged—as follows. I said The overcrowding position was dreadful then, and is considerably worse now. The understaffing position was dreadful then, and in spite of an unexpected increase in numbers of staff is no better now owing to the crime wave. The work position was dreadful then and to-day is no better, some believe it to be worse."
§ That is what I felt compelled to say a year ago. I recognise, as any fair-minded person must, that circumstances have been very unkind to the authorities; but I felt bound to conclude then that, praise or blame apart, the story was a dismal result, as inadequate as ever.
§ My Lords, another year has passed. We shall, of course, await the Lord Chancellor's report most eagerly. I am well aware that there have been a number of improvements, of which the extension of what is called the Norwich system to a good many more prisons is among the most notable; and if I do not seek to mention any improvement, it will be partly to avoid stealing the thunder of the Lord Chancellor and partly because I wish to leave that pleasant task to him. Let me, however, on no account fail, even at this critical time, to pay my tribute to the selfless devotion of the prison authorities, from Sir Lionel Fox downwards. Most of them, I presume, are ordinary human beings, no better than the rest of us; but during the last five years I have encountered many times—as have others, I am sure—a noticeably high proportion in the Prison Service who labour far beyond the line of duty, and whose purpose can only be described as spiritual.
§ However, facts are brutal things, and we cannot ignore them. Whatever the causes of crime, the immediate cause of the lamentable position in our prisons is the increase of crime since the war, and particularly the increase of crime during the last three years. Before the war there were about 11,000 men and women in prisons and Borstals. In July, 1956, which is getting on for three years ago, when The Times described our prison services as "last in the queue", there were 20,700. Last April there were 24,300. There are now 26,300. Of course, that is well over twice the pre-war figure, and it has increased a great deal since 1956. It will not surprise the House to hear that in spite of all the efforts of the 409 authorities, which should not be underestimated, overcrowding is getting steadily worse. When Mr. Butler became Home Secretary he said that the measure of overcrowding could be broadly illustrated by the number of men who sleep three in a cell. In 1952 there had been 6,000 men sleeping three in a cell, but in 1957, when he took over, there were 2,000 sleeping three in a cell. Last year, at the time of our debate, the figure was 4,389 and now in the White Paper we find that it is 6,000. That means that about three times as many people are now sleeping three in a cell as when Mr. Butler became Home Secretary.
§ My Lords, how on earth are we going to improve the position, instead of letting it get, as I have said, steadily worse? One method I mentioned earlier, and which I must not stop to deal with now, is to reduce the numbers in prison by other forms of penal treatment. But, given the prison numbers, which are still increasing. are we going to shirk our responsibilities very much longer? It is, in my opinion, very much as though we shirked the responsibility of building new schools by omitting to notice that there was a bulge in the school population. Leaving over the very pertinent question whether we could build or could acquire more open prisons, I feel it right to point out to the House that the figure for new buildings and alterations in the Estimates for 1958–59 was £1,150,000, and that this year it has increased to £3 million. I do not want to belittle the improvement. In fairness, as I am being very critical, I think I should say that that figure of £3 million is slightly higher than I myself had expected. However, it may help rather than hinder the Home Secretary if the House records its opinion frankly about these figures. and I hope that neither the Lord Chancellor nor the Home Secretary will think me ungenerous if I say that, while this figure of £3 million is a great deal better than £1 million, the same rate of increase will have to be maintained for several years if we are to make any real impression on the problem.
Meanwhile, we are told in the White Paper that 11,000 out of the 15.000 now serving sentences of imprisonment— and that figure leaves out various categories: corrective training, preventive detention. civil prisoners, and so on—are in local prisons, and we must undoubtedly this
afternoon and this evening bend our minds to these local prisons in particular. Here I quote the White Paper, the Government's own statement—and, as I have said, I am grateful to them for their candour. It says that these local prisons
are in themselves quite unfitted to modern conceptions of penal treatment.
That is a statement by the Home Office about our own prisons—or, at any rate, about the prisons in which the great majority of our prisoners are housed. We are told officially that the prisons in which the great majority of our prisoners are housed—and I am now quoting the White Paper again—
were built 100 years or more ago to serve the purposes of solitary confinement, treadmill hard labour and brutal repression".
I must make it plain that here I am quoting; otherwise people will find the statement difficult to believe. The White Paper continues that these prisons
stand as a monumental denial of the principles to which we are committed".
My Lords, while we continue to tinker with this problem, even if the tinkering is a little more energetic than it used to be, I do not see how we dare to call ourselves a Christian nation in the full sense.
Staffing and work—those other eternal topics—I must leave mainly to others, though I feel ashamed to pass them over so lightly. The staffing story is about the same as it was last year. A satisfactory increase in numbers of staff has been cancelled out by the increase in numbers of prisoners. We are all glad, I hope, that the Government has accepted most of the recommendations of the Wynn-Parry Report. It was time, and more than time, that the prison staffs were much better treated. I am sorry to find, from the current number of the Prison Officers' Magazine, that the staffs are getting
more than a little exasperated at the delays and frustration
in getting the recommendations of the Wynn-Parry Committee implemented. It is their view that only a generous and statesmanlike gesture on the part of the Home Secretary can now restore the situation. I find those rather sad and disconcerting words, because I had hoped that things were going a little better than that. I hope the Lord Chancellor will be able to say something to create a better atmosphere this afternoon for the
discussions which I believe are now in progress. It should be observed, however, that shortage of staff is still a serious bottleneck. The three-shift system of work, which is considered by some as essential for adequate hours of work for prisoners, is in force in a little more than a quarter of our prisons. Before the war it was in force in all our prisons, so that, on balance, I am afraid we can hardly be said to have made any progress there.
In the local prisons, in which, as I say, 11,000 out of the 15,000 prisoners referred to are housed, the White Paper says that the work situation
has long been bad and is deteriorating.
My noble friend Lord Stonham, who will be winding up from this side of the House, can speak with special authority on this aspect, and if he does not go into it in detail to-day it may be because he is going to give us an opportunity on a date not yet fixed to discuss a Motion which concerns what are called the priority supplies as a whole, and that would include the prison authorities.
But on the subject of work I must say these two things in passing. I feel sure that we shall never overcome our difficulties so long as we seem to be arguing with the employers or the trade unions. as it were, across the fence. We have to get both sides of industry deeply involved with us in this problem and in sharing the responsibility for the fate of these fellow citizens in prison. I myself believe that an advisory body representing both sides of industry and committed to assist and advise the Government would be an immense step forward. There is one other point here which I make, though I am sorry to have to make it, because I have every reason to suppose that the gentleman in question has every qualification, moral and technical. The Prison Commissioners announce, with apparent pride, that they are
now assisted by the appointment of an experienced industrialist as industrial adviser.
It may not be the fault of the Prison Commissioners—when I may criticise them I usually find that it is not their fault; usually something else has stood in the way—but to suppose that a single gentleman in a voluntary capacity (and I stress the voluntary capacity) is a serious remedy for the work problem in prisons
is, I am afraid, a ludicrous underestimate of a grave social issue.
§ Finally, there is the question of aftercare, the treatment of men and women when we release them from prison. If I call attention to the grave weaknesses here, to the total inadequacy of our national provision, it must not be taken as a criticism of the voluntary societies, least of all of those selfless people who serve them for little or no reward. I happen to be the Chairman of The New Bridge, a small voluntary society which exists to supplement the work of the official bodies with personal service to ex-prisoners, and I am the first to agree that the voluntary contribution in this field is quite indispensable. But what I am saying is a criticism—I am bound to say a very severe criticism—of what I can only call our community callousness or coldheartedness, for which we as citizens, each one of us, must take our share of responsibility.
§ In penal reform, the State—and that, of course, means us—has always recognised its responsibility, even though it has moved towards it with feeble, groping gestures. In after-care we have not even recognised our national responsibility. I am afraid that a revolution in our outlook will be necessary before we do so. As a community, we seem incapable of realising even a tiny part of the handicap under which an ex-prisoner labours. Some of the handicap is hardly avoidable, quite apart from any initial handicap of temperament, of which I am not speaking this afternoon. Any form of publicly administered punishment must be a terrible blow to self-esteem. and the more sensitive and more intelligent the man, the more enduring the shame and distress. I know that this problem must have come to the notice of many of your Lordships many times.
§ No employer—and I speak as one—can pretend that he can be indifferent to the record of someone seeking employment under him, particularly where dishonesty has been involved. And no one trying to help a prisoner with a testimonial can avoid the dilemma of whether to tell the whole truth or only part of the truth. In any society, we can foresee that these obstacles to an easy re-acceptance of ex-prisoners are bound to stand in the way. But surely, if they exist, as I think they must for some time, they impose a 413 special duty on those—and this means all of us—who have taken on ourselves the task of 'punishing and reforming delinquents. From this point of view, it makes neither sense nor Christianity, nor any form of morals, to announce that we are seeking to reform a man in prison and then to repudiate—for that is what it amounts to—any effective responsibility for helping him to overcome the peculiar difficulties inherent in his new life: or, in other words, to complete his treatment.
§ I submit to the House a six-point programme for after-care. First. the recommendations of the Maxwell Committee have still not been implemented, though of course it would be quite untrue to say that nothing has been done. The Committee 'recommended that so far as voluntary after-care was concerned, each prison should appoint at least one social worker. and the larger ones several, to prepare prisoners for release. By now I believe that there are fifteen prison welfare officers in local prisons and that another eight are to be appointed shortly. This is fairly slow going, and we must press for the full implementation of the Maxwell Report without further procrastination.
§ Secondly, the Home Office Advisory Committee have recommended—and I am glad that the Home Office intend to carry this out—that statutory after-care should be extended to cover various new categories of prisoners. Such statutory aftercare is to be carried out by probation officers, or in the London area by officers of the Central After-Care Association. The limiting, factor here is the number of probation officers, and until their status is substantially raised an adequate flow of recruits for the ever-increasing tasks which will fall on them is not likely to be forthcoming.
§ Thirdly, we must stress the need for hostels for homeless prisoners. on the lines of Norman House, which has won such admiration and well-deserved gratitude. The Howard League started the Margery Fry Memorial Fund in honour of that wonderful woman, who worked for so long with the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and I gather that they intend to run a hostel for discharged prisoners in Birmingham. All good luck to the Howard League! But what is really needed is a network of such hostels in all our towns and cities. Where other 414 backing is not available, they should be maintained by the local authorities. No doubt in many cases they will require a Governmental spur to action.
§ Fourthly, the National Assistance Board offices have a vital part to play. Any large office should have one official who should concentrate on discharged prisoners, rather on the lines of the disablement rehabilitation officer in large Labour Exchanges. Such special N.A.B. officials should keep a list of landladies prepared to accept ex-prisoners, and make arrangements for direct payments to these landladies when a homeless prisoner comes to them. At present, a vicious circle operates all too frequently—no assistance money without an address: no address obtainable without assistance money. We have to break that vicious circle somehow.
§ Fifthly, the same idea should be applied at the labour exchanges which, in my eyes, are at the moment the key point in the struggle; but in the case of the Ministry of Labour it should be carried higher and wider. It should be the business of the State to take special steps to promote the employment of ex-prisoners. Until the public is educated not to draw away their skirts from those who have been in prison, the adequate re-employment of the ex-prisoner will always he very difficult. A few, a very few, employers will accept those whom they know to be ex-prisoners. Many reputable firms have an iron rule against employing anybody with a prison record. Why not a Government scheme—and we seem to be forced to look for a Government scheme —for the re-employment of the ex-prisoner? The nationalised industries could set an example. The ordinary employer, particularly the large employer, should be encouraged to take a percentage of ex-prisoners, especially first offenders, and it might well be that the Government could indemnify employers against any dishonesty on the part of an ex-prisoner during at any rate the first part of his work with his new employer.
§ I come, sixthly and lastly, to the point made by various officers, particularly by Mr. C. R. Hewitt—and I suppose that no one has done more than he, under the name very often of "Rolph", in the New Statesman and elsewhere, to influence opinion that matters in ways that really benefit. It should be axiomatic 415 that no prisoner should be discharged without adequate arrangements being made for his immediate accommodation and proper financial provision for his first week outside, so often the absolutely crucial week affecting his whole future life. The existing arrangements of the National Assistance Board are quite useless to the man who does not have enough money to provide himself with an address other than a hostel. Ten pounds of savings to be handed to a man on discharge regardless of means test would transform the situation for the better and, of course, when we have a proper scheme of earnings in prison, the money would not have to be given to the prisoner, as now; it would be the result of his own labours in prison. There, my Lords, is a six-point programme; and, while I do not claim any kind of infallibility for it, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will deal with it seriously and carefully.
It may be asked, though not too loudly in this House: "Why should we go to all this trouble? Why should anything special be done for ex-prisoners? Have they deserved extra well of the community that something additional should be done for them?" Well, there are plenty of spiritual answers to be found to that question, and no doubt the right reverend Prelates who are to speak will supply them. But I may be forgiven for quoting one which is perhaps the simplest and best known of all. We find it in the Gospel of St. Luke at Chapter 15, Verse 31. There the father of the prodigal son says to the older son who complained that a kid had never been given him to make merry with his friends:
Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD had given Notice of a Motion to call attention to the Home Secretary's recent proposals in Command Paper 645 for dealing with young and adult delinquents; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I have several times had the privilege of following the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, when he has introduced one of these periodical debates 416 on penal treatment. I am glad to have had the chance. The noble Lord always speaks with such a wealth of knowledge and with so much detail that he relieves me from going into a minute description of the state of affairs and leaves me to deal with these questions from a rather broader angle.
§ Your Lordships will see that I have put on the Paper a Motion specifically drawing attention to the Home Secretary's recent White Paper. It is one of the most remarkable documents issued from the Home Office for many years. It sets out a comprehensive programme upon which the Home Secretary intends to start, particularly dealing with the inadequacy of prison accommodation. If your Lordships will look at the White Paper, you will find that no fewer than thirty-five considerable new penal institutions are contemplated, and a building programme for the staff covering 35,000 houses. That is a remarkable programme, and I pay tribute to the Home Secretary for having got it through the Cabinet and for having obtained a general acceptance for the start of it. I can pay a particularly sincere tribute to him, because, as an old Home Secretary, I know how difficult it is to get accepted a programme that deals on any comprehensive scale with penal treatment and particularly with prison buildings.
§ It is worth noting—and this confirms what I am saying about the difficulty of getting a programme of this kind accepted—that there would seem to be nothing in the Home Secretary's White Paper that was not included, or at any rate inherent, in the programme that I introduced twenty-two years ago, in 1937. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, rather tended to suggest that the delays and difficulties had arisen particularly in recent years, and that Mr. Butler had been moving very slowly. Let us remember, my Lords, that every successive Government has been equally responsible for these delays, and that the country, in turning its back upon the urgency of these questions, has also been responsible.
§ I have a suggestion to make to avoid similar delays taking place in the future. The Home Secretary has produced an excellent White Paper containing a comprehensive programme. It does not, however, set out year by year how the programme is going to be carried out. suggest that he should produce another 417 White Paper in which should be set out, year by year, say, over a period of five years, how these thirty-five new penal institutions are intended to come into being and how the other changes contemplated in the White Paper are to be carried out. I know it is often said that one Minister cannot bind his successors, but I venture to suggest that in a case of this kind, where there is no Party feeling, and where it is most unlikely that even if there were a change of Government there would be any reversal of this policy, it would be a wise and salutary act to put down in black and white how this programme is going to be carried out.
§ I pass from the White Paper (your Lordships will see that I am not dealing with it in any detail, because I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House), and I come to the broad issue that arises behind it. The increase of crime has been vividly described by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. I remember well that in the two years before the war the problem was not the increase but the decrease of crime; it was not a question of finding accommo, dation for the prisoners, but one of finding prisoners for the prison accommodation. One of the last decisions for which I was responsible atthe Home Office was to decide to close Dartmoor, because there was no demand for it owing to the falling number of serious criminals, and to close that ridiculous sham Windsor Castle, in Seven Sisters Road, which was virtually the only prison we had for women. Compare that state of affairs with that which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has just described to the House. It is very depressing. It is all the more depressing because this great increase in crime has accompanied a great rise in material conditions. We used to think that poverty was the main cause of crime—bad living conditions, bad housing, and inadequate education. Now what do we see? We have seen a great rise in material wealth. We have seen a great increase in the social services; and yet we have seen crime steadily rising even to a greater extent. That raises a formidable problem.
§ How has it come about? How can we deal with it? It is not peculiar to this country. Recent inquiries that I have made show that juvenile crime in recent years has increased more rapidly in the most progressive countries of Western 418 Europe than in the other countries. I am told that juvenile crime has increased most rapidly in this country, in Western Germany, and in Sweden, where material conditions have greatly improved, and where social services are far ahead of those in most of the other countries of Europe.
§ Now what does that mean? I suppose we could argue for ever about the details that make up the reason. I content myself with a very simple answer. I believe that crime has increased in these countries because temptation has increased, and the power of resistance to temptation has not been strong enough to overcome it. It is not that the Welfare State is wrong, but that the Welfare State, coming rapidly after the tremendous revolutions of two World Wars, and accompanied by the most incredible inventions and discoveries of science, has swept the world off its feet. The old landmarks have gone; the old conventions have been abolished; and the general impression has grown up that there are no particular rules in the game of life. That raise a whole series of formidable questions both here and over the whole world.
§ It is well that we should realise that the question with which we are dealing to-day is not confined to this country but affects the whole world. What is happening to-day in Tibet or Nyasaland is all part of this general commotion that has spread over the whole world. Let me give your Lordships a picturesque illustration—I found it in the New Statesman. It described how the young generation of Eskimos have abandoned their ancestral drum dances and fur-trapping for jazz and card-playing, and at the Equator the young Dyaks jeer at the tribal customs of their elders and sit apart in the jungle tree-tops playing poker. What more picturesque illustration can one have of the changes that two world wars, and all that has followed them, have had upon the world from one end to another?
§ The first fact to realise is that we are dealing not with a question restricted to this country, but with something much more profound and deep than the question of penal treatment. That does not mean that I underrate the Home Secretary's proposals for reform: I think they are excellent. But supposing they all come into operation quickly, we shall still be faced with this great central problem, the result of these world upheavals. 419 Mr. Butler has rightly said that it is no good attempting to impose severer penalties. We have already a whole series of very severe penalties, if they are properly used; and it is worth noting that in certain of the States of North America, where incredibly severe penalties have recently been imposed, crime is worse than anywhere else in the world. Mr. Butler has rightly concentrated upon bringing our penal institutions up to date. That is at any rate the first step for a Home Secretary to take. But beyond that first step there is the much more important next step of how to deal with this general moral landslide. I am not so ambitious as to suggest specific remedies. There certainly is no panacea, least of all a short-time panacea. We must approach it over a wide front with the help of everybody; the State and voluntary effort. We have somehow or other to build up a power of resistance to these new temptations which come from the sudden high wages of the young without any corresponding responsibility; and temptations which come from films and television and give the impression that the world is nothing more than a world of wild adventure. I could go on with several suggestions of that kind.
§ The concrete suggestions that I would, however, venture to make are, first, that there should be a closer co-operation between the State and voluntary services. I think it may be found that we pushed the State services too quickly in the last three or four years, and that more might be done as a result of a closer cooperation between the two. I think also that it may be necessary, after this ten or fifteen years' experience of the new social services, to see whether, in some cases, they do not overlap each other. That is the suggestion I have to make. I suggest, further, that we have gone much too far and fast (I am not now arguing the general case of divorce) with the facilities for divorce. I found that in my own public lifetime, a lifetime that now covers fifty years, the number of decrees absolute has risen from 2,816 to 147,858. I venture to suggest that behind those figures are very many broken homes—the direct cause of much of this increase in crime.
§ Lastly, my Lords, I suggest to the Home Secretary that, having now 420 analysed so acutely and comprehensively the position of crime, he should lead a campaign in the country to concentrate every possible effort upon building up resistance to the new temptations. He might do it by a series of speeches in the country; perhaps, better still, he might do it in a series of regional television interviews. Anyhow, I am sure the country is now alive to this very formidable problem of crime, and this is the moment to stir it up further and make sure that a really united and genuine effort is made to stop the increase. Noble Lords will see that I have tried to deal with this problem from a very broad angle. I have not gone into the details, but I think I have said enough first of all to commend the Secretary of State's plans; but, still more, I hope that I have said enough to show that we are dealing with a great moral problem that faces the whole world at a time of unprecedented change. We cannot afford to let this blot remain upon the surface of the Welfare State, but by a united effort, perhaps over a long period of time, we must prove that here in this country we can deal with these new temptations, and that we can create a power to resist them. Before I sit down perhaps I should say that I do not propose to move the Motion in my name as this present debate covers anything I proposed to say.
§ 4.2 p.m.
My Lords, once again we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, for introducing this debate in a year when things are no less acute and the crime figures are more startling than they have ever been before. I would at the start of my speech say just one word to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, about his book The Causes of Crime. To me it was very useful, and I would commend it most sincerely to anyone who is at all interested in this subject. The noble Lord has received the greatest compliment an author can get by having his publication require a reprint so quickly.
This afternoon I wish to talk mainly about the White Paper and points that arise in it. When I first read it, though I found it full of truths and of good intentions, it seemed to me, if I may be quite blunt, to be rather a shocking admission of lack of progress on the part of a Government which has been in office so long. Year after year your Lordships 421 have been asking for these very improvements, but it is not until the crime rate is higher than it has ever been before that these promises are given that something at last is to be done.
I do not pretend for a moment to be an expert in criminology, but I suggest that even the most knowledgeable would not find it any easier to explain the root causes of the present rise in crime than any interested amateur; and whether these improvements, welcome though they are, will in actual fact be the answer remains to be seen. In my humble opinion, despite the impossibility of pinning the causes of this rise to any particular thing or things, there can be no lasting improvement until the moral standards of this country are raised. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, quite rightly said that a rise in crime does not necessarily mean that our moral standards are low, but I think the opposite is also correct: that if your moral standards are low, then it is almost certain that you will have a rise in crime.
The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, has already, in one word, put the whole position clearly: it is a question of temptation. Unfortunately, my Lords, as with every other point in the debate this afternoon, one could spend the whole of the time discussing that one point, but it would be like a clergyman who, with maybe a full congregation, attacks them for not going to church, when in actual fact they are the only people who do go to church in this House, if one went into it in too great detail it would be like attacking the people who are really sympathetic and understanding about the problem. If we look at history, though we shall find that the first years after the last war will prove to be the period when more was done for the people of this country than ever before, I think history will also show that those improvements were attempted too quickly, and instead of the immediate gain we hoped for we shall see rather the contrary. Such is the Welfare State: quite excellent in theory, but is it not in practice turning out at the moment to be an ill-timed attempt to alleviate the fears and increase the happiness of the masses? Through the speed in which it was presented, it is encouraging people to work less for more money and without any positive ideas as to how to use their spare time. It is in 422 that particular point, in the use of one's spare time, that the good or bad way of life can be learned.
In case we are getting a little too depressed about the whole position, I would point out that it appears that this rise in crime is following the same pattern as in periods before the crisis. The same thing happened after the First World War; the same thing happened after the 1930 crisis and depression. If it continues to follow the same pattern, then this particular rise may well nearly have reached its peak, and if the present improvements are implemented, and implemented quickly, there is a hope, I think, that the crime figures will tend to fall. Emphasis in the White Paper is mainly on the rise in crime of youths between 16 and 21, and of course that is by far the most serious part of the whole problem, because if these young men become recidivists the crisis can well remain for many years to come, and if we do not in future segregate first offenders from recidivists then they, in turn, will have their minds poisoned. Therefore I suggest that it is of the utmost importance to bring these young men back into the world of sense and civilisation, and away from crime.
That cannot be done while there are no remand homes, while Borstal boys spend up to three months in local prisons, and while youths with sentences of between three and six months' imprisonment never go to young people's prisons but remain the whole time in gaol. Therefore I would most humbly ask that this matter has top priority in anything that is done. It means a faster building programme than is envisaged, a matter to which I will refer again in a few moments. It is also extremely serious that there is so great a rise in the total of sexual and violent crimes by these young people. I appreciate that the percentage taken over all indictable offences is still very small, but the public abhors these crimes, and through the great publicity given them it always appears that there are far more of them than is actually the case. Nevertheless, although it is a small percentage it is all the time rising.
There has already been a cry from the public for a return to corporal punishment, just as there has been a cry for return to capital punishment. I personally think that a great number of the 423 people who commit violent crimes would, being cowards, be deterred by this kind of punishment; but it must be a retrograde step to go back to the corporal punishment that we used to have. Nevertheless, if nothing is done about the rise in this type of crime the public may well still demand it. Like other modern and unhurtful methods, this sparing of the rod has, I think, gone just a little too far. Feeble parents now run to the law because their poor little boy has been justifiably smacked by his master for a crime. I think that just a little hint that such punishment could come back would do more good than harm, and it might well curb a tendency to crime at a very impressionable age.
It seems to me that in regard to any crime there is no use in sending a person to prison for less than six months. I am not at the moment referring to detention centres—I shall come to that matter in a moment. Apart from them, if a person does not go to prison for six months or more there is little time for rehabilitation and none at all for training. So I should like to see far more lenient treatment for first offenders, again excepting those guilty of crimes of violence, and a minimum sentence of six months for any second offence. Paragraph 48 of the White Paper states that 87 per cent. of first offenders in the year 1953–54—a very high proportion—had not returned to prison by 1957. I do not think it is unduly optimistic to say that they are probably most unlikely to return after that period, and it would seem well worth the experiment of being really charitable and understanding and not sending a considerable number of these people to prison at all. Of course, we can have no definite ruling—it would still have to be left to the judge to decide; otherwise those who think that there would be a great danger in it would be right. But I personally do not think that many would risk committing a second offence if they knew it meant serious punishment, but would think themselves lucky that they have had their first crime "free". If this proposal were accepted—there are great numbers in prison for less than six months—it would bring down the population of the prisons immediately; it would give to the staffs the chance for training those that remain; it would put an end to the appalling number of three 424 prisoners in a cell, and it would give an immediate opportunity of segregating first offenders.
Now just a word on detention centres. I have spoken on these before. I think they are excellent and are doing a wonderful job of work for these young men, giving them what is called a short, sharp shock of three months. I am delighted to see in the White Paper that there is expected to be an expansion of these detention centres. Paragraph 40 saysit is hoped that all young persons sentenced up to six months will go to detention centres.Here I must ask one question: does that mean that there are to be two or more types of these centres? A percentage of young prisoners are not fit enough to go to them. Unfortunately, many young criminals are of low physique and mentality. I do not think that they would ever benefit from the detention centre as it now is. What is going to happen to them?
Another important point is that these offenders are all either first offenders or ex-approved school boys. Cannot we keep these detention centres out of the code of imprisonment altogether? Cannot we count sentences in a detention centre as being not imprisonment, and therefore as having no stigma attached to them? I know that in theory there is no stigma and that when you leave prison you are as free as you were before, but that is not the fact in practice. I am not asking for a change in the responsibility of the Prison Commissioners. I just ask that when these detainees leave they should be allowed to say that they have not had a term of imprisonment.
I should like to say just a few words about the police. Modern techniques have so improved, through radio and through fast communications, that tracing a criminal is made easier. Some people have given this as a cause for the rise in crime, in that more people have been caught. But I do not believe that the proportion of non-detected crimes is getting any less, or that a larger proportion are sentenced to imprisonment. I should not claim that it is a cause of the present rise. But one thing still worries me about the police: do they really give a fair chance to an ex-prisoner? If these boys or men return to where they lived before they committed the crime one finds the 425 police over-watching them in their activities, and they become the first suspects if there is any trouble in the neighbourhood. Of course, sometimes they are the culprits; but sometimes they seem to be picked on without any cause. Naturally, this causes resentment among these ex-prisoners. It is against the principle that once you have served your sentence you are free to do what you like, so long as you do not commit a crime.
There will always be "old lags" who one wishes and hopes and prays will pull themselves together, but they are not the majority; they are only a few of the exceptions. The police seem to me to have a principle: "Once a criminal, always a criminal." These things hinder the effects of after-care, be it statutory or voluntary, and I am wondering whether there is sufficient understanding between the police and after-care authorities. How far in fact do the police help? How far can they help? Does the fact that they are always at the prosecuting end of a crime mean that they really cannot help in after-care? I cannot believe that that should be, or is, the case. I realise their difficulties, and I realise, too, that they are bound to be prejudiced; their profession brings them into contact with the worst side of human nature. But their attitude seems to me to be one cause of the insecurity felt by some of these boys who have been to prison or Borstal, or who are on probation and are seriously attempting to live a decent life.
Then in paragraph 8 there is mention of whether the police are used to best advantage. We all know the policeman who walks up and down a row of cars taking their numbers. We wonder whether that is really necessary, and we certainly wonder whether it is necessary to waste a policeman's life on that. I think it must be terribly degrading for a man in uniform who has any ambition to have that as part of his job. Could not that work at least be done by a civilian replacing a policeman? Where has this replacement by civilians taken place? It is to be hoped that it can take place to such an extent that the police can really tackle their own jobs.
Now for a few minutes I should like to speak on after-care. I always feel that this subject should take a whole debate on its own, and perhaps at some 426 time in the future we may have an opportunity of really dealing with this particular and most important subject—for it is, of course, a vast subject, and a field in which there is very great room for improvement. I can touch only briefly upon it, and first I want to touch upon those forms of after-care that are taken while the man is in prison. I believe we all realise and agree now that after-care does not mean just care after the prison time has been served. After-care should start at the earliest possible moment, probably on the date of sentence; for there is far more opportunity, of putting these people straight while they are in prison than there ever will be afterwards. But there again, in practice, it is now quite impossible, with the overcrowding, to take individuals, train them and try to rehabilitate them.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that after-care in prison is improving rapidly. Paragraph 80 of the White Paper shows that some extension is being made of what was called, I think, the Bristol experiment, whereby those serving (I believe) preventive detention were allowed to go out and work in a civilian occupation at civilian rates of pay during their last months in prison. That is now being extended to other cases, apart from preventive detention, and I would recommend that that should go on, I hope sincerely with the great success that it had at the start.
The other type of after-care in prisons is the home life system, by which the prisoner is completely trusted by being sent home to see his family, to fix his job or to get ready for that tremendously difficult time when he leaves prison and starts on a fresh life. That has done infinitely good work with ex-Borstal boys, and I am delighted that it is to be extended. I was going to talk about discharged prisoners' aid societies. I have never been at all happy about the way in which those work. I understand, however, that there has been some change in recent months, and I think it is better to make no further comment to-day; but I hope that an opportunity will be given to bring that matter up again in the future.
In paragraph 82 there is a reference to the extremely difficult problem of material aid. No doubt there was a time when, because a man did not have any 427 money, or perhaps only 10s. or 15s. when he came out of prison, he went back immediately to crime, particularly if he was let out at a weekend. He could not then get work until Monday. and unless he had a particularly good employer he could not get any pay for a week. That problem is now dealt with. I believe, by the Welfare Services. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has shown us some of the things that are wrong there. There is another. That is, that there is still the pride of the ex-prisoner which does not let him go to an assistance board. Somehow or other we have to persuade him that he will not be inferior if he goes there, but that it is for his own benefit, and, indeed, for the benefit of everyone. that he should do so. Nevertheless, until that times comes, I sincerely hope that discharged prisoners' aid societies will be encouraged to help materially, anyhow for the time being.
Finally, my Lords, I come to the building programme. We in this country always say that money is short. That is always a wonderful excuse for everything. Nevertheless, the fact remains that we are far behind every other country in our building since the war; and prisons are no exception. Paragraph 86 is really a disgrace. May I have your Lordships' permission to read it? It says:In the first place, as has been shown, the existing buildings do not provide enough room for those who are now being sent for training. Even if there were removed from the local prisons all the untried prisoners and the 2,000 men, now unsuitably housed there, who are serving sentences of over three years, on the present level of committals 1,500 men would still have to sleep three in a cell. This fact illustrates a degree of overcrowding which cannot be tolerated and which makes effective classification and training quite impracticable.Having read that, we go on to paragraph 94, two lines of which say:Even if the programme was complete today there would still he over 1,500 men sleeping three in a cell in local prisons.We just cannot tolerate that any longer. I cannot believe that anyone can now say. particularly after yesterday's Budget, that we are living in a time of financial stringency. Even if all these things were done immediately they would be infinitesimal compared to a great number of other things that are being done to-day. Every prisoner costs a great deal of money. If the capital were now spent on putting up these buildings, and doing so 428 quickly, I believe that we should find that before long the Government would save very much more money than they would be spending.
Now, in conclusion, I go back to the beginning of the White Paper. It is a shocking thing that we live in a time when, although material benefits have never been higher for the family in this country, crime also has never been higher. We cannot merely hope for a solution, for it will not just come. Her Majesty's Government have at last shown determination that something is going to be done. It is up to us to encourage them in the one way we can, by going on asking questions and having these debates, to see that these first steps to alleviate such a tragic condition are completed at the earliest possible moment.
§ 4.29 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER
My Lords, I cannot but regard the action of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, in putting down this Motion as a deliberate provocation. It is inevitable that it will draw from these Episcopal Benches speeches which, if not technically sermons, will, by the tedium they will cause and by the moral platitudes they will contain, amount to very much the same thing. But, after all, to put down a Motion calling attention to crime in the country at the present time is to dangle before the pursed lips and quivering nostrils of the Bishops an irresistible bait; and I, for my part, have not tried very hard to resist it, though I will try to be brief.
It is, of course, a matter of profound disappointment to all of us that the figures for crime now are so tremendously higher than those which obtained twenty years ago in the years before the war. We had all assumed, and assumed rightly, that there is a close connection between poverty and ignorance, on the one hand, and crime, on the other. How is it, then. that we have this disappointing result? It may be because, along with our assumption, there is also another secret and tacit assumption that man can, after all, live by bread alone; and we are now learning yet once again that he cannot; that there must be higher ideals in life than simply security and a rising standard of living. We are learning also, I think, that our present state of society is dreadfully acquisitive. The worship of Mammon seems to me to be sometimes more blatant 429 than ever. We see evidence of it in the fantastic size of football pools and football pools' business; we see it in the fantastic earnings of television and film stars. We see an almost desperate adoration of great wealth and ostentatious luxury. And I think that underlying this wave of crime, as its main cause, lies sheer, naked greed.
My Lords, the White Paper tells us that sexual offences and violent offences against the person also show a disturbingly large increase. Perhaps I might say a word about those two things. In the matter of sexual offences one has to remember that modern society imposes virtually no restrictions at all upon the meetings of the two sexes together; that there are, in consequence, a far greater number of opportunities for sexual indulgence and sexual violence than there were fifty years ago. To that one must add that persons with naturally strong sexual impulses are submitted almost continuously to sexual stimulation and excitement by the advertisements they read; by the screen; by the stage; by novels, and by television. They are living in an all-pervading atmosphere of emphasis upon sex. It is therefore not surprising that if they have naturally strong sexual impulses they find it very hard to control them.
The young man and the young woman meet together and walk together, are left alone together over long periods; and it is very common that they permit with each other behaviour which is designed to raise to the highest possible pitch their sexual excitements and passions. When that happens it may be that the girl feels that things have gone too far; and as a matter of fact they have gone too far, so far as the man is concerned; and he is now under a practically ungovernable impulse, and an offence of violence occurs. I do not wish to trail a red flag in front of the Judges, but I myself would say they are clearly suffering from diminished responsibility, responsible indeed for having created the situation which exists, but a diminished responsibility because in that situation control is virtually gone.
But, however that may be, society itself must take some share of the blame because we have not understood that the more you give people freedom of social convention governing the relations of the sexes with one another, the more you withdraw all restrictions, the more important 430 it is that you make sure that both the sexes are armed and protected with the virtue of chastity. It is desperately unfair to allow these young people to get into the positions they do with the full approbation of society, and not at the same time do everything that is possible to protect them, by inculcating into them a real love and appreciation of the virtue of chastity.
In this matter I am bound to say that the churches are by no means without blame. But when the churches do talk about chastity they so often talk in purely negative terms, and express the virtue in a series of prohibitions, that it is scarcely surprising that, with the young people, it appears a very dreary and inhibiting thing, instead of the lovely, positive thing of beauty which it actually is—the only right preparation for marriage, and, within marriage, the jewel and protection. In the old days, the virtue of chastity was known to be a romantic thing intimately connected with respect for the beauty of the human body and with a longing for a lifelong, all-consuming, romantic passion. My Lords, I think we cannot really expect a great diminution in the number of these deplorable sexual offences until chastity comes to be held in far higher public esteem. I suppose that at the moment it has never been held in lower public esteem since the reign of Charles II. That is something for which society itself must take the blame.
Then we come to the offences of violence against the person. It is astounding when one reads from time to time how young persons in the very first flush of their manhood can go in groups of twos and threes and batter old ladies to death in their flats or over their shops in order to get their savings. It seems quite astonishing that anything of the kind could conceivably happen; that anything of the kind could possibly be done by any of the younger members of the generation of the people to whom we are proud to belong.
One searches for the cause. I have no solution to put before your Lordships, but I cannot help feeling that perhaps the cause which enables these young people to have resort so easily to such brutal violence is that in their earlier childhood they were never given a strong and firm moral discipline. "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is an ancient saying, and it may be that we are reaping the bitter 431 fruits of a neglect of it—not, of course, that it need necessarily be literally a rod. But young children whose moral sense and education is just beginning do require a certain element of firm discipline; they do require a certain system of rewards and punishments in order to direct them firmly along the right way. And I suspect that it is a lack of these in their earlier years which lies at the bottom of these terrible crimes. Since the figures tell us, apparently, that the younger age groups now show a less criminal tendency, it may be that the younger parents are being wise enough to give to their children a better education, because it is a more disciplined education than they themselves received.
But in our complicated social life even the best of parents cannot, I think, by themselves, give adequate moral education to their children. It requires a very close co-operation between the parents and the schools. I know very well that what I am about to say is a gross slander on many schools, and a gross slander on many admirable school teachers; but in a debate like this one must generalise, and I would make this generalisation: there is a widespread impression, at least, that in the local authority school, and especially the secondary school, the teachers lay far too little emphasis upon the moral education of their children, and are apt to confine their duties to what goes on in the classroom. I know, of course, that teachers are at the moment faced with great difficulties and handicaps: there are not enough of them: there are not enough classrooms; and classes are too large. Nevertheless, I think it may be true that, by and large, they under-estimate their responsibility towards the moral education of the children. Even despite their handicaps, I think that a great deal can be done even now.
A month or two back I was giving away prizes at a secondary modern school where, under a splendid headmaster, supported by a really remarkable body of teachers, great emphasis and effort had been laid during the last three or four years on the moral behaviour of the children, and where, in particular, great efforts had been made to teach the children to have a pride in their own school—though it was the best school in the town by a long way. It was the best school in the town because it was attended by the best children; and it was laid as a duty upon 432 all the children not to do anything to spoil that reputation.
Certainly the children that I saw (though it would be a gross slander on a tough bunch of "devils" to say that they were tidy) were at least clean; and although their behaviour was not quiet, it was decent and considerate and charitable. The headmaster told me that not one of the pupils of that school had been before a children's court during the last three years, and that that was something which no other school in the town could claim. It shows, therefore, that, even now, something can be done—more than is being done—for the moral education of the children, to give them a concern for their lives and behaviour outside school as much as in the classroom. I believe that if we could get a contented body of teachers, paid a salary (as I think at the moment they are not) properly proportionate to their standing and status in society and to the importance of the work which they perform; and that if, balancing that, the teachers themselves were filled with a deep sense of vocation and duty to guide and develop not only the minds but the lives and characters of all the pupils under their charge, then we should see the figures of crimes committed by young people between the ages of 14 and 21 falling very steeply.
My Lords, I will not detain you much longer, but I should like to say just one word about the treatment of offenders. I should like to endorse wholeheartedly the praise which has been lavished upon the Home Office White Paper. It is indeed, I think, a most enlightened document, and it should fill all of us with great hope that at last penal reform in a big way is beginning. In particular, I should like to draw attention to the emphasis laid upon the detention centres, which I regard as important because it will mean that first offenders will no longer go to local prisons. Secondly, I should like to draw attention to the proposals about Borstal training, that there should be an indeterminate sentence of not more than two years, which would be longer or shorter according to the degree of co-operation shown by the offender with authority in the business of his self-rehabilitation and reform. That appears to be based on an absolutely sound principle: to make the punishment fit, not the crime, but the criminal, which seems to me to be absolutely right. Thirdly, I am glad indeed 433 that the White Paper treats so sympathetically the suggestion of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders, that the area of compulsory statutory after-care should be greatly enlarged. I think that those three proposals would in themselves mark a tremendous advance and would bring about a tremendous improvement in our present-day state of affairs.
Before I sit down I should like to draw attention to paragraphs 48 and 49 of the White Paper, which mention the figures of those who, whether first offenders or not, have not returned to prison in the last three or four years. To my mind, the figures are astonishingly high when we consider that nearly all these sentences were served in local prisons, in the worst possible conditions. It seems to me a quite wonderful tribute to the work of the existing prison officers, and they deserve every encouragement and gratitude and congratulation from us on that work. Of course, these figures should give no ground for complacency: they should only increase our determination to get rid of the present local prisons, or at any rate to alter them radically from top to bottom. The only complaint I have about the White Paper—and it is not made in any spirit of criticism of the Home Office, or in any sense of ingratitude—is that, even so, the tempo of this White Paper is not nearly fast enough.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ LORD NATHAN
My Lords, for reasons which will become apparent during the short time that I shall delay your Lordships, it is right that I should say that on this occasion I speak not on behalf of my noble friends on these Benches but in my own individual capacity. My noble friend Lord Pakenham, in opening this debate, has given us—to great public advantage, I believe—the results of long and profound reflection upon the whole problem of crime; and the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, though not moving his Motion, has again reminded us of the long and devoted interest which, as Home Secretary, he took in the whole problem of penal reform.
For my part, I propose in my few observations to confine myself to a single, quite limited, but, I believe, crucial purpose; and I am given the lead in that to-day by what has just been said by the 434 right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter. I propose to limit myself to the question of the establishment of an Institute of Criminology. I believe that such an Institute may well have a powerful contribution to make towards the understanding, and thus the solution, of some, at least, of the problems of crime. It is a striking fact that, although institutes of criminology exist in other countries, there is no such institute here; nor is there in this country a separate university qualification in this subject, as there should be. There are Readerships in Oxford and in London. In Cambridge, as my noble friend Lord Pakenham mentioned, there is a Department of Criminal Science in the Faculty of Law.
There is an urgent need for an Institute of Criminology, with a staff recruited from the various disciplines concerned, such as law, education, sociology, medicine, social psychology and psychiatry. Cambridge seems to be the most suitable university for such an Institute, and if money is forthcoming, I believe that Cambridge is ready to accept the responsibility.
The function of such an Institute might be to carry out research, to provide facilities for the teaching of criminology at post-graduate level and to maintain close contact, by the organisation of conferences and short courses, with those concerned in the practical administration of the criminal law, such as magistrates and their clerks, senior officers of the Police Service, the Prison Service, the Probation Service and the Children's Service. Such an Institute would be concerned with such problems as trends in crime, the treatment of offenders, the medical and social aspects of criminal behaviour, the administration and enforcement of criminal law and the reform both of the substantive criminal law and of criminal procedure. The Institute might also keep under review the result of criminological research, as well as developments in penology, both in this country and abroad. It would become a centre of information in criminological matters.
An essential need is to train academic teachers, qualified not only to pursue research at a high level but also to conduct courses in criminology, such as already exist at some universities in the United Kingdom. I understand that the 435 University of Cambridge would contemplate the establishment of a postgraduate course of study leading to a diploma in criminology. Apparently there is at present no adequate criminological library in this country. The establishment of such a library should be a principal concern of such an Institute.
"Crime", stated Mr. Justice Felix Frankfurter, of the Supreme Court of the United States, "must he subjected to that systematic, disciplined, continuous attack of reason, which we call scientific procedure." The armoury for such au attack might well be provided by an Institute of Criminology. The importance and need of such an Institute received powerful reinforcement from Mr. Butler, the Home Secretary, whose long and close interest in all that concerns the cause, treatment, prevention and ultimate eradication of crime, is well known. On July 31 of last year, in another place, he made a statement warmly welcoming the proposal, expressing his confidence that its fulfilment would make an indispensable contribution to the study of the problems of crime and the treatment of offenders.
Now is a conjunction of time and circumstances, which is the reason why I said that on this occasion I speak in an individual capacity. At the beginning of January of this year, Mr. Butler wrote a letter to me, as Chairman of the Isaac Wolfson Foundation, drawing attention to that statement and inviting the interest of the Foundation—set up about four years ago by Mr. Isaac Wolfson—of which I have been Chairman from the outset. Parenthetically, but for propriety's sake, and in compliance with the established practice of your Lordships' House, although I can scarcely think it stretches so far, I think that perhaps I should disclose my interest by informing your Lordships that, in addition to being Chairman, I have been throughout honorary solicitor to the Foundation. Indeed, that is my own personal contribution to the resources of this charitable foundation, of whose material resources no part has come from me.
The Trustees over whom I preside are, in addition to Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Wolfson and their son, Mr. Leonard Wolfson, two Members of your Lordships' House—the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, who I believe 436 is to follow me in this debate, and the noble Lord, Lord Evans. The others are Sir Stanford Cade, surgeon to the Westminster Hospital, and Professor Arthur Goodhart, Master of University College, Oxford. On my bringing before my co-Trustees at our meeting in February, this project for an Institute of Criminology, they took a sympathetic and affirmative view and entrusted me with the task of conferring with Mr. Butler and the University authorities at Cambridge on how practical expression might best be given to it.
After a full discussion with Mr. Butler, I arranged to see in Cambridge the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, in his capacity of Vice-Chancellor of the University. In due course, I conferred there with those principally concerned, and afterwards with the noble Lord, Lord Adrian. We reached agreement very easily. It is perhaps convenient to add that on January 27, 1959, the Senate of the University of Cambridge formally approved the establishment of an Institute. Following my discussions in Cambridge, and with the unanimous concurrence of my co-Trustees, I wrote a few days ago to Mr. Butler, and to the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, as Vice-Chancellor, offering, on behalf of the Wolfson Foundation, the sum of £150,000, the amount which had been suggested, in order to found a Chair of Criminology and a Readership or Lectureship. This, it is thought, would absorb an amount of the order of £100,000, leaving a balance of £50,000 for the acquisition of a special building, which I understand to be contemplated, or for other purposes of the Institute, including perhaps the much-needed library to which I have already referred.
I feel sure that your Lordships will share the hope of the Wolfson Trustees that the Institute may by this means be established on a firm, durable and appropriate basis, and may become a centre of teaching and research and a focus for ideas and action which may make a useful and continuing contribution to the solution of the problems of crime in all their varied aspects.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD BIRKETT
My Lords, I must ask for the kind indulgence of your Lordships for a short time while I intervene in this most interesting, instructive and important debate. The right reverend 437 Prelate, the Bishop of Exeter, in the speech to which we all listened with such interest, spoke of the initiative of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, in tabling this Motion; and I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Lord not merely for the tabling of the Motion but for the presentation of the subject here this afternoon. He certainly provided so many topics that every subsequent speaker can find something at least to speak about. I, for my part, intended to rise primarily for the purpose of commending to your Lordships the proposal for the foundation of the Institute of Criminology in the University of Cambridge, but I suppose it is not the first time in this House that a maiden speech, so carefully prepared, has been delivered by a previous speaker. I must therefore fall back on such resources as I have, and, as I have said, the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, introduced so many topics that one cannot fail, at least for want of material. I have always understood that a maiden speech should have at least two qualities: that it should be non-controversial; and, above all, that it should be brief—and the identification of being brief, I think, might extend to all speeches, maiden or otherwise.
I feel that I ought to declare an interest in the foundation of the Institute of Criminology—that is to say, an interest in the University of Cambridge—and I will not follow the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, into any discussion of the University of Oxford. I think that the more prosaic reason why Cambridge has been selected for the foundation of this Institute is the fact that there was already there the Department of Criminal Science, which for many years has been doing most valuable pioneer work on many of the subjects that we are discussing this afternoon. Any of your Lordships who has had the opportunity of looking at some of the publications which have come from that Department, such as Mental Abnormality and Crime, will be convinced of the immense value not merely of the Department of Criminal Science but of the Institute of Criminology of which that Department will in due course form a part. While I fully and cordially endorse everything that has been said about the quality of the White Paper, I think that the one feature in it above all others worthy of commendation is this 438 wise, far-seeing proposal to found the Institute of Criminology. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Nathan for relieving me of any trouble about speaking of the technical details of the foundation of the Institute, and I can perhaps confine myself to two points: first, the immense value of research; and secondly, and equally important, as I think, the formation of the right, educated public opinion on which penal reform and the administration of the criminal law so much depend.
It is well that it should be said in this House how much we are indebted to the vision of the present occupant of the position of Secretary of State for Home Affairs. The speech which was delivered here by the noble Viscount, Lord Temple-wood, the presence on the Woolsack of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, and the presence in his place (I am so glad to see) of my noble friend Lord Samuel, whose work in this field is beyond all praise, make me feel that this country has every reason to be proud of the long succession of distinguished men who have held the office of Home Secretary. When I had the privilege—and that is no conventional word; it was a privilege—to be the Chairman of the Home Office Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders, I was brought into the closest contact with Mr. Morrison and Mr. Chuter Ede, and, as I say, I think the country is indebted to a long line of noble-minded and dedicated men. It was, I think, Clarendon who said in the great Rebellion, when he saw Cromwell exercising the office of Lord Protector with such distinction, that he seemed to have concealed faculties until he had occasion to use them, which I suppose was Clarendon's way of saying that the office brought out the best qualities of the man; and certainly that could be said of the Home Office.
The particular proposal for the foundation of this Institute is a matter, as described by the Home Secretary himself, indispensable to any discussion of the treatment of crime or the treatment of offenders; but I would add that I think it can be quite revolutionary in its purposes and in its effect. I do not know whether it is the presence of my noble friend Lord Samuel in his place that brings it to my mind, but when the Home Secretary 439 of the day instituted the Gladstone Committee, who reported in 1895 and whose findings subsequent Governments followed with such detail, that was indeed a revolution; and I think that the foundation of this Institute may be akin to it. Your Lordships may know that only a few years before the Departmental Committee of 1895, the Chief Justice of this country, a most notable forensic figure, Chief Justice Cockburn, presented a memorandum to a Royal Commission which was then sitting on the question of penal servitude, and in the course of it the highest figure on the King's Bench side at the time scouted the idea of reformation in punishment. He said that it was too precarious; it could not last; and the real foundation of criminal law should be the infliction of suffering as a punishment for the offence and the inculcation of fear in the offender that it would be repeated. It is to the eternal credit of the Gladstone Committee that, within a few years after that, they nobly and boldly stated those facts, one of which, incidentally, was quoted verbatim by the right reverend Prelate: that you should make the crime fit the criminal, and that there was room not merely for social security but for individual reformation in the penal law.
The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, who spoke so eloquently about prisons and the necessity of prison reform, will remember that it was the Gladstone Committee of 1895 who, for the first time, said that there should be an absolute review of all our prisons; that we should get rid of your solitary confinement that we should make prison a place from which a man should come out better than he went in, and that we should make it a place that might appeal to his moral qualities and to his higher susceptibilities; and in many other ways laid the foundation for many of the matters that we are discussing today. When Mr. Chuter Ede in 1948 introduced the Criminal Justice Bill of that year, it was virtually merely putting the crown upon the work which had been begun so long before; and it may well be that my reference to it, and the work of that Committee so long ago, points the moral of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham: that we have indeed been very much at fault and much in error in leaving prisons in the state in which they are, and that it is the most hopeful thing in the world that in this White Paper 440 there is this new spirit which I think might bring about a change akin to the change of 1895.
I must conform to my principle of brevity, but I should like to say this: for over forty years now I have been associated in one capacity or another with the administration of the criminal law, first of all as a practitioner in the courts, and in my very early days mostly in the magistrates' courts. As your Lordships know, there the bulk of the criminal work of this country is conducted, a fact which ought never to be overlooked. It is the court in which the ordinary member of the public is most likely to come into contact with the law, and the necessity for the right type of magistrate and the right type of education to be given to the magistrate is all important. I am glad to think that in my early days I had a very wide and prolonged acquaintance with the work of the magistrates' courts.
Then I became in due course a Judge of Assize, and have been for many years a Judge of Quarter Sessions. I know—and I want to relate this to the Institute of Criminology—that there is a feeling that Judges are averse to penal reform. I think it is largely a legacy from the past. As your Lordships know, there was a time when William Pitt and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Loughborough, publicly announced that there should be no reform of the criminal law unless it originated from the Judges or, alternatively, the proposal had been considered by the Judges and approved by them. When Sir Samuel Romilly, in the early part of the nineteenth century, began his noble work of reform and introduced his three Bills—one of which was to abolish the death penalty for stealing 40s. in a house, or the death penalty for stealing 5s. worth of goods in a shop it was defeated in this House, although it had passed the other place, by Lord Eldon, the Lord Chancellor, and Lord Ellen-borough, the Lord Chief Justice, rising in their places and saying on behalf of all the Judges that that humane proposal, as we now think it, would simply demoralise the structure of society and forthwith ought to be defeated—as it was, with the assistance of many of the right reverend Prelates.
I wanted to say that for this reason. This Institute of Criminology, if it is to do any good at all, must win the cooperation of every kind of worker in the 441 field of criminal administration or of penal reform. The Judiciary, the Executive, the medical profession, the psychiatrists, the social psychologists, the Prison Commissioners, the probation officers, must all be brought into the great work which the Institute can do. The modern Judges of this country—I am now in a position to speak quite freely, whereas a few years ago I should not have been able to do so—are concerned with the administration of the law in a just and humane way, and I think it is of the utmost importance that they, too, should co-operate in the fullest way with the methods of research to be instituted by the Institute referred to by the noble Lord.
I hope I may be forgiven for saying that, because I think it is important. Judges of the present day at least can say—and I speak here with personal knowledge—that they have brought the administration of our criminal law to such a standard that in all the English-speaking communities of the world, and in many communities which do not speak our tongue, the administration of British justice is the admiration of the world. Therefore, I think the Institute starts off well.
I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, will forgive me for saying that I disagree with him, and disagree very strongly, when he says that it will be many years before the fruits of the research of the Institute will be made manifest in practical proposals. I do not think so. There are, of course, many matters which do not need any further research and which ought to be dealt with as urgent matters at once—notably the question of after-care. It is the most lamentable and pathetic thing to sit in the seat of justice and to see reappearing in the clock some wretched man who, on his discharge from prison from a previous sentence, tried hard to do the right thing, but, because of the situation in which he was placed, fell once more into crime, with the result that there he was again. And the sorry tale goes on. Nothing, in my judgment, is more urgent than reconsideration of the whole question of how to deal with the discharged offender. If I had had the time I should have liked to endorse many of the points made by the noble Lord; but there are one or two things which can be carried out by the Institute at once. The White Paper 442 speaks of the possibility of including in the concept of punishment the idea of prisoner reparation. I think that is wholly good, but it needs a little research of the right kind to be done quickly, and then to be put into operation.
Many of your Lordships know that under Section 11 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, if a court makes an order putting a prisoner on probation, or an order for conditional discharge or absolute discharge, it has power, in addition to awarding costs, to award a sum by way of compensation or damages. I have found in practice that it is the most splendid idea. Suppose that a person is charged with stealing—it may be the first offence. You do not want to send the person to prison, but the person from whom the money has been stolen is a poor woman who cannot afford the loss. You say to the prisoner, "You shall be forgiven", and the woman goes away saying, "That cannot be justice, to lose all my money." But if the judge can say "I shall make an order for probation, which means that I keep control, because if you offend again you will be punished for this offence", and, at the same time, tell the man, "You shall pay by way of compensation a sum of money" (the amount is limited to £100) it will be found that public opinion, which is exceedingly important in the conduct of the administration of justice, is met.
I should think that fulfilment of the proposal mentioned in the White Paper (I think the proposal originated with Miss Fry, with whom I was privileged to work for so many years), of making compensation for those who suffer physical injury from assault could be done simply by an amendment of the National Insurance (Personal Injuries) Act. With regard to the larger question of whether a court could order restitution for theft, burglary or robbery, that would be a matter for further research by the Institute of Criminology.
It is a most lamentable thing that at this time crime was never higher, that all the remedial and redemptive agencies were never better, and that the question of punishment was never more reasonable. I will not suggest by a sentence that we should alter that policy, but when it is said that there are in prison people who ought not to be there, I begin to be a little sceptical—for this reason. Out of every four persons under the age 443 of 21 who are convicted on indictment of an indictable offence, one is put upon probation; and out of every 100 people convicted on indictment, from 21 and below that age, one or two only go to prison; sixty-five go to probation; twenty are fined, and the remainder go to remand homes, detention centres or approved schools and the like. I am not suggesting for a single moment that there should be severer sentences, except to say this: that there are occasions—we have had evidence of it in the immediate past—where proper severity, at the proper time, at the appropriate place, can be a most marvellous instrument in dealing with certain forms of crime.
I come to the last thing I want to say on this point. When we find the public mind greatly exercised, with people calling out for severer penalties, some calling for the reinstitution of flogging, it is well to remember that nearly every deterrent element has gone from our system of punishment. I will not discuss capital punishment. The Homicide Act of 1957 was a clear compromise. In my own opinion the day will come when capital punishment will go altogether. flogging, corporal punishment, has entirely gone since the Departmental Committee recommended that it should be so. The only thing left is a severe sentence of imprisonment. The Acts of Parliament give Judges proper power to impose penalties, but out of 10,000 sentences of imprisonment imposed last year on people convicted upon indictment only 800 were sentences of four years or more. It is, therefore, a very lamentable thing that there should be in the public mind this feeling that we must go back to severer methods; and it is on such a matter that the new Institute of Criminology can, I think, render a great public service, by satisfying the public mind; because I am satisfied, quite satisfied, that we can never prevent crime or repress crime by severity alone. The eighteenth century demonstrated it. The death penalty was as common then as a magistrate's imposing a fine of 40s. to-day, and yet people cried out for severer punishment. Women were burned alive at the stake and they still cried out for severer punishment, and crime persisted. I do not think that if you send somebody to prison that, of itself, however severe the sentence, is 444 going to do much in the way of reformation.
My Lords, let me end with this quotation—probably it is a reward to your Lordships for listening to me so kindly and patiently. Fifty years ago a youthful Home Secretary, Mr. Winston Churchill, with that distinction of language which has always characterised him and which, as we well know, proved of vital service to us at the time of our great jeopardy, said this—and though I do not particularly like the title of Institute of Criminology I think this quotation might well be written on the wall:The mood and temper of the public with regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of any country. A calm, dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused; a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment; a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry those who have paid their due in the hard coinage of punishment; tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerative processes; unfailing faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man these are the symbols which, in the treatment of crime and criminal, mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation and are sign and proof of the living virtue in it.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, it is my first, very pleasant, duty to express to the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, on behalf of all your Lordships our congratulations for that admirable speech and our high hopes that we shall hear him often again. It gives me particular pleasure, not only because he is a very old friend of mine but because in the past this House has been singularly fortunate in the acquisition of the great forensic orators of the time. We go back to Erskine, to Russell, to Carson, to Isaacs, and now we have gained among our numbers one of the greatest forensic orators of the twentieth century, and I tell him again we want often to have the advantage of hearing him.
Like everyone, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, for introducing this debate, and I am also most grateful to him and to other noble Lords for being good enough to let me know the line that they would follow in their speeches. I shall try to deal with the points which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has raised, and I ask the forbearance of your Lordships if, as I think 445 you would expect, that is bound to take a certain amount of time.
Before we come to those special points, may I follow my noble friend, Lord Templewood, in saying one or two matters in general approach to the subject, because crime, its prevention and treatment, is essentially and pre-eminently a social problem, and before I speak of the Government's plans for dealing with it I want to set it out in its wider context. There is no doubt virtual unanimity, except among those who live by crime, in the opinion that crime has increased, is increasing and should be diminished. Bat the problem cannot—and I repeat this—the problem cannot simply be handed over to the Government to be solved by administrative or by legislative measures. It is one which affects society as a whole, not merely because society suffers in the persons and the purses of its members from the activities of criminals, but because society has a responsibility, corporate and individual, not merely for dealing with the problem of the treatment of the criminal after he has declared himself, but for dealing with the more difficult problem of preventing him from becoming a criminal in the first place.
I was glad that my noble friend, Lord Templewood, emphasised that side to-day and also emphasised that the provision of housing, education, health services and employment may reduce the adverse circumstances in which weak and inadequate characters readily fall into crime but, as we have seen only too clearly, that these things cannot in themselves overcome crime. They cannot foster either the individual strength of character or the social elements which will be resistant to the growth of crime. In this sphere responsibility rests on the individual as a parent, a householder, a workman or an employer. The responsibility for bringing up children in a stable home with decent standards of conduct, which the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter stressed, is one; and another is for maintaining integrity in our dealings with others. Another responsibility which we are apt to forget—as I found when I was in charge of the police, and I am sure noble Lords who have been in that position will have had the same experience as I—the responsibility for refraining from putting opportunities for dishonesty in the way of those who are open 446 to temptation; and the responsibility, perhaps, as the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, emphasised, for giving an ex-prisoner a chance of re-establishing himself in employment and in the society of his fellows; and even—and here again I speak of a real problem that I have had to face—the responsibility for accepting the establishment of an open prison near one's own home.
It was in recognition of the fact that both the causes of crime and, to a considerable extent, the problem of helping a criminal to go straight when he has served his sentence lie outside the sphere which the Government can reach by direct action, that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary called a meeting in February of, first, the leaders of the churches and the various voluntary organisations, and secondly, the trade unions and the employers, to discuss the problem of the causes of crime, with particular reference to the incidence of crime among the young. I understand that the discussion was a fruitful one, and my right honourable friend is considering what more can be done to study these problems and to bring to bear upon them the resources not only of the Government but of the great organisations which mobilise and express the spirit of voluntary service and endeavour in this country. I am glad that another right reverend Prelate is going to follow me and I hope that we shall hear more from him on this particular aspect of the matter.
Now for what the Government itself can do by its own action. It seemed to me, as I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, that, uncommonly for him, he did not show his usual generosity in his references to the Government's programme, in spite of his altruistic intention to help the content of my speech. His speech did not reflect, except in the most general way, the fact that the Government has laid down in the White Paper a programme of major importance for the future—a programme which is designed, so far as forethought can take it, to meet the problems with which crime confronts us and to which the noble Lord has given so much attention. After all, this programme covers the whole range of the problem of crime from the stimulation of researches into the causes and the treatment of crime to concrete proposals in terms of bricks and mortar for 447 providing institutions suitable to the carrying out of the new methods which are being developed. It is fair to say that it not merely charts the ends, but plans the means. It is the first time for a generation, as the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, pointed out, that anything of this sort has been published, and I think that the Government can fairly claim credit—I do not want to put it an iota too high—for applying vision and initiative in a field which has too often been ignored.
The White Paper indicates what has already been done and shows the fruits of some of the creative thinking which has taken place over the last two or three years. It contains proposals which would involve legislation for adjusting the treatment of young offenders in the light of the growing volume of crime committed by young people, and for increasing the scope of statutory after-care for adults. It indicates that inquiry is going on into such important features of the new measures introduced in 1948 as preventive detention. It indicates the importance which the Government attaches to the working out of improved methods of classification and of training; and through that it goes to the provision of better buildings and of a staff sufficient both in numbers and in quality for the forward-looking reformative type of work which they are increasingly being required to perform.
My noble and learned friend Lord Birkett referred to the Gladstone Report of 1895. That was issued just over sixty years ago. One aspect of that is that it is only just over sixty years ago—it is in the very year, if my memory is correct. when my noble friend Lord Samuel first stood for Parliament—that this country awoke to that change of mind and moved from deterrence as the accepted principle to the introduction of the principle of reformation. Sixty years is, shall we say, a long or a short time, but it has left us —and that is part of the problem that iny right honourable friend is dealing with to-day with these prisons, stated with complete candour in the White Paper to have been built in the deterrent period for the purposes of deterrence which are set out there. That is, I think, not an unremarkable aspect of our problem. It is no excuse, but it is an aspect of the 448 problem which I think fair-minded people would keep in mind.
It is when we come to the particular features of the problem to which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, referred, that we find ourselves overwhelmed by the effects of the present flood of crime. I shall indicate in a moment how we are dealing with this, but first I want to say a few words about the amount and character of the crime with which we are faced. As the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, indicated, the picture which the figures present is of an increase in the amount of indictable crime by about one half between the beginning and the end of the war, followed in the subsequent fourteen years by large and unexplained fluctuations, which brought the amount of indictable crime by the end of 1957 to a level about one-seventh above that of 1945. It is fair to say that the disturbing fact is not so much the periodic steep increases in crime, which have been followed by equally steep, though less publicised, decreases, as the fact that the ground lost during the war has never been recovered.
We have also been disquieted, as the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter showed in his speech to-day, by the persistent increase in crimes of violence against the person, and sexual offences, though I am glad to say that the figures for the first three-quarters of 1958 show, almost for the first time since the war, a decrease in the number of sexual offences known to the police. But I should like just to say a word or two about crimes of violence, because I do not think that even the right reverend Prelate had the figures fully or completely in his mind. Offences of violence and sexual offences account, as the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, reminded us, for only 30,000 out of well over half-a-million crimes known to the police. Comparative smallness does not deal with a positive large figure, but the recent studies have shown that the crimes of violence consist largely of offences arising out of brawls or family disputes, resulting in relatively minor injury, very often inflicted with the fists. Perhaps your Lordships will bear with just three figures: first, 85 per cent. of the crimes of violence are woundings; and of these, in turn, 90 per cent., composing (if my arithmetic is right) 76 per cent. of the total crimes of violence, are of the non-serious kind, while only 9 per 449 cent. of the crimes of violence are those associated with robbery and serious incidents of that kind—which was clearly what the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter had in mind when he was making his speech. I feel that it is right in a sombre picture at any rate not to ignore the lighter aspects.
What we have to face—and here again we come to the approach of my noble friend Lord Templewood—is the fact that the great bulk of crimes consist of the offences of dishonesty, and here again I would stress what at first sight may seem to your Lordships a small point, which I have mentioned before. I believe that the ordinary household can help by reducing the opportunities, because that is not only a matter of self-interest but also, I believe, a matter of social responsibility. As the White Paper indicates, Her Majesty's Government recognise that the small minority of offences against the person which result in serious injury may cause most grievous suffering, and my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has appointed a Working Panty of officials to study the problems which would be involved in compensating victims of these offences, on the analogy of payments made to victims of industrial injury. I shall convey to my right honourable friend the slightly different approach to that matter made in his speech by my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett.
My noble friend Lord Templewood has drawn attention to the problem of the young offender, and the increase in crime among juveniles and young adults is a feature of the post-war trends in crime which must give rise to great anxiety. I should like to tell him at once that that is a problem about which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has been particularly concerned, and I hope that my noble friend Lord Templewood will acquit me of any discourtesy if I do not at the moment go into the juvenile problem. I am most anxious to deal with the problems of treatment which have been raised, but I assure him that my noble friend Lord Chesham will deal with that point.
There is just one other point which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, mentioned—the question of offensive weapons. If he will do a little research into my legislative record, he will find that, either in 1952 or 1953, I introduced a Bill, which 450 passed through both Houses, making it a criminal offence to carry an offensive weapon. I shall certainly convey to my right honourable friend the views which the noble Lord expressed with regard to Mr. Janner's Bill, and I shall also convey, with my own sympathy, his suggestion as to the encouragement of voluntary societies, which he mentioned on that point.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, may I now come to research? I want to come to that as the first of the particular features of the problem with which Her Majesty's Government have come to grips. Obviously, as the noble Lords, Lord Nathan and Lord Birkett, have pointed out so clearly, we want to make progress in understanding the nature of our problem and also studying the effects of the measures we take to deal with it. Hence the great importance which we attach to research. Again, with all respect, and with no ill-feeling. I assure him, the noble Lord. Lord Pakenham, seemed to me to be underrating what has been done and is being done. Progress cannot be measured simply in terms of the amount of Government money which is being spent. though even that has increased five-fold over the amounts being spent two years ago.
Noble Lords who have studied the Appendix to the White Paper will have seen what a wide-ranging programme of research is being undertaken, first by the Research Unit set up by my right honourable friends the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland; secondly, by a number of universities and other bodies, with financial assistance from Her Majesty's Government; and thirdly, by others without financial assists ante but often in association with the Home Office or the Prison Commission. My right honourable friend has been particularly concerned in the plans which have been made, and which are nova happily coming to fruition, for the creation of an Institute of Criminology at Cambridge, of which we have heard from the noble Lords, Lord Nathan and Lord Birkett.
I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Nathan. that we welcome the munificent grant which has been made 451 by the Wolfson Trustees for the creation of a Chair and Readership in Criminology and I should like to take this opportunity of thanking him as Chairman of the Trustees, and (perhaps he will not think it improper), through him, of thanking Mr. Isaac Wolfson himself. There are two very good reasons for that. One is that I have honour to number Mr. Isaac Wolfson among my friends; and secondly, as the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, knows so well, I have the honour to represent your Lordships as Vice-Patron of the Westminster Hospital; and that hospital, also, is deeply grateful for Mr. Isaac Wolfson's munificent help. For those reasons, therefore, apart from the subject with which I am dealing, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, will convey not only the thanks of Her Majesty's Government but my personal gratitude for what has been done.
I am glad to be able to say that Her Majesty's Government have decided, on the advice of the University Grants Committee, to support the development of criminological studies in the University of Cambridge by making a grant over the next three years. We are also grateful to the University itself which has provided the opportunity for this important development. I believe that if the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, thinks over what was said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, and what I am now about to say on this point, he need not be so pessimistic about the results from the Institute, because not only will the Institute create valuable research work itself by its teaching of criminology; it will also stimulate activities in this field by other universities. That is sure. It will also provide a much-needed source of able young research workers and will help those who are already working in various capacities in the field to a greater understanding of their problems and the problems of their fellow workers. My Lords, these various developments which have been initiated in the last two years have (I do not think it is too much to say this) brought about a revolution in our outlook in research and in the prospects of future development in this field. It is a stride forward of great importance to the future.
I now want to turn to what the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, described as the prison situation. Here the noble Lord referred in particular to the problems of 452 overcrowding, understaffing and shortage of work; and again did so, as he told us, and as he was perfectly entitled to do—I make no complaint—in terms which paid little attention to what has been done and laid much more emphasis on what has not. He certainly referred to the fact that since our last debate the prison population had increased by over 2,000; but in the way he put it (and I assure him I make no complaint) he did not, I think, make sufficiently clear that this extraordinary increase had overtaken the progress that was being made in all these matters. We have, indeed, my Lords, been in the position of having to run very fast indeed to stay where we are. Noble Lords will, I hope, be under no misapprehension as to the view taken by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary as to the urgency and importance of these problems; and I hope to satisfy the noble Lord that our action, within the limits of the practicable, has not fallen, and is not falling, below the level of the needs. I shall also deal, I assure the noble Lord, with his most sympathetic approach to the problems of after-care.
My Lords, to consider overcrowding, it is, unhappily, true that in 1952 there were 6,000 men sleeping three in a cell, and that there are almost as many to-day. But to-day we have 2,000 more prisoners, so that without considerable activity (I do not think this is an unfair point) there would have been 8,000 men sleeping three in a cell. To deal with this problem we have planned a forward building programme which is set out in Part IV of the White Paper. This is the first time that such a programme has been published, and it is an indication of the Government's determination to grapple with this problem realistically. I would emphasise—and I hope that this will be some comfort; I do not mean it merely as a debating answer to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham—that this is not merely a paper programme. We have been dealing with the immediate situation.
Since our last debate four additional open establishments—two prisons and two Borstals—have been acquired and brought into use, and sites have been found for the first remand and observation centre, and for another new security prison. Incidentally, the designs of these establishments will incorporate several new developments in prison architecture, and they are already in hand.
453 Apart from that, the planning of a number of other—I repeat, other—establishments is even further advanced, and work will begin during this year at seven sites. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to name them: first, the security prison at Hindley; second, the psychiatric centre at Grendon Underwood; third, a security Borstal for boys at Swinfen fourth, a security Borstal for girls at Bulwood; fifth, the large new Borstal reception centre at Ashford, Middlesex; and, sixth and seventh, two new detention centres in Durham and Yorkshire, which I hope will please the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. In addition, a large number of other sites and properties suitable for development have been and are being investigated, but the rate at which the very large programme announced in the White Paper can be undertaken is limited by other factors besides the availability of funds.
One of the most important of these, as I have already indicated, is the necessity to give an adequate opportunity for the consideration of local objections to proposals for new penal establishments. It is rather sad (I am sure that my noble friend Lord Templewood will agree) that, despite the successful development in the years since the last war of a very extensive system of open prisons and Borstals, most people still think that, however desirable it may be that new prisons, Borstals and detention centres should be built, there are always the most cogent reasons why they should not be built anywhere near their houses. That is one of the real problems which we have to face. I hope that as the building programme develops public opinion will come more and more to accept that the job cannot be done without the tools.
The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, welcomed, in somewhat qualified terms—but he did welcome—the inclusion of the figure of £3 million in the Prison Estimates for 1959–60 under the head of new buildings; and both he and my noble friend Lord Templewood spoke of the level of expenditure in future years. I cannot, for reasons which are only too well known to two ex-Ministers, be very precise about this matter, but, so far as the present Government are concerned, we are anxious to see this programme got under way as fast as is reasonably possible, as is indicated by the fact that the expenditure proposed for 1959–60 is some 454 three times that for the past year. And I would add this: that subject to the vicissitudes of the future, I see no reason why very substantial progress should not be made within the period of five years which my noble friend Lord Templewood mentioned. I could not guarantee that the programme will be completed in that period; I think that would be too much, even assuming the mantle of Elijah; but I can guarantee very substantial progress, and I am sure that that will be achieved. I shall mention to my right honourable friend the suggestion of my noble friend Lord Templewood about a "progress report."
I come now to under-staffing, and there we have met the same kind of difficulties as with accommodation. I think that I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, however, about the Wynn-Parry Report. Recruiting for the Prison Service has been good, and over the past year the grade of the men prison officers increased in numbers by 270 to a total of over 4,200. But this additional staff, as I have indicated, has all been absorbed by the increased prison population and the need to man four new establishments. I am afraid I cannot, though I wish I could, foretell the time when staff will be available in sufficient numbers for the shift system to be extended to the local prisons. But I can assure noble Lords that no restriction is placed on recruitment, and that the facilities for training recruits have been greatly expanded to deal with a larger intake.
As I have said, I cannot leave this question without saying something with reference to what the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, had to say about the Wynn-Parry Report. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary set up this Committee in 1957 with the desire to see the position of the Prison Service properly recognised by a thorough and independent review of its pay and conditions of service. I cannot accept that the attitude of the Government to the recommendations of the Committee is fairly, or even accurately, described in the publication from which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, quoted. The Committee was appointed in 1957—and I am glad that another old friend and judicial colleague of mine, Mr. Justice Wynn-Parry, did this admirable and useful piece of work. The Committee had 455 reported within eighteen months, and the new pay scales recommended had been implemented as from January 1, 1958.
There were many other recommendations affecting other forms of remuneration, such as allowances and overtime, and these have been accepted with only two exceptions. These are still in negotiation with the Prison Officers' Association. One of them relates to the amount of the allowance to be paid to prison officers who pass the examination to qualify for promotion to principal officer; the other is a minor question concerned with the subsistence allowance of new entrants. These matters, my Lords, are being discussed. The Committee also made recommendations as to the future movements of pay in the Prison Service, the interpretation and application of which are still under consideration with the Prison Officers' Association and the other staff associations concerned. It certainly cannot be said that the Government have rejected them.
My Lords, I now turn to the difficult problem concerning work for prisoners. I do not think that those who have followed the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and have studied the relevant pages of the White Paper, will accuse the Government of complacency. What it says there is that in the local prisons—and I would emphasise that this applies only to the local prisons —there are not enough workshops; the working hours are too short; there is not enough work to fill these hours; and too much of the work is of a low industrial quality. The short working hours are, of course, a result of the shortage of staff to which I have referred. The shortage of workshops can be remedied. and is, in fact, being remedied. Sixteen additional shops are being provided this year, and eight of them will be two-storeyed so that they can take two industries. The situation about shortage of working space would become easier if more outside work could be found. As is mentioned in the White Paper, at one time some 1,000 men were employed outside the prisons on various useful projects—for example, agriculture, land drainage, highway work and forestry. Unhappily, in recent years, despite strenuous efforts, this form of work has, for the reasons stated in the White Paper, dwindled to small proportions. Now the 456 Prison Commissioners, while not diminishing their efforts to find work in this field, hope to increase the numbers employed outside by purchasing or renting four more farms during the next financial year; and I think the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, will agree that that is an interesting and enterprising development which has already been successful at two prisons.
My Lords, the great need is for more work, preferably of a simple kind which does not require much workshop space per man. It is necessary for such work to be simple, since approximately two-fifths of the population of local prisons are serving sentences of six months or less, and because there is no time to train these men to do any but the simplest work—indeed, many of them are mentally or physically incapable of performing skilled work. I accept the view of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, that this problem will never he solved without the co-operation of those concerned outside the prisons—employers and trade unions alike. I feel, however, that he takes too pessimistic a view of what has already been done and is being done in this way.
I regretted his grudging reference to the appointment of an Industrial Adviser, because in fact this gentleman has been most active in the very field where the noble Lord asks for activity. Thanks to his efforts, in three large cities which contain local prisons committees of influential industrialists, and other interested local bodies, together with officials of the Department, have been set up to help in the problem of finding work for the prisoners. Representatives of industrial concerns have visited the prisons, and as a result some orders have already been received. This procedure will be extended, and already work from private employers on a sub-contracting basis has been found for upwards of 1,300 men. Nevertheless, the Government do not exclude the possibility, if the situation warrants it, of considering some more formalised method of seeking the help and advice of industrialists and trade unionists on the lines suggested by the noble Lord.
May I interrupt the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor for one moment? Of course, I did not wish to say anything discourteous to this excellent gentleman, 457 whose labours, I know, are very valuable. But my point can be put shortly in this way: either he is employed full-time, in which case he should be remunerated properly as a Government servant, or, if he is not employed full-time, he ought to be. That was my point, put shortly.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will certainly convey that to my right honourable friend. The noble Lord knows that full-time or part-time work in that sort of sphere is one of the great administrative problems of our time; but I will certainly mention it to Mr. Butler and will discuss it with him. But what I thought the noble Lord would be pleased to know about was of the formation of these committees and the resultant work.
As is made clear in the White Paper, the effective development of after-care is regarded by the Government as of primary importance; and, as I said, I heard with sympathy the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. By a long and. I believe (despite some words which fell from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan), valuable tradition, this work has been based on a partnership between the State and voluntary social service. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, referred in particular to the recommendations of the Maxwell Committee, which sought to bring effective after-care, as distinct from aid on discharge, within the sphere of the voluntary aid societies which deal with men and women discharged from the local prisons. I should not wish the impression to be gained that little has teen done to implement these recommendations, or that they are unlikely to achieve their end. A most important change is the appointment at local prisons of well-qualified social case workers, known as prison welfare officers, to whom the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, referred.
These officers serve two purposes. First, they help the prisoners during their sentence with their many social and domestic problems, and are thus able to establish a relation of confidence as non-authoritarian figures. I think that it is work on these lines which the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, desired to see continuing. Then, secondly, they select those prisoners who are most likely to benefit from friendship and after-care after discharge and prepare case histories and constructive plans for their after-care. As the 458 noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said, there are now fifteen; and more will be appointed. Here again he can take consolation from the fact that the figures he had to use are different from those in the White Paper, which show some improvement.
In the largest prisons it has been found necessary to employ three officers, and in view of the importance of this service senior welfare officers are being appointed at the largest prisons. There is also a welfare organiser at the head office of the National Association of Discharged Prisoners' Aid Societies in London. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham will approve, and that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, will not disapprove, if I interject to say that long before I was Home Secretary, at the height of the crime wave of ten years ago, I had to broadcast the weekly "Good Cause" appeal for the National Association of Discharged Prisoners' Aid Societies, and during most of my adult life I have always been interested in their work. It is hoped that this service will offer a career value which is attractive to well qualified candidates.
We can believe, therefore, that the work of preparation for after-care will be well done, but this will evidently be of little avail unless suitable arrangements can be made by the aid societies concerned to provide voluntary after-care. Here I must emphasise that in this sphere the aftercare must be voluntary. Prisoners are under no obligation to accept it. The extension of the sphere of compulsory after-care was the subject, as is stated in the White Paper, of a recent report to which the Government are giving careful consideration. In the practical application of voluntary after-care much remains to be done, but this does not mean that much is not already being done. The aid societies are finding many new methods of organisation and activity to meet their new responsibilities, and their National Association is taking an increasingly vigorous interest in promoting these developments.
I do not think there is any difference between any noble Lords who have spoken that, for most discharged prisoners, there are two primary needs: a home and work. The problems of the homeless are particularly grievous. All too often the 459 first reason for recidivism is simply loneliness. Here well organised after-care services should always be able to help, and in co-operation with those services the National Assistance Board are ready to put a man in a position to pay in advance for reasonably-priced accommodation, whether in a hostel, a lodging-house or private lodgings. Therefore there is no foundation for my noble friend's fear that released prisoners who do not want to go to a hostel cannot get grants from the Board unless they can give an address. There are only the normal precautions to ensure against abuse.
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble and learned Viscount to ask one question? I know how courteous he is in giving way. The noble and learned Viscount informs me that I need have no fear about this. At the present time I know the situation too well and often it does operate in the way I described. But do I take it that in future this will be avoided?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords that is certainly the impression that was given to me. If the noble Lord will keep in touch with the Home Office on that matter he can clear up any detailed point, but it was said most emphatically to me that a released prisoner who did not want to go to a hostel could get a grant from the Board. If the noble Lord wants to follow up the details I shall be pleased to arrange for them to be given to him. I entirely share his view that there would be a great advantage in a network of hostels such as Norman House, to provide a transitional home for those who have no other. I think he would agree with me that it is quite a problem to find the right people to man such homes.
My noble friend Lord Moynihan mentioned the question of the police. For six years I was recorder of Oldham, which is an industrial town of 175,000 people in Lancashire, and I did an immense amount of placing on probation and similar treatment. I found that the Oldham police, and especially the inspector detailed for that job, could not have been better or kinder or more thoughtful in trying to help me to find work for these men. In those six years only one man whom I treated in this way let me down 460 —and I think that that is a practical tribute to the police. Certainly I should be surprised if I found that they did not help and were inclined to have a "down" on a man, if I may put it that way.
In finding employment we rely not only on the after-care service but also, and indeed primarily, on the Ministry of Labour. Every prisoner who is serving a sentence of three months or over is interviewed by an officer of the Ministry of Labour some time before his discharge. Particulars of his experience and qualifications, including any training he has received in prison, are sent to the exchange in the arca in which he intends to settle, so that efforts can be made to find him employment in advance of his discharge. On his discharge, a prisoner is given a special form of introduction to the local exchange so that embarrassing explanations can be avoided. Interviews can be conducted in advance of his discharge in conditions of privacy and everything is done to win the confidence of the individual. Speaking on behalf of my old Department, I say that we are most grateful to the Ministry of Labour and the National Assistance Board for their willing and sympathetic co-operation. The other point on which I should like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, is that in finding work our nationalised industries do set an example and our after-care people are getting every cooperation from them.
I have endeavoured to deal with the points that the noble Lord has raised. I have tried hard to follow him and I hope I have not taken too long. As I am going to be followed by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of St. Albans I want to come back to the more general view of this matter which was set out by my noble friend Lord Templewood. I have listened with the greatest care to all the speeches that have been made. They have been made by noble Lords who are masters of the subject. They have stated the problems with the greatest cogency and power. Their criticism is restrained and constructive, and they have given the Executive wise advice.
Yet I must confess to some disappointment, because they appear to me to be doing—if I may put it in this way to the-right reverend Prelate—a Gallio in 461 reverse. Your Lordships will remember Gallio's song:One thing only I see most clear, andI pray you also see.Claudius Cesar has set me here Rome's deputy to be.It is her peace that ye go to break—Not mine, nor any king's.But, touching your clamour of 'conscience's sake',I care for none of these things.I was not Home Secretary six months before I discovered that this was not a problem which the State could solve. I took a very different view of care from that of the Proconsul. I took the view that it was largely a matter of conscience's sake and recreating the conscience. With the greatest respect—and I think the right reverend Prelate knows my personal respect for him, apart from his colleagues —I wonder whether we are not apt to affect too great a timidity in our approach to the young.
I have in mind particularly two things. In his recent book, the noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, wrote in a hundred pages of forthright and nervous prose the severest condemnation of over-refinement in the age-long adventure of the leadership of men. When I was Home Secretary, the then Lord Bishop of Peterborough asked me to make the closing speech at a moral welfare conference in his diocese. I admit I was rather surprised when I arrived at the doorway of the largest enema in Peterborough to find a bold placard saying: "Sunday evening. Sir David Maxwell Fife on sex and the family", with the Bishop in the chair. But there were 1,500 people in the cinema; I had a most reverent and interested audience, and The Times and several other newspapers had leading articles on the meeting and on what I said.
I have often said that lawyers, in contradistinction from the rule of law, are only part of the cement of society; they do not claim to be the keystone of the arch. But the cement shows where the strain is, and surely the answer can come only from a general crusade in order to tackle this weakness in our life. I put this point with the greatest diffidence, I assure the right reverend Prelate: that I sometimes wonder if, out of deference to the "angry young men" and the like, we overplay the moral forthrightness of the nineteenth century with an almost 462 eighteenth century sophistication. In our anxiety to avoid putting clichés to the young, we sometimes forget that cliches are often truisms whose cardinal constituent is eternal truth.
Therefore I should like to see—and I think here my personal desire is on the same lines as that of my noble friend Lord Templewood—this movement universal. I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter that it should contain parents and teachers. But I say, with great respect to him, that it should first contain great figures from the Church, teachers, ourselves as parents, magistrates, and, above all, ourselves as those who affect to be the political leaders of the people of this country. If we can get that general endeavour, then we shall be dealing with the second part of the problem. which is so great and necessary —namely, the problem of preventing people from falling into crime, because we shall have done something to improve their moral standards and done our part in endeavouring to secure that in this new world the mind and spirit of man will be at least reasonably commensurate with his scientific and material advance. I hope your Lordships will not mind my stating my view of the problem; it is one that I have carried for many years, and I ask your Lordships to consider it with the other factors in this debate.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I should like to begin by associating myself with the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack in the tribute he has paid to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, on his maiden speech. To most of us the making of a maiden speech is a tremendous effort; indeed, the making of any speech at any time in this House is an effort, and I hope it always will be so. But, listening to the noble and learned Lord, it was difficult to realise that he had not spoken to us in this House before —in fact, I almost refuse to believe it now—because he spoke with such complete ease and mastery that it was as if he had addressed us on many occasions. I hope he will make that true in the future, and we shall always listen to him with great pleasure and to our enlightenment.
I should like to say to the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack that we gladly associate ourselves with him in his concluding remarks. If there is to be a crusade for the purpose of dealing with 463 this social evil of crime, certainly we will associate ourselves with it. But I would say that this debate is not a political debate. My noble friend Lord Nathan began by saying that he was speaking for himself. Of course, in a debate of this kind we all speak for ourselves, and if, in a moment, I come to the assistance of my noble friend Lord Pakenham, it will not be because he is a political associate but because he happens to be a personal friend and possibly in need of a little help at this time. I thought that the Lord Chancellor was less than his usual fair self in his criticism of my noble friend. I do not think my noble friend really intended to say that the Government had done nothing in this matter, and if he was thought to have said it I gather that he was misunderstood; indeed that he merely refrained from saying what the Government had done because he thought the noble Viscount would wish to say it himself.
But I think he was right to point out that the great promise contained in the White Paper is something for the future. Even the noble and learned Viscount would not pretend that, brilliant as the future may be, the Government or anybody in the position of Home Secretary is entitled to medals for what he promises to do. We accept—certainly I accept—the statement in the White Paper in the greatest of good faith. I believe that both the noble and learned Viscount and the present Home Secretary are equally conscientious and equally desirous of carrying out the improvements which are forecast in the White Paper. But the fact remains that they have not yet been carried out. In the meantime the position is serious, and the White Paper itself does not blink the fact.
I want to come on to the question of research, on which my noble friend Lord Nathan spoke, with such great assistance to us. I am afraid I cannot come to the House with the same generous contribution as he made. Perhaps what I can do is to state at once why I am speaking in this debate. I am not a former Home Secretary, nor have I taken a special interest in crime, nor am I in a position to make any special contribution. But I was for a great many years a member of the committee, and subsequently chairman, of an approved school, and as such I had a good deal of contact with the raw 464 material which we are discussing at the present time. I will say a word about that in a moment. I really come to your Lordships as somewhat of an amateur in this question. I feel that any consideration of crime and the official publications about crime reveal the astonishing fact that so little is known about much of the relevant data required to come to definite conclusions. For instance, it is generally accepted that the amount of crime has increased, and is increasing, and that this is particularly the case in the age group which is now between 16 and 21. It is also a fact that there has been a startling increase in the number of offences, particularly offences of violence. But the causes of all this are at the best only conjecture at present, and I think that every speaker has accepted that. At any rate, the facts as we see them from the criminal statistics published for 1957 tend to throw considerable doubt on all our previous ideas as to the causes of crime.
I was saying that I was chairman of an approved school, and for a number of years I made it my practice to see every boy who was admitted to the school and to examine the case papers. I endeavoured to form some general conclusion as to what had brought these boys to the school, as to the condition of their homes, and as to what sort of boys they were generally, and to get as much broad information as one could. I handled some hundreds of cases, and I also kept in touch with the boys while they were at the school. The first point I should like to mention is that not all the boys who went to the approved school were offenders; there were a substantial number who were recommended by the magistrates as being in need of care and attention. I should have thought that the last place you would send a boy in need of care and attention would be to an approved school, where he would mix with fairly hardened offenders—at any rate, boys who had committed more than one offence, and who had been sent to an approved school because they were beyond redemption at home. A substantial number of boys who were in need of care and attention did go to the approved school, and I should like to ask the noble Earl who is to speak later whether that is still the practice, whether he thinks that it is desirable, and whether something cannot be done to stop it.
465 My general impression of the boys was that they were very much like other boys; there was little to distinguish them either in the way of intelligence, character, upbringing, home life or anything else. Indeed, in the ordinary day-to-day contacts these boys were as straight as other boys. They were as truthful, and one wondered why they were ever there at all. Of course, one knew that they had committed offences. The striking thing was that a good many offences related to the stealing of bicycles. That was a common offence. Apparently they liad stolen more than one bicycle, but only one at a time, and the purpose was to use it and not for resale. That might give some clue to the kind of offenders these boys were.
Even before the war it was difficult to get a pattern of the causes of crime, and still more is it to-day. Indeed, it is somewhat of a puzzle which I think only an Institute of Criminology, such as through the generosity of the Wolfson Trustees we hope to have created, can help us to solve. On the one hand, you get these increases of crime taking place during a period of improved standards of living—as has been said by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and others: better housing, higher earnings, less unemployment, better educational opportunities and far larger public expenditure on education. On the other hand, you have to realise that a large number of the crimes are committed by boys between the ages of 17 and 21. These boys were born between the years 1938 and 1943. Is that not of some significance? Was this not during a period of broken homes, of fathers going off to the war, evacuation, bombing. schools closing down and all sorts of disturbances which would naturally have an effect on these young people? How far is the war responsible? If it is largely responsible, are we not taking a too gloomy view of the present position? The increase of crime, if it is largely confined to young people, is still taking in people who were children during the war years. Is it not possible that there is what one might call a "crime bulge" which will go on for a number of years and then gradually decline? I should not like to be dogmatic about it, but it is one of the matters which I think an Institute of Criminology might well consider and possibly report upon at not too distant a date.
466 There is one other factor: this is not unique to this country; we have similar phenomena in most other countries, and not only in countries this side of the Iron Curtain but also in the Soviet Union and Poland, Hungary and Rumania, where they also have their crime waves which they have readily admitted. Is it not possible also that even to-day we are living in an age in which we talk of violence? Not only are there these implements which I am glad my noble friend Lord Pakenham brought out so graphically, but the language of statesmen and of generals is one of violence—everybody is talking in violent terms. We do not talk of "negotiation" to-day; we talk of "negotiating through strength". and all these things. it seems to me, are bound to have some influence on young people, at any rate. The young person's toy is a Run, quite naturally, and if he were prohibited from using these things he presumably would still be allowed to have a gun.
Having said all that, I feel we ought to preserve a sense of proportion. We are concerned about the increase in crime, but in relation to the total population of this country the number of offenders really is small; we are speaking of a relatively small group of people, one in 500, I think it is, according to the figures. The hulk of our people are honest and law-abiding. One of the things that strikes me every time I walk down Whitehall or Victoria Street or a great many other places is to see the newspaper stalls with the proprietor absent, a pile of papers and a notice "Leave 2½d."; everybody leaves 2½d. and takes a paper; nobody thinks of taking a paper without payment. This is not only the fact but the newsvendor knows it is a fact; he knows he can go away quite safely and his papers will be duly paid for. Or you get the boxes On the buses where people are invited to put in their fare which has not been collected. The money is collected and very few people, if any, try to evade the fare.
Those things have to be looked at as well, and it would be a great misfortune if we, even by implication, gave the impression that we were becoming a lawless nation, a nation of criminals. that crime is increasing, and so on, when in fact all that is happening is the same kind of thing as my noble friend talked about 467 when he spoke of the amount spent on research by the Government. The Government had spent £3,000, and the noble and learned Viscount was saying they were now going to spend five times as much, £15,000; but, when all is said and done, the amount is insignificant and trifling. I do not say that the amount of crime is insignificant and trifling but it is a very small amount as compared with the total population. It would be a great misfortune if we gave the impression that we were by and large dishonest, or a nation not law abiding.
The White Paper sets out a number of principles which are enlightened and upon which I congratulate the Home Secretary, for dealing with crime. I think it is somewhat belated, but I am not making a political point of that. I think we might have had it some time earlier. But the White Paper itself disclaims any idea of dealing with the deep-seated causes of crime, and it is for this reason that I welcome the setting up of an institution which is going to try to form some judgment as to what are the causes of crime and to investigate a great many other matters in connection with crime. Until we do so, until we have the fullest possible knowledge, we are dealing only with the symptoms and not the disease itself, and noble Lords must know that dealing with symptoms without knowing the causes can be a very dangerous thing; we are committing ourselves to remedies before we have found out what the real problem is. So I am glad that there is going to be the possibility, as the White Paper says, of a fundamental re-examination of penal philosophy on the basis of knowledge to be gained as a result of the establishment of this institute.
But, in spite of the noble and learned Viscount's opinion that much can be done at once, this is, by and large, going to be a long-term thing. I do not believe you can carry out a lot of this research and investigation and get results quickly. I should like to say a word or two upon what I think can be done immediately. First, I think that the statistics that are provided for us can be made more reliable and can be provided a little earlier. We have not yet got the figures for 1958, except unofficially, and the figures for 1957 were not supplied until, I think. September, 1958. That is rather late to be of great value. But, apart from that, the figures themselves are not entirely reliable. 468 They are based upon returns which are made by the different police districts and are not necessarily on exactly an identical basis.
For instance—and the noble and learned Viscount himself gave an example of this—under the heading "assault" you can have a technical assault (although that would not be an indictable offence, of course), or an assault which amounts to a serious wound. They are both assaults and there is no attempt to discriminate between the two. On the other hand, it can be left to the interpretation of the police district as to the heading under which the offence comes. These figures have not been produced with any uniformity and it is difficult to compare one year with another and to get any idea as to what is the respective seriousness of the crimes that come within any particular category. Secondly, these returns give no information at all about recidivism. I am not sure whether the exact figures are known, but certainly the annual return does not give any information as to how many of the people who are convicted on indictment have been previously convicted of similar or other offences. It would be most useful to know this in order to see how effective our treatment is.
Then, I think that the question of the use of our police requires further examination. If we are to exercise the greatest deterrent we must ensure that the police force is used to the best advantage. The percentage of police to population to-day is higher than it was before the war, although I understand that there is still a shortage of police; yet the number of indictable offences has increased enormously. My noble friend gave figures; I am not going to repeat them, but in some cases they run into 400 or even 500 per cent. The fact is that although the proportion of police to population has increased, the number of offences undetected—that is, in respect of which no arrest has been made—amounts to over 50 per cent. That is a very serious matter. In my view, one of the greatest deterrents to the commission of an offence is the fact of the almost certainty of being discovered and convicted. If a potential offender starts off with the knowledge that he has a fifty-fifty chance of not being discovered at all, that seems to me to be putting a premium on the commission of offences.
469 I wonder whether we could not use the police to better advantage. I see that in the last year half a million people were found guilty of traffic offences—570,000 I think is the actual figure, which represents 57½ per cent. of the total of all offences. I am not suggesting that traffic offences are not serious, but they must have involved a great number of police and taken up a tremendous amount of their time in dealing with the offences. because the police have not only to keep watch but they have to attend court and take time off to prepare their case and so on. While they are doing that they are not dealing with other questions of crime. If so many police are occupied in that way it is not surprising that a high proportion of offences remain undetected, and I would suggest that the question of the use of our police force might he looked at again.
Then there is the question of the treatment of offenders. In order to decide what is the most effective way of treating an offender, obviously the court ought to be possessed of the fullest information—the history of the person, and of his home and other circumstances. In many cases this information is not available to the court, at any rate not in a complete form. There is a shortage of probation officers, and of course the collecting of this information takes up a great deal of time. With that shortage, obviously it is not possible to give the court all the help that should be given. There is one other difficulty. A great many convictions take place in courts of assize, at sittings of the court which are for short periods only and at long intervals. Everyone wants to get through the business in the shortest possible time; it is not practicable to have a short remand, and a long remand until the next sitting of the court would be unfair to the person convicted and quite unsatisfactory generally; and so, again, the court has to decide on inadequate information. I feel that that is a matter that ought to be looked into, to see that at any rate the court gets the fullest possible assistance.
One matter on which I hope that the Institute of Criminology will be able to help us is to give us a really accurate and reliable measure of the success or failure of various forms of treatment. The Judges, who I am sure, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett said, are doing their best, have their own views as to 470 what is the correct form of treatment; but what information do they ever get thereafter as to the effect of that treatment, not only on the individual, but generally? We all tend to think that the time for severity has gone and that other forms of treatment are right. But on what information do we say this? On the face of it, a great many people, I believe almost the majority, would think, even to-day, that we are not sufficiently severe. I believe that they are wrong. I believe that not because of any evidence I have got, or because I have investigated the matter in any way, but because it seems inhuman; and we are all more humane to-day than we were.
I feel that we ought to know much more about the effects of any course of treatment that we give to people who are convicted. I believe that a Committee has been set up to look into this matter under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Streatfeild. I should he most grateful to the noble Earl if, when he comes to speak, he would tell us something about the progress that that Committee is making. I gather that the noble Earl cannot; that he does not know. But it would be interesting to know—it is important, and I should have liked to know—whether in fact they really are investigating this particular question seriously, because while their terms of reference may cover it, they do not seem to cover it in terms.
I should like to know whether any other methods than those that are at present employed for dealing with prisoners are being considered. I hope that we have not said the last word on the treatment of offenders. My noble friend thought that perhaps in some cases, even in serious cases of crime, prison was the wrong treatment. It may well be so. But is any alternative being considered hope it is, and I hope that we may be able to give much more thought to questions of the treatment of prisoners. This, of course, is a matter which we ought to consider urgently because we are committing ourselves to particular forms of treatment. The noble and learned Viscount himself told us of the large expenditure that is about to take place in the building of more prisons and other institutions. But until we really know that they are the right methods, that we are on the right lines, we seem to be in danger of possibly wasting a lot 471 of money. The last thing I would wish to do would be to minimise the urgency of dealing with prisons, especially those that are overcrowded and where prisoners are sleeping three in a cell. That, I think, is one of the most monstrous things that exists in our civilisation to-day.
I was particularly glad that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, dealt with the question of restitution to victims. I take the view that if the person who commits an offence is in a position to make restitution, he should be required to do so; but in many cases he cannot. I do not think, however, that the victim should suffer on that account. We have regarded crime as an offence against the community, as of course it is. But we tend to overlook the fact that it is also an offence against an individual; and individuals can suffer very seriously. The old lady whose lifelong savings have been stolen has no remedy and she just has to face up to it. I believe that this is a burden which should be placed fairly and squarely on the community as a whole. If crime is an offence against the community, the community ought to make good the effects of the crime; and, after all, there is a school of thought which takes the view that, but for the lack of adequate vigilance by the community, many of these crimes would not be committed. I am very glad, therefore, to hear that that is a matter which is being seriously considered. I hope that it is being considered not merely from the point of view of requiring the offender to make restitution but also of the State itself making restitution.
Finally, I should like to emphasise once more the vital importance of finding out what is responsible for the extraordinary growth in crime—whether it is a passing phase; whether it is due largely to causes arising out of the war, or whether we are to regard it as a permanent phenomena in our existence. I imagine that the Institute of Criminology will be in a position to make certain recommendations. I was going to suggest a Royal Commission, and I am not at all sure, even now, that a Royal Commission would not be the most satisfactory way of investigating this particular question of the causes of crime and the causes of the increase in crime; and I should be grateful if that idea could be seriously considered. That is not put forward 472 officially as a Party matter. I put it forward myself, on my own responsibility, but I believe that it might be of considerable value.
We might, at the same time, ask a Royal Commission to find the most effective way of dealing with crime and ways of preventing crime. I believe that one of the first ways is education. I am not at all sure, despite the vast amount we are now spending on primary education, that we are using that in the most effective way to build up the character of the children. I think it was the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Exeter, who remarked that our schools are more concerned with passing examinations and instilling learning into the children than in building character. Certainly I feel that the schools can play a very great part. One of the things that the schools can do is to create in the child an interest in things. I believe that one of the causes of crime is that children are so lacking in interest in things, and have to look formeans of passing their time, associate with other children and get into games. If children could learn to look subjectively and to find ways in which they can use their leisure time, I am sure that that would be an important factor.
I would conclude by saying that one of the things which I am sure we have to do is to find an outlet for the spirit of adventure in young people. They have that spirit and they can find either an outlet in the way that an outlet is found by those who are committing offences or an outlet in other directions. Perhaps we are lacking in opportunities, both in town and country, for children to find an outlet for the adventurous spirit that all healthy children have. Perhaps if we could find that outlet, and be prepared to spend money on it, it might be money well spent. I would end by thanking my noble friend Lord Pakenham for having once more raised this vitally important question. I am sure that he has rendered a very great service, not only from the most notable speech that he himself made but through the many other speeches that have been made in the debate as a result of his initiative.
§ 7.6 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
My Lords, I wish these particular Benches were more adequately filled, and that 473 there were other right reverend Prelates here able to listen, as I did, to the appeal in the concluding remarks of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack. But it happens to be ten days after Easter, and it is at this time of the year that a number of right reverend Prelates are otherwise engaged. But I will take the opportunity of passing on to the most reverend Primate, and to other right reverend Prelates, to the best of my ability, the substance of what was said by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor in his concluding remarks, and I will try to convey to them the sincerity and conviction and the deep concern that gave such power to his words.
I welcome the chance of making a comment or two on what was said by the noble and learned Viscount—but it will be only a comment or two. Just recently I was at a selection conference where a number of men from different walks of life were present, offering themselves for Ordination and stating their reasons before a panel of selectors. I was interested to note that two of those who were present were policemen. It is possible that, in their own way, they were showing the view expressed by the noble and learned Viscount, believing that the time had come for them to take some part in a crusade, and doing all in their power to rouse the nation to the urgent needs of the moment.
Just two other comments in this connection. The White Paper contains a considerable number of statistics, and quite recently the Church of England has produced its own statistics for 1957. They show an appreciable increase in the number of young people coming forward for Confirmation. That, I feel, is significant. Thirdly, I was in church on Easter Monday afternoon, and there were present some 2,000 young people, mostly of the 17 to 21 age group, with which we are particularly concerned, a majority of them lively and intelligent, some of them tough-looking, many of them wearing the most brightly coloured jeans I have seen for some time. They were the kind of people one wanted to see in church, because one believed that they would go out from that church with a fresh sense of the responsibility laid on them to work fur the coming of the Kingdom of God. However, I must bear in mind the warn- 474 ing of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter about preaching to your Lordships, and I would come to the substance of what I would put before you.
I welcome greatly the opportunity of taking part in this debate. Fundamentally, as so many people have pointed out, it is a matter of how much individuals care and have a sense of responsibility to God, the community and their neighbour. I will not repeat statistics that have already been put before your Lordships, but I would refer to a comment or two made by the Chief Constable of Hertfordshire (and we are fortunate in our Chief Constable in Hertfordshire) in his annual report for 1958. He has drawn attention to the disturbances caused by gangs of youths carrying knives, chains and studded belts; the lighter crimes of violence, certainly, but crimes that cause considerable disturbance in the minds of many citizens of our new towns and elsewhere. It is with that sort of situation in mind that one turns to consider the causes of the increase in crime.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has mentioned the position in schools, and other noble Lords have referred to the situation there; to the large classes, out of hand in some cases because they are too large; to the difficulties teachers meet when they cannot rely on co-operation from parents; to the need there is for a closer working partnership with youth leaders and clergy and ministers. There is this point which I would put before your Lordships. Very early in school days teachers can "spot" some of the troublesome children and can be informed of some of the problem homes; but unless there is a liaison between teachers and social workers some of these children just go up through the school and their problems are not really faced. I believe we need closer liaison.
The last two years at a secondary modern school are critical. So is the whole 11-plus period; but so are the years before that age. I submit that fine numbers of boys at age eight, nine and ten, are prepared to join Wolf Cub packs, and if there were more leaders we should have a chance of tackling delinquency nearer its roots. Looking ahead and thinking of the position in development areas where the proportion of children 475 to adults is above average, one can foresee a worsening of the employment situation as the bulge in the school population moves into the adolescent years. Consultation with industry is necessary if young persons are to be suitably employed and their training maintained should there be an economic recession.
My Lords, many causes have been given us during this debate to explain the increase of juvenile delinquency. I believe that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goddard, has said recently that the causes of crime to-day are the same as they were in Old Testament times: greed, love of easy money, lust and cruelty. In short, we are faced with original sin. I would stress two reasons for delinquency. First, a boy does not feel loved or wanted; he does not belong to anyone or anywhere. This point should be sufficiently recoenised: a boy needs to love. Secondly, young people suffer if they are not loved; they are deprived if they have not somebody or something to care for. Ought, then, town children to be given more chances of looking after pets and animals? I could express this differently and say that when a boy is not taught the Christian faith and when he does not see it practised at home he is more likely to get into trouble; and it is the teaching in schools that underlies so much of the present position.
Coming to the development of penal methods I am thankful to note (and I join with other noble Lords in saying this) that the Government have decided to set up an official Working Party to examine the late Miss Margery Fry's proposal that a scheme should be devised for the payment of compensation to those who suffer personal violence. I mention this because I am proud to claim Margery Fry as a kinswoman, and I know from correspondence and talk how seriously her mind was dwelling on this reform in her last long illness.
I should like to add to what has been said about detention centres. The White Paper describes a detention centre as a:constructive reformation system in which the staff would make a real effort to find out what was wrong with a boy and put it right.I have received within the last few days a memorandum from a senior probation officer emphasising that the grave weakness of a sentence to a detention centre 476 is that it now carries no period of compulsory after-care; only a very small number of boys accept voluntary aftercare. He quotes the case of a youth of seventeen, unemployed, on return from the detention centre, who proved a problem to his family and associated with doubtful characters. He writes of another lad of seventeen who, after release, committed two offences, for which he was put on probation; and of another who had the good sense to contact the probation officer when he was out of work. A "constructive reformation system" surely requires that a boy when he returns from a detention centre, probably fighting fit, should still be under some supervision to ensure that he takes to work rather than to fighting.
I understand that remand centres are most urgently needed. The establishment of more remand centres, particularly for those in the 17 to 21 age group, should have a much higher priority. They were sanctioned under Section 17 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, but in eleven years not one has been provided, and in the absence of such remand centres youths are sent to overcrowded prisons. One boy arrived at a local prison early in November and did not appear at the Assizes until early in March. He was in the local prison for five months learning the jargon and crooked ways, getting to know other delinquents from his home town, making no decisions, taking no responsibility, growing acclimatised to prison—prison which should surely be the ultimate sanction for the adult offender.
I read the paragraphs on the Borstal system contained in the White Paper with special interest, for twice I have taken temporary duty as a Borstal chaplain. It was meeting Alexander Paterson and Wemyss Grant Wilson that made me volunteer for that duty. I met in the service men who were Christians, unmistakable leaders whom Borstal boys trusted. That was nearly thirty years ago, and then housemasters had too many boys in their houses. The numbers in houses, which went down to 40, are rising in closed Borstals to something more like 60 or 70. This increase is, of course, related to the number of committals. There were about 1,300 inmates in Borstal in 1940; to-day there are some 4,200. Housemasters then spoke to me of the strain of always hoping that a boy would behave decently; of always encouraging 477 him lo that end, and of always bearing in mind the record that brought him to Borstal. I quote the White Paper, my Lords:Borstal is essentially a remedial and educational system based on personal training by carefully selected staff.When a housemaster has to deal with 70 Borstal boys his training of them, as he knows, is all too superficial. A principal probation officer has told me of this experiment—and I hope that it has often been repeated. Some half-dozen employers visited a Borstal institution and were sufficiently impressed by the type of youth and the equipment and instruction they saw to consider employing suitable youths from there who were recommended to them by the after-care officer.
My Lords, I must say that I regret to see in the section of the White Paper dealing with staffs so brief a reference to chaplains and ministers of religion. Experience teaches the great opportunities there are to help prisoners in trouble; and I think of the hours given to this work by the chaplains, not least in local prisons. The place of psychiatric and psychological services is rightly emphasised, and I am thankful that the present programme includes a psychiatric prison hospital. However, I think many people would have been glad to see in the White Paper an appreciation of the chaplains' place in the prison service, and a recognition of the need to help them by offering them suitable refresher courses.
I have referred to local prisons, and some of them are disgracefully overcrowded. Here there are herded together young men, cut off from their families and the opposite sex, kept in conditions which, as the White Paper says, make it impossible to organise training that is constructive. It was reassuring to hear the Lord Chancellor say that steps are now being taken to improve this state of affairs, and to hear him speak of the farms and of the new workshops. But it must be faced, my Lords, that many prisoners are work-shy, and that others have a poor employment record. If they are to receive effective training, then hard, arduous, interesting employment is needed —and here the Churches should do much more to rouse public opinion to think on 478 these lines. The goal is clear: so are the obstacles. But the Home Secretary has already proved that he has the imagination and drive to advance on this goal.
I will say a brief word about aftercare. I know the demands of this work, for I was a Borstal Associate for a time. The good work done in prisons, Borstals, detention centres and approved schools, will be undone unless there is adequate after-care—and this means some integration between the Probation Service and the Borstal and Prison Services. Adequate after-care requires more probation officers, for only when the Probation Service is better staffed will the contacts between officer and young man be frequent enough to develop into friendship. As a parish priest I learnt to accept probation officers as valuable allies to whom I could turn for counsel. The officers I knew best were Christians, and our debt to these men is heavy. We need more of them. But are the present entry conditions too rigid? Is the pay adequate?
We should be sensitive to the problems of teenagers—and I mention this because I would particularly emphasise this point towards the end of my speech. The Curtis Committee discovered how few of the young people from the poorer and rougher social groups would ever go near an ordinary club, or think of joining one. Yet the barrow boys of Camden Town and the Elephant might be drawn into a different sort of club—a club with a coffee bar, a dance hall, a good, tough, whole-time leader, and a few part-time voluntary helpers, and with no attempt to improve the occasion. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor emphasised the responsibility society must face, and he appealed to the Church to do its utmost to remind society of its responsibilities and to teach individuals to care; to stir their imaginations, so that they recognise that their influence is never neutral—for instance, that each person's attitude towards wilful damage matters.
Finally, my Lords, come back to this matter of manpower. A Christian staff is desperately needed for detention centres, prisons, Borstals and the Probation Service. Here parishes, schools, and universities, officers in the Forces and others, can all help by keeping before their boys and men the adventurous and 479 intensely personal service which is to be found in these under-staffed professions.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
My Lords, it would be an impertinence on my part to offer my congratulations to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, on his maiden speech but I hope he will allow me to express just a word of admiration for the ease and mastery with which he addressed this Assembly on his first occasion.
I am particularly grateful to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor for the analysis which he made of some of the criminal statistics, thus enabling us to get the true picture in a rather better perspective. These statistics are notoriously treacherous: and the reasons for that are partly inherent. One cannot analyse crime which is undetected, or record a criminal who is not apprehended. Further, they are treacherous partly due to reasons of policy and administrative practice, and partly because of historical considerations. As to policy, let me quote only one incident to show how to manipulate the figures. A few years ago the Chief Constable of Berwick had to soothe the alarm created in his neighbourhood by explaining that a 48 per cent. increase in crime, as recorded in his annual report, was solely due to a new method of recording. Then, of course, it is always possible to keep down the figures of juvenile delinquency by adopting the practice which prevails in Liverpool, where juveniles are commonly officially cautioned by specially selected police officers rather than brought to court. Consequently, a high proportion of their offences do not figure in the criminal statistics.
For historical reasons, too, it is difficult to get a clear picture. The common practice, as has been illustrated to-day, is to quote the figures of indictable offences. That selection, my Lords, is an arbitrary one, and is dictated not by modern conceptions of the severity of the crimes so much as by purely historical accident. By taking our picture of crime from the statistics of indictable offences we include even the most trivial offences—the schoolboy who steals a bicycle pump from his school fellow's bicycle, and neither intends to return it nor actually does so: but we omit all assaults which are not 480 so serious as to lead to actual or grievous bodily harm; we omit a large proportion of cases of cruelty to children; we omit cruelty to animals; and we omit practically all the offences concerned with prostitution, including the offence of living on the earnings of prostitutes and the offence, also, of brothel-keeping. Then we omit something about which I want to speak a little later—namely, the great volume of motoring crimes. I therefore hope very much (and this is why I mention these perhaps inevitable weaknesses in the figures) that the new research organisations which are to be established will undertake one or two tasks. First, I hope that they will proceed with some analysis of the trends of crime in terms of seriousness which are rather more in keeping with our contemporary ideas than merely the division into the indictable and the non-indictable offence.
Secondly, I hope very much and I see from the White Paper that some such project is contemplated—that they will be in a position to supply us with, and analyse, an absolutely vital piece of information which at present we lack. We are all impressed by the increase in the statistics of recorded offences, but we have no idea what proportion of that increase is due to greater activities on the part of the body of, so to speak, established criminals and what proportion to the wider spread of criminal habits. It is not possible to extract this information from the criminal statistics as they stand, and to arrive at conclusions which would be to any degree comprehensive would be a difficult undertaking. All the data exist, however, and I am delighted to see that a project of this nature is to be carried out by the Home Office Research Unit.
Having said that, I wonder if I may comment on one or two aspects of the figures which are so glaring and so seldom noted that, even at this late hour, I think perhaps they deserve a little attention. I must apologise for mentioning the first, which is the extraordinary discrepancy between the crime ratio of the male sex and of the female. This is virtually a world-wide phenomenon, and it is a permanent feature of our criminal experience. At the peak ages, about eleven times more offences in relation to the population are 481 committed by boys than by girls, and at all ages the ratio is between eight and nine times higher for males. I mention this not to give a bouquet to my own sex, though it is true that if boys behaved like girls and men behaved like women, the courts would be idle and the prisons would be empty. But it is not on that account that I want to make this point: I mention it because I think that it raises some fundamental doubts about many of the rather easy explanations which are current coin in criminal discussions to-day. I do not under-estimate the effects of broken homes, of indifferent and neglectful parents and of sordid environments; but I must point out that girls have the same parents as boys, that the risks of broken homes to which they are exposed are not noticeably different. This striking and, as I say, almost universal fact surely brings us up short to ask what are the constitutional differences, or differences of training and upbringing, between the two sexes which account for this astonishing and lasting divergence.
The second aspect on which I should like to comment is the extraordinary revolution which has been brought about in our criminal courts by the invention of the internal combustion engine. I am sure that the noble and learned Viscount will forgive me if I take issue with him when he said that the bulk of crimes are crimes of dishonesty. As a matter of literal numerical fact, that is no longer so. As my noble friend Lord Silkin pointed out, more than half of the offences of all kinds that are now dealt with in the courts are traffic offences; and more than half are offences in which the defendants are actually motorists. As against the 50 per cent. supplied by motorists to the figures, the 9.3 per cent. supplied by the thieves, the 2.7 per cent. supplied by those who break and enter and the 0.8 per cent. supplied by those who are guilty of violence against the person, look very insignificant. Without doubt many of these motoring offences may be regarded as trivial, but I would ask your Lordships to consider this situation seriously and I would plead for a rather different attitude towards this very large category of crimes.
Not all of these offences are trivial. The offence of causing death by dangerous driving is not trivial, and 133 persons were convicted of that offence in 1957—that is to say, some 20 per cent. more 482 than the number of persons convicted of either murder or manslaughter. That, in itself, should make us pause. And these convictions are not lightly or easily acquired. A very high proportion of those charged with the offence of causing death by dangerous driving are acquitted. The proportion runs to well over 40 per cent., for reasons which I think to anyone who has tried motoring offences may appear good reasons.
If we widen the view a little, we have to recognise that in 1957 there were something approaching 46,000 motorists who were convicted, not of parking offences or of trivial offences of motoring, but of offences in the group classified in the criminal statistics as "Dangerous driving, et cetera". The vast majority of the defendants were, in the nature of the case, over the age of 17. Only a tiny minority consisted of motor-bicyclists or illegal motorists under age. If we compare these offences with the number of persons convicted of larceny over the age of 17, we find that they are running nearly neck to neck. There are about fifteen motorists over 17 convicted of dangerous driving et cetera, for every sixteen persons over that age convicted of larceny. There are about four times as many motorists in that age group convicted of this offence as there are persons found guilty of breaking and entering. And if we find, as we shall, that the "et cetera" in "dangerous driving, et cetera" covers a multitude of rather small sins, let us look for a moment only at those crimes which may be regarded as really serious—causing death by dangerous driving; dangerous or reckless (as distinct from careless) driving; driving whilst drunk or drugged, and not stopping after an accident. The number of convictions (I refer now to convictions, not to persons convicted) recorded for these very serious offences runs to something of the order of 15,600, as against the 16,800 convictions recorded for offences against the person, including both those that do involve serious violence and those that do not.
I mention these facts because I think that we need a new attitude towards this kind of offence. I see with pleasure that we are soon to debate the appalling volume of casualties that occurs on the roads, the death and mutilation of many thousands of our fellow citizens that goes on, so that, as a former Lord Chief 483 Justice has said, the roads are littered with the dead and dying. I mention it for two reasons: first, because as my noble friend Lord Silkin has said, motoring offences involve a heavy proportion of the time of the police; and from that point of view alone, at the very least, this disregard of laws which, after all, Parliament has made, has very serious consequences.
I mention this matter, secondly, because it seems to me most unfortunate that the attitude of mind has come to be spread abroad that motoring offences are not real offences and that one can find even Her Majesty's learned Judges describing speeding as being an offence of an administrative nature, though speeding can be shown statistically to be a not unimportant contributory factor in a number of deaths. We do not carry weapons of the kind that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has so threateningly displayed, but a high proportion of the Members of this House and of others of our friends and colleagues do in fact use lethal weapons: we park them in Old Palace Yard instead of bringing them in with us. I venture to call your Lordships' attention to this aspect of the crime feature lest we in this House may be accused of hypocrisy, of spending many hours discussing the crimes that are committed by young persons who are not and perhaps are not likely to become Members of this House, and lest we should fail to see the mote, if not the beam, in our own eye.
All of us who have to sentence an offender, whether for an offence that is trivial or one that is grave, are to-day conscious that we carry a heavy responsibility. All of us, the highestof Her Majesty's learned Judges and the lowest of humble magistrates, like myself, are very conscious of that responsibility. All of us should have, I suggest, a considerable sense of failure. The criminal statistics are in fact a record of our failure. Whatever we are doing we are bound to admit that we are not succeeding. If we sometimes pass into a mood of greater optimism it is, I suggest, largely, alas! because we set our sights so low. In the White Paper your Lordships will find references to Doctor Max Grunhut's follow-up study of the after careers of youths sentenced to detention 484 centres and a reference to his "encouraging" conclusions. Our standard of encouragement is measured by the fact that what Doctor Grunhut found was that almost 45 per cent. of the first set of boys who went to the junior centre were in trouble again within two years, and that even of those who had not been guilty of any previous offence, nearly one-third were in trouble in two years, while for those who had a record of offences the proportion rose as high as nearly two-thirds. That is the measure of our expectations.
We have all welcomed detention centres, if only because they are new; and I suppose anyone who has to sentence an offender desperately longs for some new and brilliant idea that we have not yet got. Certainly one of their chief merits is that they, as has been said, avoid the use of local prisons. But I sometimes wonder whether we should not temper the enthusiasm with which we welcome this new weapon in our penal armoury. The detention centre implied a short sentence, inevitably, and, in my experience, for that very reason its deterrent effect is highly restricted. More than once I have been asked: "Please send me to the detention centre and not to Borstal or to prison, because I shall be out so much sooner." While the short sentence diminishes the deterrent effect, the opportunities for constructive treatment in the detention centre are inevitably limited. The intention, I think, is not primarly constructive so much as deterrent, at least to those who get there. There is nothing in violent physical exercise or long hours at the double which in itself teaches people not to steal—the logical link is not immediately apparent—and it is, I suppose, in the longer-term institutions that one has more hope of creating a fundamental change of attitude. I have sometimes wondered whether in our passionate desire for something new we were not slipping back in the detention centres into something like the old-fashioned short sentence which of recent years has been so much deprecated for prisoners.
Well, my Lords, we have, or should have, a sense of failure, but this perhaps we can say in our own defence: that much of our failure has been due to ignorance. Of recent years I am sure there has been a profound change in the 485 approach to sentences, and one which is expressed in a determination not so much to exact revenge as to create a future result; to deter others and to reform the offender. In that task, at all levels of the courts, we now have fuller and better information than we ever had before. Reference has been made tonight to the Committee which has been set up, of which I have the honour to be a member, and which is to examine whether that information could be more adequate still; and I am glad to be able to assure the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that that Committee is in fact considering the very issues which he mentioned.
But it is still true, as has been said this evening, that judges and magistrates labour under a special handicap. They have no information as to the consequences of their actions, unless by accident. By and large, doctors find out whether their patients die or get better; by and large, teachers—and I speak from bitter experience—find out whether their pupils pass their examinations or fail; and those who have the task of selecting candidates for appointments frequently live to suffer the consequences of their own mistakes. But judges and magistrates have no organised follow-up, and unless they take particular pains to get it they have no information as to the trend of different types of crime in the areas in which they operate. I know that there are those who take particular pains to get this information, and one can only hope that the practice will become more widespread. It has indeed been said that judges and magistrates are like children who are earnestly doing sums with a great deal of thought and care—day in and day out, sum after sum—and they grow wise and experienced in the doing of sums. But nobody ever checks whether the sums are right.
The last word I want to say is in regard to what I find so tremendously encouraging in the work of the Home Office Research Unit and the proposed Institute of Criminology. Here let me say that, unlike so many previous speakers, I have no interest to declare. I have been engaged in researches in this field for something like five years past on one of the projects mentioned on the back of the White Paper, but I am in the happy position that the result of this work has passed from my hands into those of printers and is now beyond my 486 control. My interest, therefore, in a technical sense, though not in the intellectual sense, is finished. But we welcome the fact that steps are at least being taken to dissipate our ignorance, and I am sure that I speak for everybody who has had to wrestle with even the smallest sentence for the smallest offence, or, at the opposite end of the scale, with grave and troubling crimes, when I say how cordially we welcome the first signs on the horizon that somebody is now going to check whether the answers to our sums are right.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ LORD DENNING
My Lords, may I add my tribute to my noble and learned friend Lord Birkett? I have listened to him as a persuasive advocate, as a wise Judge, and as a great orator: and to-day all through shines the finest quality of all—"one that loves his fellow men."
This White Paper deals largely with the duty of society in treating the criminal after he is sentenced; in establishing in him the will to lead a good and useful life. But the great task of the judge, representing the community, still remains: what the sentence shall be. Perhaps, as one who, as a Judge of Assize and more lately the Chairman of Quarter Sessions, has done a good deal of sentencing, I may deal with one feature in this White Paper which is described as novel and far-reaching. It is the feature that the judge should award a single sentence which is to be a sentence of custodial training whereby the young man under twenty-one is to be kept in custody for an indeterminate period, which may be anything from six months to two years at the discretion of the prison authorities. So the responsibility for the sentence for this important group is transferred from the hands of the judge into the hands of the prison authorities. It is novel, and it is far-reaching. It may be justified in this particular case, but on principle a single, indeterminate sentence needs carefully considering before it is introduced, because when one comes to sentence each judge has always in mind the desirability of reforming the criminal and also the need for deterring him, and others like him, from committing such an offence.
But there is one thing more than reform and more than deterrents that the judge has to consider, and that is the impact of the sentence on the community 487 as a whole, because there is the victim, the injured person, there are the people present in court, there are the villagers or townsfolk who know of it, and there is the country at large who read about it. Punishment is the way in which society expresses its denunciation of wrongdoing, and if there is to be respect for the law punishment for grave crimes must adequately reflect the revulsion of right-minded citizens.
Let me give an illustration. Your Lordships will have known of a case of nine youths, ages 20, 19 and 18 and the other six only 17 years of age. If it had been a question of reform only, if it had been a question of deterrents only, one would have thought of Borstal training for the older ones and maybe a detention centre for the six 17-year-olds. They were all from very good homes, all of good character; none of them would have done anything singly, but they were carried away because one of their comrades had previously been cut with a knife. But the sentence of the judge was on each and all of them four years' imprisonment, at the age of 17. And the country approved. The conscience of the community was roused by white youths attacking black. There was the indignation of the people that we should be so disgraced. The judge in his sentence expressed in words the horror, indignation and disgust of the people. The Court of Criminal Appeal said that the time had come when the community must set it down with a stern hand. That is one of the elements to be regarded in sentences. The impact of that sentence was that this country cleared its name throughout the world, and there has been a transformation in that particular question and the attitude of society to it. That is one illustration. Occasionally there should be severity—one might almost say extreme severity—for the good of all.
But then we may go to the reverse. The noble Lady referred to motoring offences. We may on occasions be too severe to carry the community with us. Our calendars at Quarter Sessions are filled with cases of men charged with driving cars under the influence of drink. The word went out a little while ago that these cases should be sentenced with imprisonment, and with what result? The 488 juries did not convict. If the man had been to a party and perhaps wobbled across the road a bit, but there was no accident, the juries thought: "There, but for the grace of God, go I", and they found him not guilty when they thought there was going to be a sentence of imprisonment.
When I now come to sum up to the jury in such a case I take them into my confidence, which I never do in the ordinary way. I tell the jury, "Mark you, this does not necessarily mean imprisonment. A fine or disqualification is what may ordinarily be meted out for this offence". I find that once juries have realised that there is not to be a sentence of imprisonment they will convict. Of course, if the information comes out afterwards that he has been previously convicted a sentence of imprisonment may follow, but I honour my word to the jury when it is a simple first case. Sentences must not go to a degree of severity beyond that which the ordinary people approve. All my experience shows me that the ultimate justification of any punishment is not merely that it is to reform the criminal, not merely that it is to deter, but that it is the emphatic denunciation by the community of a crime; and it is for the judge, in his responsible task as representing the community, to assess that sentence. It is not for the prison authorities; it is for the judge and not the Executive. So much on principle.
But would this indeterminate sentence reform? I spoke to a prison governor the other day and he thought it would mean that the cleverest and most plausible youngsters would put on a façade of goodness so as to get out of the six or nine months as quickly as may be, and back to their wrongdoing. It is not certain that this indeterminate sentence will necessarily reform. And what are the possibilities of abusing it? 1 do not suggest there would be prejudice or favouritism by the prison authorities, but let me tell your Lordships that in some European countries they have this indeterminate sentence. Take Denmark, where there is the indeterminate sentence, and were, in the case of sexual assaults, the offer is made to the accused that if he will submit to an operation, or to treatment with hormones to take away his sexual impulse, the indeterminate 489 sentence will come to an end and he will be released. If indeterminate sentences were to be used to bring pressure on the accused in any such way to take away his free will, that, I should have thought, on our principles, would be wrong. Indeed, if there is to be sterilisation of the unfit, let it be done by direct sentence, if it is right; not in such an indirect way as that.
That brings me to this question of justice to the accused, the prisoners; for they, too, are entitled to justice. I have spoken to a number of children in approved schools and youngsters at Borstal. They are under indeterminate sentences, and the thing they resent and complain about is that they do not know how long they are there: they do not know when they will get out. The sentence, they feel, ought to be fixed by the Judge, and not by the prison authorities. I do not suggest that favouritism or prejudice would come into it, but one can see how difficult it is for the prison authorities to avoid giving the impression that if there is an early release one may be favoured at the expense of the other. So before we go further, before we introduce further into this country the single indeterminate sentence, it requires, I suggest, careful consideration.
Apart from the question of sentencing, may I just say a word on the question of this work for criminals, and compare what we do here, in our country, with what I saw in Warsaw last summer. I was one of the first people from the West to visit a prison in Warsaw, and in that prison there was a complete printing works, with the prisoners being taught the printing trade. The printing works was producing books and periodicals for outside firms, who paid the full rates, and those prisoners were paid full wages, out of which there could be deducted an amount for the families and an amount for themselves. Then I come to this country. I visit a prison here, and what do I find? Work, perhaps, on mail bags, or on mats, compulsory work at the rate of 4s. a week—the price of a packet of cigarettes.
But worse than that—for those are prisoners who have been tried and sentenced—a great number of those in prison are awaiting trial. They may be there three, four or five months, awaiting trial, and they cannot be compelled to work 490 because they have not been sentenced; and in any case there is no work for them. So there they are, waiting in what this White Paper calls the most demoralising situation of all, enforced idleness in overcrowded prisons. If there were work for these men at proper wages, what an improvement there would be, and how many problems it would solve with it! Could there not be in these circumstances, if proper wages were paid, a 10 per cent. allowance to go to a fund to make restitution, which might be a better way of doing it than taxing the community at large? Could not a sum be put by to help the man on his discharge?
May I reinforce what the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said about after-care? A little while ago I tried a case of some Hungarians who had just come out—it was not a very serious offence. They were found work at a gypsum mine. They were in a hostel, but they had no money until they earned the first week's wages. They stooped to stealing a little fruit from a fruit stall, and were brought up before the court again for sentence. Of course they were bound over, but what a pity that they were not provided with something for the first week! There is a lot yet to be done. But this is, as has been said, treating the symptom of a disease. The disease is in the body politic itself. It is a loosening of moral standards, a decay of religion. It is up to us, each of us, to do our part in leading our country to a strong and healthy opinion, condemning wrongdoing and upholding the right.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, for two reasons I should like to add a word to the congratulations which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, has already received. First of all, he is an Ulverston man, and Ulverston was my holiday home as a boy. Secondly, I am now trying to carry on, as President of the Friends of the Lake District, the work which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, laid down on such admirable lines and to which he devoted such care and attention.
To come to the subject of this debate, as I have listened to the speeches I have inevitably been reminded of the reply made by President Coolidge when he was asked what the preacher had said about sin, which he had chosen as the subject 491 for his sermon. The President replied that he was "agin it". Every speaker in this debate is certainly "agin" crime, but when it comes to what we are to do about it that is quite another matter. I should like to tell my noble friend Lord Pakenham, who introduced this Motion, that I think, as always on these subjects, his speech did equal credit to his head and to his heart. The office of Home Secretary is, I think, reserved for a Member of another place; otherwise, I should look forward to seeing my noble friend in that office, for which he seems to me to be exactly made to measure. But, if he cannot occupy the chair when the reforms which he advocates come into being, as come they most certainly will, his name will be a prominent one amongst the pioneers.
He must, however, allow me to say that I cannot join with him in what he says about community callousness—I think those were his words. I do not think we can charge the ordinary man and woman with callousness about what is essentially a Government business. To my mind, the charge would be supportable only if the Government were to propose a series of reforms and found that public opinion was so opposed to them that they had to withdraw them. Then the community could fairly be accused of callousness. But I think that is most unlikely to happen. I do not foresee in the future a Government of any complexion losing a General Election on the issue of penal reform. We cannot allow the Government to make the excuse that in these matters they are held back by the force of public opinion. The second point is a very small one indeed. Lord Pakenham spoke about the difficult question of giving a testimonial to an ex-prisoner. It is a difficult matter to decide about, but in my opinion we must tell; otherwise the whole question of after-care may fall into disrepute. Therefore, I think, grievous though it sometimes may be to him, we have to tell.
I propose in my remarks to deal almost entirely with the question of the possibility of drawing a line between crime and sin. But there are two or three general remarks that I should like to make out of my experience as a magistrate. To me, almost the most, if not 492 the most, disturbing feature of crime today is the ganging up of young people for irresponsible, insolent behaviour, every part of the behaviour being disturbing. There is this dreadful idea of the gang, the carrying of weapons, the desire to intimidate, the use of any violence thought necessary, the hope of avoiding the consequences by frightening others or by the support of the gang. Case after case I read about coming up at the Old Bailey displays all these features. Getting "tooled up for the evening" is an expression used to describe arming themselves with the most lethal weapons.
May I add to what the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham has said about the Daily Mirror, which I think has performed a public service in getting together this collection of weapons which, as one could see, quite horrified your Lordships? But what has frightened me is that so many of these weapons are home-made—they are part of the modern campaign of "Do it yourself." It was clear that many of them had been made with loving care and with great skill. Of course we now lay such stress upon technical training for youth: here are some fruits of it! We see that the technical training is not thrown away; they become very good workmen indeed.
What is the cure for all this? I really cannot say: it is quite beyond me, as it is beyond so many people who are deeply concerned about these matters. The question of cure ran through the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, with a humanity in which I think we can take pride—the humanity of a judge. But in regard to cure there must be respect not only for the law but for the punishments of the law. I fear that, as we have been told to-day, imprisonment in present conditions is not the answer; nor do I think that detention centres are adequate for all cases of serious violence. I have heard it suggested that an expansion of Borstal on strict lines might be most helpful, but I should like to hear the opinions of experts upon that.
There is one point, however, which I should be grateful if the nobleLord, Lord Chesham, would bring to the notice of his right honourable friend—it is quite a short point, but I feel I must mention it. It concerns the sanitary arrangements in our prisons. At most prisons they 493 are simply appalling—there is no other word which can properly be used. How can one inculcate a clean mind and a healthy outlook unless the body can function normally in clean and healthy places? But, as things are, the morning lavatory parades are revolting, and they do not help anyone to feel self-respect. Instead they are likely to coarsen and toughen the man who is undergoing a sentence of imprisonment. While I know that the Home Secretary is pressed to do very much—he has been pressed to do a great deal to-day—I think that this question of sanitation in our prisons is one which we owe it to our good name as a country to take in hand without delay, and riot to rest until it has been put on a proper footing.
On this question of the distinction between crime and sin, I would say that the Wolfenden Report has of course triggered off a lively argument, and the arguments were well brought out in the debate in December, 1957. I feel that I should declare at once that I am totally opposed to those who, like such prominent leaders as the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, support the proposal in the Wolfenden Report that homosexualitypractised in private between consenting adults should be treated as a sin and not be subject to the law. The most reverend Primate wouldhave us draw a line between sin as an offence against God and crime as an offence against man-made law. But I really do not think that this can be done. Breaches of the Ten Commandments must certainly be regarded as offences against God, but several of them also are most certainly offences against society and, to my mind, offences against society are very often offences against God. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, defined exceeding the speed limit as a non-sinful activity. I am afraid he chose an example with which I cannot possibly agree. In view of the number of deaths on the road, I regard it as highly sinful.
My Lords, since the noble Lord is obviously quoting me, I can only say that I have changed my mind. I had forgotten I ever said that. I am sorry I ever said it.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, we will leave it at that. I read it as the noble 494 Lord's view and, as I say, I could not possibly agree that excessive speed is not a sin.
§ LORD WINSTER
We will leave it there. I rejoice that the noble Lord has altered his view, especially as so many of the victims of over-speeding are children whom we are taught particularly to consider with care and love. But I believe that a line between crime and sin can be only a most unsatisfactory compromise, with no solid basis of truth.
I do not want to get into metaphysical arguments, but I cannot accept the view expressed in the debate to which I have already referred that it is possible for A and B to sin together without, at the same time, doing harm to C—even though they may never meet C. I think John Stuart Mill has laid down the right belief. He said:There is nothing one does in private but has its public effect for good or evil.Those words seem to me to make nonsense of the view that the law should not interfere with private habits. We are all members one of another, and I do not believe that a sin can be thrown into the great pool of sin without setting into motion widening circles and ripples whose effect is incalculable. That, I admit, is an opinion but it is my opinion. I cannot accept the argument of the taxi-driver which was quoted in a previous debate (noble Lords will see how assiduous I have been) that "two chaps can carry on and do no harm to anyone." On the contrary, I entirely agree with Mr. Adair of the Committee that homosexuality cannot be kept the private affair of consenting adults. They will not be able to keep their affair secret. It will, quite inevitably, get out and the faot of its being known will affect and offend the community.
I must say I was shocked the other day when I read that a Motion in favour of the Wolfenden Report had been carried at the Oxford Union. The Oxford Union, of course, carry some very queer motions —they carried that celebrated motion about "not fighting for King or country"—but I thought that this was serious, especially when the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury once applied the words 495 "glamour" and "romance" to homosexuality, because, as we know, the young are very susceptible indeed to glamour and romance. I do not believe that the suggested alteration in the law proposed by the Wolfenden Committee will be carried and I do not know whether, if it were carried, it would enlarge or restrict the practice of homosexuality. The Report says that that practice is on the increase. All I would say is that regularising it is certainly not likely to decrease it. I believe that the danger of enlargement exists, and we should not take the risk of reducing what has always been regarded, with horror, as a crime, from a crime to a sin. The next step will be to reduce it from a sin to a peccadillo. Once we open the door the thing will go on.
I believe that there is a limit to the extent to which the law can be merciful and also do its duty to society. I do not know whether public opinion calls for demoting this practice from a crime to a sin. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, asserts in a letter to The Times which, with several others, he signed, that it does. Her Majesty's Government do not agree with that view, and the question I should like to ask is this: how on earth do the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the other signatories to that letter know that that is the state of public opinion? Have they any certain figures upon which they can base such an assertion? I do not think it would be possible to get such figures, yet the letter which the noble Earl signed says:The present law is clearly"—and I call attention to the word "clearly"—no longer representative of Christian or liberal opinion. Its continued enforcement will do more harm than good to the health of the community.Well, those may be the very honest views of the signatories to that letter. All I demur to is that they are claiming that those views represent public and Christian opinion in this country. I do not think they can have any evidence on which to base that assertion. As regards Christian opinion, at any rate, I notice that in your Lordships' House the right reverend Prelates the Bishops of Carlisle and Rochester have both opposed that view and one right reverend Prelate said that the Churches were evenly and 496 strongly divided on whether or not homosexuality is a sin or a crime. In view of that, I do not see how that letter can possibly represent a sound and worthwhile opinion.
I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, believes that a considerable number of people would prefer to leave things as they are and that the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, hailed what he called a "vigorous public reaction" against the proposal as evidence of the sense of right values. My noble friends Lord Lawson and Lord Mathers have both expressed their opinion that public feeling would be against such a change in the law.
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. I do not want to resume that debate in which I played rather a prolonged part, but unless I am much mistaken the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, agreed with the Wolfenden Committee, of which, of course, he was a member and therefore I am not quite clear whether the noble Lord, Lord Winster, can be quoting him correctly. I interrupt simply for the sake of the Record.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I will check that, but I see that I have that in my notes in inverted commas, and I have been reading that debate very carefully so I believe the probability is that I have quoted correctly. Noble Lords whom I have quoted, and others who are of the same opinion, probably feel, and I think quite rightly, that the fact of an act being against the law, being not sinful alone but also criminal, has an impressive effect, a more impressive effect than if it were regarded as a sin only. We are all miserable sinners, but few of us feel very unhappy about it, and I think that it is almost impossible to make people feel that what is legal can nevertheless be a sin.
The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack certainly does not think that the community support the Committee in their recommendation to make this change from crime to sin, and I believe we can rest assured that the noble and learned Viscount has very good advice and information on the subject. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, has laid down the essentials of a criminal offence. It must be wrongful, morally 497 reprehensible and disapproved by rightthinking people and it must be harmful to society at large. If those words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, ate accepted—as I think accepted they must be—it illustrates the difficulty of trying to separate sin from crime. The law largely sets our moral standards, and if the law does not punish it must condone: there is no alternative course. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, has been supported by Mr. Justice Devlin, who thinks it would be disastrous (that is the word he used) for the criminal law to separate crime from sin in this way. That is the important point to my mind: that it would be disastrous for the criminal law.
In a very weighty editorial The Times has come down most emphatically on the side of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning. and of Mr. Justice Devlin. That is a great weight ofargument to bring against that letter in The Times which I have quoted, and to my mindit puts that letter completely out of court. For the reasons I have endeavoured to give your Lordships I do not see how the signatories can possibly support or verify the statements which they made in that letter.
My Lords, I repeat, in conclusion. that if a law is abolished it will at once be thought that what was once an offence is an offence no longer, and gradually even the idea of its being a sin will fade from the human consciousness. I think it is more important for the law in defence of society to punish evildoers and the defence of society is, to my way of thinking, the primary duty of the law. Those are my reasons for believing that crime cannot be separated from sin, as some people would have it done.
I have been speaking, I know, in the area of morals, religion, opinions, conscience, and I hope that I have spoken without giving offence to those who think differently from me. 1 have endeavoured to do so. But if I have offended anyone then 1most sincerely apologise. But I have spoken as I was brought up to believe, and I can do no other. This of all times, especially, after what we have heard about crime to-day, is not the time to be blurring the outlines of what is crime. This is the last time we should he thinking of doing any such thing. For me, sin 498 and crime are almost entirely interlocked for me, this is unalterable, and I can only say that I could never accept spiritual or political guidance from those who think otherwise on this very vexed subject.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORT FOLIO (THE EARL OF DUNDEE)
My Lords, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor considered that the questions which your Lordships might wish to discuss in this debate might prove wide enough to make it desirable that a third Government speaker should be put in at about the middle of the debate and I hope that perhaps the second half of the debate may be the shorter one. A full reply to the debate on behalf of the Government will, of course, be made in due course by my noble friend, Lord Chesham, whose regular duty it is to answer on questions which concern the Home Office in your Lordships' House. I shall not trespass on his ground, but I shall try to comment on one or two of the matters which have been raised by the noble Lords, Lord Pakenham and Lord Silkin, and others of your Lordships who have spoken and at the same time my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has asked me to supplement the statement of Government policy which he has made and which applied only to England by giving your Lordships a little parallel information on the position in Scotland, where crime is dealt with by a different authority and a slightly different system of administration.
It seemed to me, my Lords, that the most interesting points which have so far been raised and discussed by your Lordships are of such a nature that they do not really admit of an authoritative reply and ought, rather, to be approached by all of us in a spirit of inquiry. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, was probably wise and certainly modest when he refrained from dilating on the causes of crime, although if he had felt inclined to do so he would have had a better excuse than most of us would have for throwing his weight about, since he has been engaged for six years in research on this subject, with the help of the Nuffield Foundation and of the Home Office and 1 cannot wait for the reprinting of the book which he mentioned. I am sure that it will be a most valuable contribution to this branch of criminology.
499 But I am equally sure that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, would agree that although this kind of research may give us useful information about average tendencies of human behaviour in certain given sets of circumstances, which unfortunately cannot always be foreseen, no amount of research can ever really resolve or explain the mystery of human will in which the origin of crime resides. A man is not a machine, neither is he the creature of his environment. We most certainly should always be ready to welcome back the prodigal son, as the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, so finely said at the end of his speech and, indeed, we ought probably to hope that we may be welcomed back ourselves. But we cannot tabulate, I think, a set of rules which can be said to govern and to explain the previous misbehaviour of the prodigal.
So far as I remember, all that this particular prodigal had done was, first, to be in rather a hurry to set out in search of adventure next, to waste his substance in riotous living, and, finally, to eat a few husks and none of these things is a criminal offence. It was, I think, on a rather different occasion that our Lord in the course of an argument with the Jews said to them:Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.My Lords, human nature, for reasons about which we may perhaps not agree with each other, but certainly in fact, is always in any circumstances eternally prone to do wrong, and the human will, which decides whether it shall do wrong or not and what kind of wrong it shall do, is free and sovereign. We cannot predict what popular fashion in the next generation or in this generation may catch the evil fancies of men collectively: neither can we ever tell what evil intentions will enter the mind of any human being.
One very common occasion of crime is poverty yet, as we have been rightly reminded by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and by other noble Lords, as poverty has nearly disappeared in Great Britain—or, at least, has very greatly diminished—crime has proportionately increased. That does not mean that poverty cannot be a cause of crime —of course it can: and it often is. All it means is that the criminologists who 500 used to think that if you abolished poverty you would abolish crime at the same time were wrong. I think we should be equally wrong if we were to assume that the present increase in crime is due to increased prosperity, to increased wages, or to our system of social services. Of course, there are a number of individual cases of children leaving school who immediately get a job at £8 or £10 a week, or perhaps even at more than their parents are earning, without really knowing what to do with it and they may find it easier to get into trouble than they would do if they were earning less, or nothing. But that is not enough to explain even the juvenile crime statistics, let alone the other figures. I have no doubt at all that there are a great many different causes operating to produce this alarming and disconcerting increase in the crime figures.
I think that there is little doubt that the major cause is that which was given by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, in his speech—that is, the decline in moral standards in so many parts of the world particularly, I should say, the decline in those beliefs on which the civic morality of Western Europe has always been founded. The decline in religious belief, here and in other Western countries, has been going on for about 100 years, and I think that over all this period we have, so to speak, been living on our religious capital, which must be expected to run short sooner or later. The Victorian materialists who had such an influence on all subsequent generations were usually good and moral people, but they were very optimistic: they thought it was inevitable that humanity would go on progressing, getting better and better, from one generation to another, especially if it was freed from its outworn superstitions, and they did not calculate that the flower of morality might not go on blossoming for ever if the roots were pulled up.
My Lords, of course the Government cannot do anything directly to create positive belief: that is the business and the purpose of the Churches. The Government can and ought, without compulsion, to encourage and facilitate religion in the country which it rules, and it should also do its best to protect decent family life both of which things, in our view, have a very great bearing on the crime position. We can and ought to 501 make it as easy as possible for religion to be taught in the schools, although we cannot, of course, compel religion to be taught to the children of parents who do not want it. We ought, as Lord Temple-wood suggested, to do more to link up, as he put it, the Government with the voluntary services: and in regard to our youth services, about which your Lordships had a debate a month or two ago (a debate which was also initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and in which the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, made such an excellent maiden speech), we ought to assist our principal youth services, which are doing so much good work, to promote good morals and religious belief. As your Lordships were told in that debate, the Government have appointed a very strong Committee on the subject under Lady Albemarle, which we hope will give us valuable advice before long.
There is another possible explanation of this increase in crime—an explanation which the Government do not accept and which I do not think any of your Lordships who have spoken in this debate would accept. However, it is a view which is quite widely held in the country, and it is reinforced sometimes by cases such as the Notting Hill case, to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, referred: namely, that the increase of crime is being caused by our change of attitude towards the criminal by our increasing emphasis on his welfare rather than on his punishment. and on his rehabilitation rather than on retribution. It is believed that people who want to commit a crime but who would be deterred from doing so by a severe and unpleasant punishment may think: "If I do commit this crime which I should like to commit, the worst that can happen is painless detention, with reasonably good food at the expense of the country for a period of time, with perhaps some useful industrial training, and a lot of attention paid to my welfare. Therefore, why shouldn't I commit the crime?"
My Lords, the Government do not hold that view neither, I think, do your Lordships. But, of course, as our policy of making prison conditions more enlightened, more humane, and better in every way for the prisoner, progresses, if crime statistics should at the same time continue to increase it is possible that we 502 may look a little foolish. We do not believe that that will happen. I hope very much that the theory of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, as to the crime bulge is right. He said he would not like to be dogmatic about it, and I am bound to say the same. No-one can be dogmatic about it. But, whether there is a crime bulge or not, the Government do not believe that the increase in crime is due to our new outlook, our new attitude, towards the prisoner, and the policy of the Government is based on that belief—that our present attitude to crime is the right one.
Although some of your Lordships may think that the White Paper which is before us does not go quite far enough, I think most of your Lordships will agree that it is probably the greatest advance in humane and enlightened prison administration which has taken place in the history of this country.
My Lords, if the noble Earl would forgive me, I should like to repeat what my noble friend Lord Silkin said. We are in no way niggardly of our appreciation of the White Paper as a programme of action, but as a record of results.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I entirely understand that. I do not think that we can complain at all either of the tone or of the substance of the criticism of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, or that of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who spoke in the same sense, except that he did not reinforce his arguments by the display of a number of lethal weapons. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and I were both members of another place and I think that if we had used such weapons for the purpose of oratorical illustration there, Mr. Speaker might have had something to say on the subject. We certainly do not complain because the main criticism of the White Paper is directed to the fact that it is only a White Paper and had not been put into action several years ago. I would ask your Lordships to remember that it was only a few years ago that building controls were abolished and that even now we have only a limited force of building labour and a limited amount of material at our disposal. There are many other demands on our building resources, such as slum clearance and new factories, and we cannot do everything at 503 once. Building, I think, is the most important priority in this problem, because all our plans for voluntary treatment in prison and welfare are not much good if there is not proper accommodation, if we have all these 6,000 people sleeping three in a cell.
If I may revert to the bulge, I would point out that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said that we ought to have foreseen this, as we foresaw the school bulge, and made our plans accordingly. I do not think it is quite so simple as that. We could foresee the school bulge because we knew how many children were born in a given year, but—and the noble Lord gave the figures—there was an actual decline in the number of crimes in the three years before 1954 and I do not think that it would have been reasonably possible to foresee the unfortunate increase which has taken place from 1954 onwards.
Now building is a first priority. As my noble and learned friend pointed out, in England the building programme is being put up this year from £1 million to £3 million and in Scotland from £132,000 to £435,000 that is, more than three times. The programme in Scotland includes two types of institution which will be new to Scotland. This is a point on which England is ahead of us we have been rather canny and watched whether they were going to be a success in England before we adopted them--the detention centre and the reception centre. In England, we have had detention centres for six years and study has confirmed that they have a constructive part to play in dealing with young offenders. The Secretary of State hopes to have one centre for the older age group in use before the end of the year and another for the younger group next year. It is also his intention to provide in Scotland within the next three years a remand centre for the reception and observation before sentence of young men committed by the courts.
The actual crime figures in Scotland show on the whole the same increases proportionately as in England in all age groups, with one curious exception. While, as the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, pointed out, crimes of violence in England have increased four to five times, 504 in Scotland they are still no more frequent than before the war. Why that should be so I do not know. Of course, crimes of violence are a fairly small proportion of the total number of crimes. I mention that just as an illustration of how complicated these crime statistics are and how difficult it is to come to any satisfactory conclusion from them.
My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has already mentioned the greatly expanded research programme which has been planned. In Scotland, the agencies for carrying out this important work are of two kinds—one unit, which serves both the Home Office and the Scottish Home Department. is at present working on a project based on the records kept at police headquarters in Glasgow, which are very full and elaborate and from which useful material can be extracted for analysis and work as this proceeds. All particulars of first offenders in 1947 are being examined, and their progress during the next ten years will be investigated so that some indication may be obtained of the effectiveness of the methods which the courts use in disposing of first offenders. The Secretary of State has lately set up a Scottish council of experienced men and women to advise him on first offenders. The chairman of the council is Sheriff Leslie and is members include people of wide and varied experience in Parliament, the courts, the detection of crime, social work and the academic study of criminology.
Another feature of the penal system which they are going to inquire into is the probation system and service. A wide range of investigation is about to be started as to the Scottish service as well as the English, and the Government hope that it will effect further improvement in this well-tried method of treatment. While the inquiry is proceeding, of course the service is not standing still. This coming week-end a conference week has been convened by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, at which representatives of the Scottish courts, the probation committees, the police and the universities, will be pooling their experience of probation with a view to improving the method and extent of its use. Continued efforts are also being made in Scotland to improve and develop the existing arrangements for custodial treatment of both young and adult offenders. 505 In spite of the difficulties which have resulted from the increase in the number of inmates of prisons in recent years, a number of advances have been made. Trade training, employment both inside and outside institutions, educational and recreational facilities are being developed. "Training for freedom" schemes, under which men in institutions go out daily towards the end of their sentences to work unsupervised with private employers, are being extended. The psychiatric services in I3orstals and prisons are growing in extent and in value, and all these improvements are gradually transforming the prisons and Borstals and bringing them nearer to our goal of fitting the offender to lead a useful life on his discharge and establishing in him his will to do so.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, asked me particularly to tell him how the Streatfeild Committee were getting on. I indicated dissent, not because I did not care about it, but because there is nothing more to tell him. There is no fresh information. As the noble Lord no doubt knows, the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, is a member of this Committee, which was set up last year. It is still examining evidence and it is impossible to say when it will produce its Report. I think that its purpose and the value which we expect the courts to obtain from its advice is fully described in paragraphs 12 to 14 of the White Paper which your Lordships have before you.
The noble Lord also wanted me to tell him about whether we were still combining children who had committed offences with children who were merely in need of care and attention in approved schools. The answer is that we are. The law provides that boys who require care and attention are sent to approved schools. Although these boys and girls have not committed any offence they often need exactly the same special form of training and education that approved schools provide. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, and any of your Lordships who may have experience of the work of juvenile courts, will confirm that it is often a matter of accident whether a boy or girl who comes before the court is charged with an offence or just as being in need of care and protection—on the ground, for example, that his or her parents are not 506 exercising proper guardianship and often parental neglect and delinquency go together.
I am sure your Lordships were impressed by the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, and of course what he said, with his great authority, will be carefully considered by the Home Secretary. The only point I would make to the noble and learned Lord about the indeterminate sentence is this. I think I am right in saying that the Borstal sentences are at present indeterminate—they are from nine months to three years; and I do not think there would be any difference in principle between that and the proposal made by the Prison Commissioners which caused the noble and learned Lord some concern.
In the last twenty years this country has had two Home Secretaries who had hereditary connections with criminal reformers of the past: first, the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, who has spoken in this debate and who is descended collaterally from Elizabeth Fry and secondly, the present HomeSecretary, who is connected by descent with Josephine Butler. Both of them, in their period of office, have sought to introduce widespread changes in principle in regard to prison administration in producing a more liberal attitude towards the care and welfare of prisoners.
The progress of the reforms contemplated by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, was stopped by the outbreak of war, but we very much hope that the progress of these reforms envisaged by the present Home Secretary, Mr. Butler, will not be frustrated by continued increase in the crime statistics, because it is that increase which, more than anything else, makes it so difficult and upsets all the calculations on which our building plans et cetera are made. There is no one in this country who can help the Home Secretary's programme more than the criminals themselves, if only they would agree to commit a few less crimes. What any Government or Parliament would have to do if the present crime wave went on increasing is a matter which need not be anticipated now. I was glad to hear the tribute paid by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, to the Home Secretary, and I suggest to your Lordships that there is no one whose purpose in penal reform is more firmly set, or who will pursue that 507 purpose with greater perseverance, than the present Home Secretary.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, it is difficult for a mere Sassenach to follow the earlier part of the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, in which he dealt with some of those metaphysical problems which are so popular on the other side of the Border. But when the noble Earl came down to the practical realities of the situation, and when, in particular, he emphasised the fact that this problem of crime has to be seen in a wide perspective, and that other ameliorative measures, such as the fostering of boys' clubs and matters of that kind, must be taken into account and pursued, then my mere Anglo-Saxon brain can follow his argument and agree with it. It is very late, and one's natural inclination is to sit down quite soon, but other noble Lords have resisted this impulse with such success during the last few hours that I feel I must crave your Lordships' indulgence for a few minutes to comment on some of the interesting and important speeches which have been made.
I have taken part, I think, in all the discussions on penal reform which have taken place in your Lordships' House during the last ten years or so, and it is rather difficult not to repeat some, at any rate, of the arguments which one has advanced on previous occasions. I feel that one ought to read one's earlier speeches through before taking part in a discussion of this kind, otherwise one tends to say exactly the same things over and over again. But I should, in any case, like to add my own small tribute to that so eloquently paid by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, and which indeed has been echoed by almost every subsequent speaker, to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, on his exceptionally eloquent maiden speech. The noble and learned Lord is a fellow-countryman of mine, and therefore I can take pride in the outstanding success of his speech in a way which perhaps other noble Lords are hardly able to do. I feel that to the distinguished list of forensic orators which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack gave to us he could have added another equally brilliant forensic orator, who also comes from that part of England lying to the 508 north of the Sands, equally a great Liberal and a great reformer, Lord Chancellor Brougham.
I feel tempted to cross swords with my noble friend Lord Winster, because I disagree with almost everything he said. It seemed to me that the speech which he delivered this evening he had prepared for some other debate, because what he said had so little relevance to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, which was concerned with reform, punishment in prisons and matters of that kind, and not really with the Wolfenden Report. However I resist that temptation to cross swords with my noble friend.
The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack gave us an exceedingly interesting and detailed account of the Government's programme and work in these matters, and if one were to discuss all that he said it would take a long time. I could not help feeling a good deal of sympathy with his rather emotional peroration, in which he called for a crusade in regard to this matter. Yet I have a great deal of suspicion of crusades. As one who studied history at the university a long time ago, I seem to remember that the Crusades in the Middle Ages led to more evil and wickedness than any good that they did, and that one of them, in particular, succeeded in destroying the only bulwark against the Mohammedan Turks that was left in the East of Europe.
I feel that we are more likely to make progress in the detailed slogging way that has been recently followed by Sir Lionel Fox and his fellow Prison Commissioners. In actual fact social problems are better handled on the basis of empirical knowledge and close research and study of what actually happens in society than by means of emotional appeals such as take place during crusades. These often generate a good deal of enthusiasm which tends to dissipate itself rather quickly.
The main point in the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, has been answered by the noble Earl who has just resumed his seat—I refer to the question of indeterminate sentences. Of course, the principle has been introduced into this country, as the noble and learned Lord himself indicated in his speech, in the Borstal treatment. It has, in fact, been found better, after a long experience of sentencing boys to specific periods of Borstal training, to leave the period indefinite. This matter of the indeterminate 509 sentence is undoubtedly one which is disliked by large numbers of people in this country. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, has indicated that it is quite common abroad. He might have gone on to say that in some of the most important Commonwealth countries indeterminate sentences have been used for quite a time, and with considerable success. I cannot say that I personally have made up my mind about it. I think it is a pity to approach it in the rather emotional way in which it seemed to me the noble and learned Lord was approaching it. It is one of the matters which might well be entrusted to the new Institute, for careful research into the results in other parts of the world, because we must not in this country think we have a monopoly of ability in regard to handling problems of this kind.
One of the interesting things about today's debate is that there have been so many entries into what the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, I think, once called the "Criminal Club" which in past debates has consisted of a small number of people who have spoken every time. I am sure your Lordships will agree that we have missed the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, whose contributions on past occasions were of such outstanding interest and so brilliantly delivered. I think the number of speakers who have taken part in the discussions to-day is tangible evidence of the growing interest and concern of the community as a whole in this problem.
One of the difficulties of those of us who have been interested in these matters over the years has been to get the community itself to appreciate the importance of this problem and to become really alive to it. But I feel that that situation has changed, and the fact that the admirable report of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenhain, has already sold out is further evidence to this effect. As all of those of us who have been mixed up with the Howard League, the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency, and other organisations, know, it has been extremely difficult to scrape together the small amount of finance which is required to keep even cheaply run organisations of that kind going. The magnificent donation which we hear has been made by Lord Nathan's Committee for the new Institute at Cambridge positively makes one's mouth water, when one has 510 been thinking in sums of tens, or hundreds, of pounds, at the outside, over so many years.
Exactly the same sort of impression is gained from the work of the magistracy, which was so interestingly spoken of by the noble Baroness in her excellent speech. I am sure that since I first practised in magistrates' courts (now something like forty years ago) the understanding and sympathy among the magistracy in regard to the sentencing and the treatment of the criminals who come before them has been revolutionised. That is one of the most encouraging aspects of this problem. Many benches now, I am quite sure, are as good as Her Majesty's Judges themselves in dealing with these questions of sentencing, and some of them, I think, are perhaps even better than some of the Judges, because not all the Judges have had much experience of criminal work before they go on circuit. As the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, pointed out on the last occasion, there is a good deal to be said for giving even the Judges, or some of them, some sort of training in their work. I am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, is not here to-day. He was, in effect, a part-time member of the "Criminal Club." I hope the fact that he is not addressing us to-day does not mean that he is resigning from it.
On the last occasion I suggested that it would be a useful innovation if the Judges who do this work on Assize could sit with a small panel of magistrates at the point when they come to consider the sentence. As I then said, it must be difficult for a sensitive Judge, sensitive to the difficulty of these problems—and most of Her Majesty's Judges, I am sure, fall into that category—to have to decide these difficult cases completely on his own responsibility, and without the opportunity of discussing the problem with experienced and knowledgeable men and women of the world. While the Judges who go frequently on circuit quickly gain a great deal of valuable experience, there are other Judges in criminal courts, and particularly Recorders, many of whom do not get enough criminal work to get the experience which is necessary in order to do this work properly. I think it would be helpful to them, or many of them, if they, too, could have the advantage of a panel 511 such as I have suggested—not necessarily doing more than taking part in discussions and advising, and not necessarily having the burden of actually giving the decision, but people with whom the Judge or the Recorder could discuss the problem before he made up his mind.
I should like to say that I welcome the White Paper just as enthusiastically as anybody who has spoken about it this afternoon. Indeed, I took it upon myself as President of the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency to write to the Home Secretary, when the White Paper first appeared, congratulating him upon it. There are parts of it which, like the curate's famous egg, are not quite so good as others, and I entirely agree with the remark made earlier this afternoon by the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Exeter, that the tempo is too slow. But one quite understands, as the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, pointed out, that it is exceptionally difficult for a Home Secretary to persuade his colleagues in the Cabinet—all of whom have their own pet schemes for which finance is required—to agree to let him have all the money which he requires in order to push through his own particular schemes.
There is one important point, however, to which I should like to refer—it was mentioned by the noble Earl who resumed his seat a moment ago: that is, the remand centres. They receive very cursory treatment in the White Paper. I do not want to go into this matter at any length, because I devoted a good deal of time to it in my last speech. This is a matter which has been investigated by a Committee and which has a long history in other countries: Belgium, particularly, has been a pioneer in this respect. In Sir Lionel Fox's classic work on our prison system there is an outstanding section in regard to the importance of these remand centres, and it does not seem to me that four or five lines in the White Paper is adequate to deal with a matter of such importance. I myself regard the remand centre as a good deal more important than the detention centre, which receives a good deal longer treatment and which has been referred to a great deal this afternoon.
I could not let this matter of the White Paper go by without adding my own congratulations to the Home Secretary upon 512 his having at last brought into existence, or almost brought into existence (because I do not think the birth has yet actually taken place), the new Institute for Criminological Research. But I would emphasise that we must not think that, now that we are getting the Institute, everything in the garden is rosy. This is only the beginning. In particular, I think it is essential that we should not put all our eggs into one basket. It is rather the habit of research institutes to follow a particular line, sometimes to the exclusion of other lines. I think it would be altogether wrong if it were now to be thought that all the research ought to be done at Cambridge. It is already rather disquieting that Oxford has decided not to appoint a new Reader in Criminology on the termination of Dr. Grünhut's Readership, which will take place very soon. It would be a great pity if Oxford were to close down the excellent work which Dr. Grünhut has led in that University during the last fifteen years or so.
One must remember, too, that as appears from the Appendix in the White Paper, a good deal of work is going on in different university schools of sociology at the present time. The difficulty has been to find the finance. The result of this is that it is, in fact, going to be exceedingly difficult to get adequately good work done at Cambridge during the next few years. I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Pakenham about this and disagree both with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, and with the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack. If I may say so, while both of them have had a good deal more experience of administration of the criminal law than the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. I think that he probably knows more about research work, because he has given a good deal of his life to problems of research—as indeed I myself have—and anybody who has worked in research departments must know that you cannot just suddenly decide you are going to do research.
§ LORD BIRKETT
Would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I ought to have said, when I was speaking about that matter, that the reason why I thought that the fruits of research would be quickly available was because for many years the Department of Criminal Science in Cambridge has been working on these problems.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I could go into that matter at considerable length with the noble and learned Lord. What the Department at Cambridge has been largely doing is historical work, and work into the substantive law. As to criminological work, it has not so far done a great deal. It has recently published the volume mentioned by the noble Lord, which is very good from certain points of view, but it has been severely criticised in other aspects. That indicates the great difficulty there is in getting together the effectively trained staff to do this sort of work. In the Institute with which I have been connected for some years we find it exceedingly difficult to keep our research workers because of the question of finance; and if your Lordships look at this particular Appendix to the White Paper you will not find the Institute for the Study of Delinquency mentioned, because it so happens that when this came out one particular research had come to an end, and the finance required to embark on the new one, which is now to be subsidised by the Home Office, had not been obtained. That shows how tenuous this matter has been over the last years. That makes me agree with what has been said by the noble Lords, Lord Pakenham and Lord Silkin, in regard to this matter.
I should like to close by saying something about the Probation Service, which has been referred to by a number of speakers this afternoon. In my own experience as a Chairman of Quarter Sessions have become more and more impressed by the value of the Probation Service, particularly in the last year or two, in cases where we have decided to give a number of men who have broken their recognisances, or have been in trouble on previous occasions, another chance by putting them on probation. And how often this has come off! It is most encouraging, and even if it does fail from time to time I think in the end it pays because, as has been emphasised by more than one speaker to-day, it is of the greatest value to keep a man out of prison if that can be done fairly to society. If he is out of prison, he is earning his keep and contributing to the work of the community, whereas in prison the problem of finding him any sort of useful work, as was pointed out by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, is exceptionally difficult; and, of course, it costs the community something 514 like £300 or more per annum to keep him in prison. The probation officer provides what seems to me to be one of the essential lacks at the present time, what we might call "Big Brother" discipline.
I listened with sympathy to what the `right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter said about the value of enlisting the help of teachers in the schools in this work of trying to improve the morale of the children. It seems to me, however, that the problem goes back beyond that, into the family itself, and that one of the main weaknesses which is causing the crime wave, or so-called crime wave, is the fact that discipline in the family nowadays is a good deal slacker than it used to be some years ago. I think one of the great values of the good probation officer is that he can provide quite a lot of discipline, and that he can, and does, do so in a sympathetic and brotherly manner; and that seems to me to be one of the reasons why, on the whole, the Probation Service is proving so successful.
I am particularly glad that the Advisory Committee at the Home Office is looking to a much fuller use of the Probation Service in connection with after-care. It seems to me that we should do much better in connection with aftercare arrangements to expand the Probation Service and have a larger number of probation officers to do this work, rather than set up some new sort of service. In my experience, the probation officer gets an extraordinarily good knowledge of the employment situation in his own particular district. Our own probation officer in Westmorland has an almost uncanny capacity for getting jobs for his "customers." Settling a man in a job is one of the best ways of keeping him straight.
Therefore, my Lords, it seems to me that if, after these men are discharged from prison, the probation officer takes charge of the case there is an exceptionally good chance of the man being put into a job; and if he is put into a job there is a much better chance that he will keep straight. It seems to me that here we have a most valuable line of approach in dealing with the problem of after-care which has most properly figured so largely in the speech of my noble friend, Lord Pakenham, and which I know, from 515 discussions which I had with the late Miss Margery Fry (whose name has been mentioned so often in the debate), she regarded as perhaps the most important of all the problems in connection with penal reform at the present time. I congratulate the Home Secretary upon his admirable White Paper, and I hope that we shall all see it implemented during the next few years.
§ 9.31 p.m.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, there is no concealing from myself that what I have stood up to say to-night may be taken as not entirely in the best of taste. I should like to say at the outset that I have every sympathy with those who might be inclined to look upon it in that way. All I can hope is that by the time I have finished speaking noble Lords will have realised and recognised at least the sense of compulsion under which I speak and the true reason for speaking as I do. At a time like this, when a policeman's lot appears to be not only unhappier but more hazardous and more exhausting than it has ever been before, anyone must feel reluctant to imply criticism in any form of policemen or of police methods. It is all too easy to be an armchair strategist, and I am very sensible indeed of my own situation in defending the rule of law vocally from well behind the line while those who defend in the front are frequently killed or wounded in the performance of their duty. But just as we know that not all soldiers are brave and patriotic, we also know that not all policemen are kindly, patient and incorruptible.
We take pride in the fact that the great majority of them in this country possess these qualities, but I should not think that it was to the benefit of that majority or to the reputation of the force as a whole, to pretend that these qualities were universal to it. The only policeman with whom I can claim any close acquaintance possesses those qualities to an inspiring degree, but I do not think that he would promote, nor do I think that he would respect me for promoting, the legend that all British policemen live up to the high level of behaviour set by the best of them and required by any police force. One former high officer at Scotland Yard to whom I have spoken lately has told 516 me that the bane of his existence in the undermining of police authority while he was in his high office at Scotland Yard was crooked policemen.
The reluctance that I have mentioned, to impede the police in any way, is overshadowed, to my mind, by the evident and alarming fact that a large and increasing element of our own population, particularly perhaps our own younger population, is coming to look upon the police as their enemy rather than as their friends and protectors. I was told only this afternoon, not giving me time to inquire and corroborate it, that there was recently a semi-public inquiry, held I believe by a newspaper, in which the public were questioned as to what they would do if they found a policeman struggling with an assailant. It became clear that few of them realised that it was their legal duty to go to the assistance of the policeman. But what was more alarming was that a large proportion of them said that they would go to help the assailant of the policeman. However we may think or believe, or even hope, that at least a certain proportion of those who answered in that way were making a facetious answer, I think that that attitude is in itself very disturbing.
This dangerous and tragic illusion about the police can do more, I claim, to impede the police and to assist the professional criminal than anything else. In seeking its possible causes, or one of its possible causes, I have come across what seems to me a most disturbing factor—namely, the methods sometimes employed by police questioning to extract statements from people under question which may amount to confessions. Many of the lawyers with whom I have spoken in the past few days have not hesitated to refer to the state of mind of people under police questioning as being "frightened", "confused" or even "terrified". It is obvious that although a valid statement in such conditions is not excluded, nor is it ensured, the approach in any case is odious.
I should have thought we should not normally question suspects under the influence of drink or drugs. To my mind another worry arises because there are used in other countries things called truth drugs, which are obviously never used on purpose by the police here. On the other hand, if a suspect should be questioned 517 under the influence of drink or a drug it is not important, as far as the result is concerned, whether that truth drug or potion was applied by the police or not. The fact is that if the suspect is under the influence the evidence he gives while under that influence should be regarded as completely invalid. I seriously wonder, from what I have heard in recent weeks, whether it is really always regarded as invalid.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, would the noble Lord permit me to ask whether he is making an accusation that witnesses have been interrogated under the influence of drugs with the knowledge of the police?
LORD ST. OSWALD
No. In point of fact, I was saying that they would not be interrogated under the influence of drugs. In fact, I was just at that moment about to quote from the book by Mr. William Sargant from which I have already on several occasions quoted, where the author condemns Russian police methods. It is a book in which the author also includes a passage in which he says:Even in Great Britain to-day false confessions arc sometimes elicited quite unknowingly despite the acknowledged integrity of the British police, especially when evidence is being collected by them which may result in a suspect's prosecution, trial for murder and his subsequent hanging.From that point forward he goes on to cite the particularly obvious case of Timothy Evans, which I should not like to cite at any great length because it has been mentioned so frequently in this sort of context before. But he does describe —this, think, is tremendously important to the point that I am trying to make—the mental state of Evans from the time of his arrest through the various stages: his flight to Wales, his meeting with the new police inspector, the various discoveries that were brought home to him, the news of the death of his daughter whom lie loved, and finally the state of mind in which he found himself when he made a later detailed confession to both murders—a confession which has been strongly questioned by many thoughtful people since.
That, of course, was an altogether out-of-the-ordinary case, but my inquiries of recent days have led me to believe that to a lesser extent the same sort of thing is happening every week or nearly every 518 week. There is a vivid fear—I say this to the noble Lord who may challenge me if he likes—not chiefly among habitual criminals, of what is known as "the verbals". The "verbals" are oral statements taken by a police officer before any charge is made, or before the suspect is taken into custody. Such a statement, when read out in court, may depend for its accuracy at best on the policeman's memory when he writes up his notes, perhaps two or three hours after the interview at worst, it can be a near fabrication or a lavish embroidery of what was said if the policeman is dishonest and determined upon a conviction. I am told that, without any strong awareness that it constitutes unfair coercion or persuasion, some policemen will say, "If you make this statement, pleading guilty, we can make it easier for you", or "We can keep it quieter", or "We can see to it that the others 'cop it' worse than you do."
It is the oral statement which is most feared and resented. But even the written statement is seldom, if ever, in the words of the detained person himself or herself. It is not even in a true sense a voluntary statement, for although it may read as a spontaneous statement it is the result of question and answer, in which there can be put into the mouth of the person concerned words or affirmations to suit the police case. I have been told that one psychiatrist attached to a large prison has claimed that he could tell from the language and phrasing of a prisoner's statement in which police station it was taken. it may be of some encouragement to learn that individual police officers have identifiable literary styles, but the means of discovery cannot, I feel, be any encouragement whatever. Plainly, I should have thought, those most liable to succumb to this method are not the "old lags", who know their rights, or the rich men who can call on a lawyer and know their way about, but the inexperienced, nervous and even, conceivably, innocent persons involved in a criminal action, who may thus be driven a long step towards habitual crime as a profession.
What I find of very great interest is that this cannot happen, for instance, in India, under the Evidence Act, 1872, which has remained unchanged since British rule. In Sections 24 to 26 of that Act it is laid down, first, that, 519A confession caused by inducement, threat or promise is inadmissible"—which, of course, exists in England but subsequently safeguards are provided which, to the best of my knowledge, are absent from English law. Section 25 of the Act states:No confession made to a police officer shall be proved against a person accused of any offence.Section 26 states:No confession made by any person whilst he is in the custody of a police officer, unless it be made in the immediate presence of a magistrate, shall be proved as against that person.This is corroborated in the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, so that we have the rather remarkable situation that in fact a citizen of India, as a result of having once been under British rule, enjoys greater protection than some British citizens themselves.
I say "some British citizens", because in Scotland they are better protected than the citizens of England, to the extent that in one famous case in Scotland, which I have been studying to-day, John Chalmers v. H.M. Advocate, the case was decided against the prosecution, and in favour of the accused, by Lord Justice-General Cooper, on the ground that the incriminating statement had been made only in the presence of a police officer and was therefore not valid in court. I believe I am right in saying that that would never have happened in England, for the same protection does not in fact exist. Obviously, in the presence of great lawyers I hesitate to say anything dogmatic, but it is my impression that in England, Wales and Northern Ireland the same protection would not have been extended. There have, indeed, been instances of frankly unsavoury procedure in obtaining convictions in recent years. I am thinking of the case of the kennel girls some weeks ago, and the Curran case, in Northern Ireland, in 1953.
I do not want to draw attention to dramatic, highly publicised or out-of-the-way cases. It is the everyday case and everyday practice that has been my theme. There is the practice of saying to a man or a woman under questioning, "We know everything—better come clean."Or," Your pal has split'. It is no good covering up for him." In that context I was sent to-day some papers which, again, are to me of a very dis- 520 turbing nature. They are under a covering letter from a solicitor in which he says:I enclose statements recently taken by me in connection with a case, which I have my client's permission to send you, but only on the basis that no names are to be disclosed nor anything which might identify the place, since he feels that the police will victimise him.Let us hope that that is a completely unjustified fear, but to my mind it is a pretty terrible thing that in this country such fear can exist, and I am bound to say that on reading the statement I can see how that fear came to exist.
This is a small man being interviewed by his lawyer and describing what he has said to the police. He says:The police began by saying to me that this business had been going on for a long time. I said it hadn't and he said, Well. look, I've got it here from your employer', and he pointed at a document. In the end he more or less copied down the statement for me. And although I said it wasn't true, he made me sign it. His method was to say, The wording is this, as put by your employer', and then he would read out what my employer had apparently said to them, and as he spoke he wrote it down and really gave me no chance to argue about it.From the first I had said, 'I don't know anything about this because I've been away ill'. But he had replied, I don't care about that, but I've got to get a statement and I've got it from your employer here, and you've got to say the same thing or else it'll be the worse for you. Tell no lies. It's all down here. I've got it, the truth, and you've got to say the same thing '. Having written it all down he read it over to me and then he passed it over to me and told me to sign it and so I did what I was told. I have never had the pleasure of dealing with the police before nor have I had occasion to consult any solicitor about my rights in this matter. I was thoroughly frightened by what they said and I thought it was the best thing to do to do as they told me. I now know better.It is difficult for an armchair strategist in this field to express more than dismay or to make positive proposals, especially when in theory full protection already exists. I am sorry to say that I have not read the Judges' Rules but I understand that it is specified that the duty of the police is to question a suspect or witness with a view to obtaining facts, not with a view to obtaining a conviction. If, in the course of questioning, an officer begins to suspect that the person is the perpetrator of the offence in question, he must stop and leave the rest to the court. I feel that if this were made the criterion of all criminal prosecutions, and if police officers questioning suspects were obliged 521 to emphasise their right to keep silence until their trial, instead of coercing them, by whatever means, to make a statement, the prestige of the police in this country would be enhanced. They would work in harmony in a more co-operative atmosphere.
I believe that this popular impression that the police are keener on getting a conviction than preventing crime could be completely dispelled, and once it was dispelled they would work henceforward and proceed more effectively with their dedicated and courageous task, supported by the full confidence of their countrymen. They would in fact be—which they are only in part to-day—the proper instrurnent of what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, in his very moving speech to-day, described as the "denunciation of crime by the community at large".
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, might I ask him whether he is aware that he has made some very serious accusations against the police force of this country and that if he has any evidence to support the accusations which he has made this evening he is duty bound to lay that evidence before either the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack or the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary? His remarks, if they are not substantiated, will have a very adverse effect on the morale of the police force of this country.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, my impression is that I have gone out of my way, as far as I can, to make perfectly plain that I am not making an attack on the police force of this country. I have mentioned one or two cases which I can substantiate, and will do if necessary, but I have avoided doing what is suggested and I believe noble Lords will agree that I have gone absolutely as far as I could in making it perfectly plain that I do not believe that those cases are characteristic of the police forces of this country and that they let down the very excellent standard of the great majority of our police officers.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, I normally enjoy the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, but I did not enjoy the speech he has just made. I think he proceeded by quite a wrong method. His 522 arguments were based on a fallacious procedure. He made a series of very damaging generalised statements and produced little evidence to support them. If he has found evidence of corruption in individual cases or in methods of handling individual cases, then I think it is his duty, as my noble friend, Lord Shepherd, has said, to have these individual cases properly and fully investigated and only when they have been properly and fully investigated is he entitled to make any generalised sort of criticism, for this reason: that the work of the police in interrogating criminals, and non-criminals, is perhaps the most difficult kind of work that anybody in this country undertakes. These people are often very wicked people they are people who are very much given to lying as a part of their nature, and they often give false accounts of their interviews with the police, for obvious reasons. Therefore, it is vital to check up any such allegations made by prisoners of maltreatment by the police. I am convinced myself that it is a very rare occurrence indeed. I am convinced that if any such cases are brought to the notice of the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor they will be thoroughly investigated.
My Lords, twice recently I have had to begin a speech by making a declaration of interest. Today I have to do so again for the rather unusual reason that I live in what the noble Viscount, Lord Temple-wood, described as "that ridiculous sham Windsor Castle in Holloway Road." As a matter of fact, he was not quite accurate, because it is in fact a sham Warwick Castle and it is situated in Parkhurst Road, even though it is called Holloway Prison. I have lived there for some fourteen years because my wife is Governor. I am, then, a penologist by marriage in one sense. But I must make it absolutely clear that I am in no way echoing or acting as a mirror or channel for my wife's views. Her interests are in the practical treatment of criminals, whereas I am entirely concerned with the social and psychological causes of crime. I trained in general medicine first, and then went to psychiatry, and then to sociology but my special interest has always been in preventive medicine, whether of the individual or the community.
At the end of this month Canon Raven, former Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge 523 University, is publishing a book on science, medicine and morals, in which I understand he suggests that the methods which have been so successful in medicine should now be applied to the illnesses of society and with this hypothesis I personally am in full agreement. There have been over the last two decades very dramatic advances in medical science, but these are the culmination of two and a half centuries of patient clinical practice. In the social sciences and in penology we are still in the early stages. We are still very often proving the obvious or demonstrating simple truths which appear obvious once they have been proved. The first step in medicine is to describe the natural history of each disease so that we can diagnose it correctly and then predict the course it is going to follow—make a good prognosis. This job of working out correct diagnoses and accurate prognoses has taken many hundreds of years to complete. Only when we can do that are we in a position to assess the effect of treatment.
Nowhere is the study of the natural history of disease more important than in mental and nervous conditions. Fortunately, most of these conditions have a tendency to recover spontaneously. Some of the more fanciful forms of psychological treatment have failed to take account of this simple fact. Indeed, the number of recoveries which they produce are no greater than would have occurred had there been no treatment at all. Fanciful speculation about the mind is of value if it stimulates honest research and experiment but if it masquerades as truth when it is only 'hypothesis, then it delays real progress in the search for truth.
Fortunately, there is growing up in this country a school of intellectually tough psychiatry which applies the same criteria to the problems of the mind as those which have proved so successful in general medicine. I had the good fortune to be trained in that school, centred at the Maudsley Hospital, though its influence is now widely diffused. What I shall have to say about psychiatry and crime I shall draw largely from the researches made by the younger members of that school, in particular Doctor Trevor Gibbens and Doctor Maurice Carstairs. Here may I say how grateful I was that 524 I had the privilege of working in the room next to my noble friend Lord Pakenham when he and I were both working for the Nuffield Foundation and how stimulating I found it to see the research work which he was doing. He i; a most vigorous research worker and one of the quickest research workers I have ever come across, and how he gets through it all I do not know.
I should like first to ask the question: what can psychiatry contribute to a study of crime? The psychiatrist is an expert in mental illness, in its diagnosis and treatment, and not in normal mentality. He may, or may not, be a good judge of character. He is neither better nor worse than The rest of us outside his own special sphere. Secondly, the relation of conventional mental illness as such to crime is a very limited one. The classical study was made in New York some years ago by Doctor Walter Bromberg, who made a psychiatric study of nearly 10,000 consecutive, convicted felons. He found of these felons that 1.5 per cent. were mad, suffering from psychosis 7 per cent. were suffering from neurosis and 2.5 per cent. were mentally defective. These figures are not significantly different from those for the rest of the community, except that the mental-defective figure is slightly higher. This is, in fact, what one might expect from a study of another group of figures.
The prisons and Borstals of this country contain roughly 26,000 people, and the approved schools another 7,000. Of these I think that about one-twentieth are women. My noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger was puzzled over the difference in criminological behaviour between boys and girls. I think that perhaps part of the answer is to be found when we compare the population of our prisons with the population of our mental hospitals. The total figure in mental hospitals is over eight times the total figure for the prisons and approved schools. There are upwards of 150,000 patients in our mental hospitals, of whom substantially more than 50 per cent. are women. If we took, then, the excess number of women in our mental hospitals and equated them with the criminal figures, we might find the two getting somewhat similar. It is as though (and I hope I shall show it in a minute) when ladies go wrong they go wrong mentally rather than criminologically, but it may 525 be that they are showing similar behaviour patterns.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
My Lords, has the noble Lord taken account of the fact that in mental hospitals the female excess are largely those in much older age groups, and their presence there is due to the longer survival period of women?
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, I have not taken account of that fact and I think maybe it is very valid. It is precisely the sort of fact which I think should he, and I hope will be, thoroughly studied by the new research units. The main point which I was setting out to make, however, was that conventional mental illness is not an important fact in the cause on crime and I hope that the noble Baroness will agree with me at least in that, even if she does not agree about the other point.
Returning to Dr. Bromberg's 10,000 felons, 40 per cent. were mentally completely within the range of normality they were completely normal people. That leaves 50 per cent., who were mentally out of the normal run, but not conventionally mentally ill. This group presented a consistent pattern. At one extreme there were 10 per cent. of psychopaths, of whom I will say more in a moment. The remaining 40 per cent. showed some degree of persistent character abnormality: there were emotionally unstable, 10 per cent. shiftless, 9 per cent. aggressive, 7 per cent. egocentric, 6 per cent. passive and weak, 5 per cent.. and so on. These people shaded gradually into the true psychopathic personality. It was not a sharp transition, but a matter of degree. It follows, I think, /hat criminality, in so far as it is a problem of psychiatry, is largely a problem of what is called the psychopaths. The psychopaths are a group for whom psychiatrists can do least, in our present state of knowledge. Indeed, in an ordinary mental hospital they are often expelled because no-one can help them and because they do so much harm upsetting the other patients. In consequence, they are the group about whose ordinary natural history we are still most ignorant. We do not know the way psychopathy develops over the years, let alone its causes or its proper treatment.
The definition of a psychopath is not easy. Indeed, when we start to describe 526 a psychopath the layman is apt to say, "But that is me that is exactly like I am myself." The fact is that we all have in our own personalities a tincture of psychopathy. Psychopathy appears to be no more or less than the bad features of normal personality written in capital letters and deprived of the compensating good features. Moreover, in childhood and in growing up these bad features are more marked at times, but we grow out of them. Normal people, assuming they are not psychopathic, grow out of these bad features or have them driven out of them at school. For some reason at present unknown, the psychopath does not grow out of them or, having done so, relapses. A simple example is fighting: it is perfectly normal among little boys, but some boys fail to grow out of fighting. It turns later on into bullying, then into aggressive behaviour and finally into criminal assault. Now fighting is very much rarer among little girls— so indeed is bullying and criminal assault.
Another example is lying. Lying is perfectly normal in all young children. Every child tells lies at times, but most of us learn that lying is wrong—or at least that it does not pay. However, there is a small group of people who never learn these lessons and who remain persistent liars. In men these people become psychopathic confidence tricksters: the woman psychopathic liar is mainly concerned with the exploitation of emotions of others and less with direct material benefit. She is much more frequently seen in the mental hospital than in prison. In the most extreme form this condition is known as pseudologia fantastica. It is a condition in which she invents elaborate stories, very often sexual stories, about assaults which have been committed on her, and occasionally she appears in court or causes some other unfortunate person to appear in court. These people are very attractive to novelists. The classic picture is Madame Bovary. Indeed the French refer to the condition as "Bovarism". These women cause just as much misery as the male lying psychopath, but they do not end up in prison. If one is interested in the novelists' picture of the psychopath in the male, the classic one is Stavrogin, the hero of Dostoievsky's The Possessed. He is an unfeeling psychopath who produces the most appalling disasters and himself ends in tragedy. 527 The final example which I take of characteristics which are normal in young children, but which we normally grow out of, but which persist in the psychopath, is laziness. Perhaps the hardest lesson we have to learn is to work. The psychopath refuses to learn this lesson and I think it is general experience that the highest common factor of psychopathy inside or outside prison is laziness. The thief, the prostitute, the trickster or the swindler are all out to get things without the bother of working for them—and what is more, they do not see why they should. If one examines such people one often finds that this laziness has a physical basis as well. They are weak creatures, and it may be that the whole condition has, in fact, a biochemical basis. Your Lordships may say that I have been describing merely bad people—and that, indeed, is what I have been doing. That is what psychopaths are. They are, however, persistently bad people who lack the capacity to learn from experience or from any kind of teaching device which society is normally able to devise.
I believe that the first and greatest problem which we face in research in this field is to obtain a proper natural history of psychopathy. We need to know the full life stories of these people. We know that some factors appear to be important. A home in which there is continuous emotional strain and disharmony is probably worse than one in which there is a straight break and a home in which there is erratic training and discipline is probably worse than one in which there is continuous over-indulgence or stern discipline. But we also know that there are many thousands of young people who grow up into decent folk in spite of these things. We know that breeding is very important indeed in the production of psychopathy and severe criminality. In the case of identical twins, if one twin is a criminal in 70 per cent. of cases the other will also be a criminal. They are, of course, in the same environment. In the case of non-identical twins —also in the same environment—if one is criminal only 30 per cent. of the twins will be criminal. That is the measure of the importance of what the child starts with in the shape of innate endowment.
A start has been made in this difficult problem of studying the natural history 528 of the psychopath. Gibbons, Pond and Stafford-Clark have followed up 72 severely psychopathic criminals and 59 control prisoners for a period of eight years. As expected, the psychopaths had a significantly higher rate of reconviction than the controls, but a surprising feature was that no less than 24 per cent. of the psychopaths had only one or no reconvictions. Those who were not reconvicted were mainly inadequate psychopaths. The aggressive psychopaths almost always offended again, but aggressive psychopaths were far more often convicted of acquisitive than of aggressive crimes. It looks from this as though there are two types of criminal psychopath—the leaders and the led. The led appear to be cured by imprisonment the leaders not. This is borne out by epidemiological studies. The police are very familiar with the fact that certain places are crime spots, as it were. A colleague of mine, Mr. Sidney Chave, has made a detailed study of the way in which crime has developed in an entirely new community. All the houses are exactly the same, and there is no selection of population. Yet, out of the hundreds of streets in this town, it was found that 70 per cent. of all crimes were committed by people living in half a dozen streets. What happened was that there was one particular offender then a little group appeared and spread round him, exactly like the spread of an epidemic of measles. It appears that one bad character leads other weak characters into crime. If only first convicted cases could have been, as it were, isolated, the others might well not have gone wrong.
The other great problem about which a great deal has been said during this debate is the question of the effectiveness of the methods of treatment, and here I want to say something to which I do not think attention has been drawn—that is, the remarkable figures in paragraph 48 of the White Paper which quote from the Annual Report of the Prison Commissioners for 1947. They show that 80 per cent. of men and 89 per cent. of women who were discharged from our prisons in 1953-54 had not returned or come under sentence at the end of 1957 that is, after three years period of exposure to risk. Taking this recovery rate, if one imagined a prison as a hospital for prisoners, this rate of 85 per cent. would be staggering. 529 If we take the results of ordinary hospital care in unselected admissions, they are nothing like so good as this. It is, of course, possible that many people are being sent to prison who ought not to be sent to prison, but I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Birkett, was more correct when he said that probably this is a rare occurrence.
However, as I say, I think that this is a remarkable therapeutic achievement by the prisons. Perhaps I should not say this. because clearly I have a bias in this matter but from what I have seen, and from what my noble friend Lord Pakenham has said of the staff of the Prison Service, I think this does deserve to be said. I think that their achievement, and that of Her Majesty's Prison Commissioners, as a therapeutic agent, though not as a preventive agent, is very remarkable indeed, in spite of the most difficult conditions and the most difficult buildings.
My Lords, I feel sure that my noble friend is aware also of the very high figures of sucess for those who are not sent to prison.
§ LORD TAYLOR
Yes, certainly but at least we may assume that those who go to prison are perhaps the more severe cases, rather than those not so sentenced, unless the whole sentencing machinery is completely at fault.
Again, in the White Paper it is shown that there is a hard core of persistent recidivists, the leaders of crime who are the aggressive psychopaths—the "toughest nuts" to crack. In 1948 I had the privilege of visiting the Danish prison for criminal psychopaths at Hevstedvester at which Dr. Sturup, a great criminal psychiatrist, is getting some remarkable results. This is a very nice prison indeed physically. It is a beautiful place, but in one respect it is perhaps the toughest prison in the world, since the prisoners are all there for good, unless and until they prove themselves, by persistent good behaviour, fit to return to society. In other words, they have a permanent indeterminate sentence, for these gross criminal psychopaths are the most difficult and, if one may use the word, the wickedest part of the prison population of Denmark. The picture there is sometimes confused, because they collect in this prison, besides the general run of criminal psychopaths, a proportion of sexual offenders who, under Danish law, 530 are liable to be castrated. I asked Dr. Sturup to separate off the figures for sexual offenders from the general figures. When this is done, it is found that the recovery rate apparently as a result of this severe indeterminate sentence is some 50 per cent.
I think it should be said also that the decision about release is not made by the prison authorities, but by a judge who receives the evidence from the prison authorities. I think that that is very important. I feel that it is a responsibility which should not be placed on the prison authorities. I would have reminded the noble and learned Lord. Lord Denning, had he been here, that we already detain under an indeterminate sentence a group of offenders—that is, the criminal lunatics, so-called. They may be detained for life. They may be released at any time, on the advice which the superintendent of Broadmoor or Rampton gives to the Home Secretary. I may say that I do not particularly like an indeterminate sentence. I quote it here as the only known method by which criminal psychopaths can be given the incentive to work towards their own cure. It appears to work in Denmark: more than that, one would not say.
It is proposed to build in this country a psychiatric prison at Grendon Underwood, in Buckinghamshire. If that hospital is used to take neurotics and psychotics who happen to have committed crimes, it will do no more than can be done in any other mental hospital in the country. If, in fact, it is to be run as a research and treatment centre for criminal psychopaths, then it will be the most important step forward in penal work in this country, I believe. for a century.
Finally, one word about the research programme outlined at the end of the White Paper. During the war I had to look after and build up for the Government a social research unit with a budget of £100,000 a year. That unit still exists as part of the machinery of Government under the name of the Social Survey, and the present budget is, I think, about £70,000 a year. There were no inhibitions about spending that money, and social research is expensive. I think this is the sort of budget which is absolutely essential for doing this kind of research work quickly.
531 My noble friend Lord Pakenham said that this work would be undertaken very slowly, too slowly perhaps to give practical results for quick decisions. He is quite right, unless large teams of workers are concentrated on these elaborate statistical projects. We had to have a team of thirty to forty people to analyse the figures, with counting and tabulating machines, on the Social Survey. I do not know how much is spent on the Home Office Research Unit, but I do know that if I were faced with seventeen major research projects, one of which is divided into nine parts, making twenty-five research projects in all, I could not tackle it on under £100,000 a year and get quick results. That is the order of size of budget, and in relation to the importance of the project it is good value that such a unit gives to the Government.
We were able to justify the Social Survey because it saved the Government money. It also enabled planning to take place in any Department of Government where a social survey could give the answer in advance of planning. This is precisely the type of work that the Research Unit of the Home Office should undertake, and I am sure is undertaking but to get the full benefit of social research money must be spent. I think that in relation to the total cost of the Prison Service, these expenditures are very small. I hope that the Government will spend really generously. I heartily support everything in the White Paper and what my noble friend Lord Pakenham has said to-day.
§ 10.20 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, at this late hour it is not my intention to delay your Lordships for more than a few moments, but speaking as one of the younger Members of your Lordships' House for one, shall remember this debate for many years to come because of the many speeches we have heard coming from wide practical experience. If I single out one for personal praise, it is the speech by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of St. Albans, whose remarks on juvenile delinquency were so sound. It is about juvenile crime that I intend to speak, but first I should like to say that the maximum, "The British police are wonderful ", is as true now as it has ever been. The Police Ser- 532 vice is greatly under strength, but the work the police carry out, not only in the prevention of crime but in the many administrative duties they perform, such as often comforting the bereaved, and in many other ways, is done in the best traditions. I thing it is fitting that this message should go out from your Lordships' House.
The causes of juvenile crime can, I think, be narrowed down to three things: boredom, lack of parental discipline and lack of parental love. It is most important that the relationship between juveniles and the police should he cordial. The young person should be taught, and it should be impressed on him or her time and time again that the policeman and the policewoman are his or her friends. In a great many places, and particularly in Liverpool, the police do valuable work in boys' clubs by talking to the boys and demonstrating various arts to them.
I should like to say a word or two about the county which I know well—namely, Hertfordshire. Listening to a large part of this debate is the Chief Constable of Hertfordshire, with whom I have had a long talk. It is disturbing to read that in Hertfordshire in 1949 the number of indictable offences was 3,753, whereas in 1958 it was 7,516 and crime in that year rose by 21 per cent. Yet in the New Town of Stevenage, near where I lived for several years, only four cases of drunkenness were brought before the courts last year. Bearing in mind the large population of Stevenage now, that is a remarkable achievement.
I had a talk the other Saturday with the chairman of the Stevenage bench, and he told me an interesting story of a lad who came up to him in the High Street, Stevenage, and said: "I want to shake you by the hand, sir." The chairman looked a little startled and said: "I do not know you, but it is very kind of you." The lad then gave the chairman his name and said: "I want to thank you, sir. You sent me down for three months to a detention centre and it has done me more good than anything else. I have now got a good job I am going straight, and I intend to keep going straight." The detention centres do a wonderful job. A few weeks ago I saw a programme on television (possibly some of your Lordships saw it, too) about the work of the detention centre and the way these young people are kept occupied the whole time, 533 with no let-up. They live in spartan comfort they are adequately fed, but they are made to keep at it and there is no question of enforced idleness.
There is one point I should like to mention about the detection particularly of juvenile crime—and possibly the noble Lord who is to wind up this debate may have a few words to say on it—and that is in regard to the use of police dogs. Here again, in Liverpool and in Glasgow this practice has been carried on with considerable success, and gangs of Teddy-boys have been greatly minimised. I served in a unit in the Army which had police dogs their training is far from easy, but the work they do, with their handlers, is most effective, because where a hooligan might mock a policeman, he will think twice about mocking a large police dog. I believe that in the detection and prevention of crime wider use could be made of police dogs.
The cautioning of children by the police is an admirable thing, and often a good stout talk by the local police superintendent will do far more good than dragging the child before a juvenile court. Here again, publicity in revealing the names of juvenile delinquents who are constantly appearing before a court, or who are convicted of a serious offence, can go a long way towards making them reappear.
The Church has done most valuable work in keeping young people out of trouble. In the recent debate on the Youth Services I said a few words about our local church at Ashtead, where I live, and I make no apology for raising the matter again. The young people flock to the church and to the activities run in connection with it, such as dances, socials and outings, with the result that juvenile crime in the area is very small indeed. Finally I feel that we can pay tribute to the work that National Service has done particularly for the Teddy-boy type of person. Not all Teddy-boys are bad. When they get in a gang they are, but on their own, although they may be dressed in what some people regard as a particularly revolting type of clothing, in active service many of them have served their country well. Whatever defects there may be in National Service, it has, I am sure, saved many a lad from prison, or worse.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, when I saw much earlier today that I was number 19 on the batting list, I realised that it was an unenviable position. Now, seven and a half hours later, I regard it as 'an impossible one not because of what some noble Lords have called "the lateness of the hour"—it ill befalls me, who has not yet said a word, to apologise for the time—but because of the extraordinarily high level of the debate. I doubt whether the quality and experience of the speakers could be paralleled anywhere. No fewer than four former Home Secretaries, either as speakers or as auditors, have taken part two right reverend Prelates two noble and learned Judges a number of sociologists: noble Lords who have spent almost a lifetime in research into crime, and even one noble penologist by marriage. who proved himself to be an experienced and learned psychiatrist in crime in his own right.
I myself have only one claim to speak on this subject, and that is that I am keenly interested in it. But I feel as if my remarks would be those of almost the only layman who has taken part. the only non-member of the "Criminal Club." I hope your Lordships will not regard it as presumption, therefore, if I make one or two comments ion other speeches to which we have listened, because I find myself in the position of winding up for this side of the House.
Several noble Lords, and in particular the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, reterred to the belief that the increase in crime is due in large measure to the decline in moral standards throughout the world. That may well be true, but I doubt whether our generation is in a position to judge on the basic morals and religious standards of the generation of today, any more than our parents were in a position to judge accurately on us. I do not believe that it is a question of decline 'of basic moral standards throughout the world, and I was singularly unimpressed by the one example given by the noble Viscount, Lord Temple-wood, that of events in Tibet as an example of the decline in moral standards. What is happening in Tibet has never struck me as an example of Chinese juvenile delinquency: it seemed to me something very much more important.
535 I think the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, was much more to the point when she laid such stress on the fact that far more than half the total number of offences recorded are motoring offences, which is one result of the higher standards of living, because more people are in possession of means of locomotion by the internal combustion engine. Therefore it is not that there are more irresponsible or criminally minded people, but that more people have in their hands something which can become a lethal weapon. The noble Baroness also said something which I thought was quite unanswerable, or at least unexceptionable that if the boys behaved like girls and the men like women, there would be little need for police courts and prisons. The only difficulty is that she would not like it and neither should I. There would be no need for any world at all, and therefore that is scarcely a cure for the problems which confront us.
For the third time since I came to your Lordships' House I find myself impelled to speak in a debate on a Motion moved by my noble friend Lord Pakenham. Once again I find myself voicing warm approval of the sentiments he has expressed and the proposals he has put forward. It is therefore almost a relief to he able to disagree with one of his suggestions. My noble friend, in rightly stressing the vital importance of providing work for prisoners, urged the Government to set up an Advisory Council representing employers and trade unions. I hope they will do no such thing, because I cannot see it serving any useful purpose, and in my view it would be a waste of time.
To some extent the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Kilmuir, supported my noble friend when he drew attention to the fact that in some areas committees have been set up with employers and trade unionists. I feel, from at least twenty years' experience in trying to persuade employers and trade unions to provide work for prisoners, that it is doomed to failure, because the Government have been consulting the employers and trade unions at top level for the last fifteen months, and they have got precisely nowhere because, almost by definition, both bodies find it impossible at ground level to justify to their members competition from prison labour. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor 536 mentioned the decline in agricultural employment outside prisons. That is for the very reasons I have given. I am glad to see that the Government are taking concrete steps. Fortunately, compared with the national economy the problem is a very small one and in my view can be solved simply, but only if it is taken out of the field of normal competition. My noble friend has indicated that I hope in a few weeks' time to discuss this matter in detail if I am fortunate enough to bring to debate the Motion which stands in my name, so I will not pursue it further today.
Much as I concede what has been said about the factors responsible for the increase in crime by young persons, I wish to support my noble friend in what he has said about the major reasons, or what I regard as the major reason, for the high incidence of crime in Britain today: that is, the gross overcrowding in most prisons and the consequent impossibility of any real attempt at rehabilitation. I was very glad to hear the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, say that the Government do not for one moment agree that the increase in crime is due to emphasis on rehabilitation. But, warmly as we all welcome the proposals in Command Paper 645, I feel (and I do not think that this has been stressed at all in the debate) that before we commit ourselves to the building of more security prisons—I stress the word "security" prisons—we should first consider whether enough is being done to keep people out of prison, and, secondly, once they are inside, whether the treatment is designed to ensure that they do not go back.
My noble friend Lord Taylor mentioned mental hospitals. For some years, as chairman of the mental health committee of a Regional Board, I was responsible for some 17,000 mental and mentally-deficient patients in about 100 hospitals. All the hospitals were grossly overcrowded in the best the conditions were sub-standard in the worst they were deplorable. I found that some 25 per cent. of the elderly patients should never have been sent there in the first place. We bought some country houses and converted them, and provided 500 beds and filled them by de-certifying 500 mental hospital patients whose only disability was age. Mention was made of the fact that more elderly women than men were in mental hospitals. One reason is because there are more helpless old women whose only crime is being old 537 and who should not have been in the hospitals.
In my view, the position is exactly the same in Her Majesty's prisons: wrong classification of inmates, resulting in wrong treatment, overcrowding and, of course, unsuitable buildings. This results not merely in waste of public money but in meagre results in the rehabilitation of offenders. If by more prisons we mean more of what someone called "crenellated Bastilles", with jangling keys and iron bars and rows of cage-like cells, or even something of the same principle or character, then I say that we want not more but fewer prisons. In their place we want houses of treatment, suited to the offence and the offender, where the programme is always diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. There is no reason why existing buildings should not be acquired much more cheaply for certain types of prison. If we were threatened with a 20th century plague we should not put people in a pest-house. Why should we continue to put people who should not be there in the modern pest-houses, the conventional prisons?
At the same time we should inquire whether our Judges and magistrates are making full use of the laws which have been designed to avoid the necessity of sending certain offenders to prison. In that connection, I was most interested in what the noble and learned Lord. Lord Birkett, said, and I was very pleased indeed that he jettisoned his carefully prepared speech, because I think that nothing could possibly have been better than the half-hour that we had "off the cuff" from his wonderfully stocked mind of forty years' experience. He indicated what was generally the judicial attitude not so long ago to penal reform.
I am wondering, from what I know of the subject myself, why it is that certain offenders are still sent to prison when laws have been provided that that should not be. For example, how is the Act working which gives powers to attach the payment of court orders to wages and salaries, instead of sending defaulters to prison? Use of that Act should relieve our prisons of hundreds of guests annually, and also compel these undesirable people to meet their financial obligations to society. Then there is the First Offenders Act, of which I had the honour 538 to move the Third Reading in another place. We had high hopes of this Act, but I have had cases come to my notice recently which have left me in doubt.
Only last week a young Post Office clerk suddenly yielded to temptation and extracted £100 from his takings. He took the money home his wife was horrified and shocked, and persuaded him to take it back. This he did the next morning. The theft and the replacement were, of course, discovered the man was, quite properly, charged and convicted and on March 2 he was sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment. It was quite an ordinary, pathetic, sordid little story, except for the fact that for eight years this young couple had been saving up to emigrate to Australia. At long last their turn had come. They were due to sail on March 17. They had sold their home, and they were all ready to leave. Now they have lost their chance and, unless I can get them another, they may have lost it altogether. It is easy to say that he brought it all on himself. Of course he did. But the consequences are far greater than the six weeks imprisonment, the punishment for his crime for which full restitution was made even before he was charged. All those facts were known to the magistrate when he passed sentence. Surely that is the type of case for which the First Offenders Act was expressly designed. It is an essential part of our British system of government that the Judiciary should be kept completely separate from the Executive, but I respectfully ask the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor to do what he can to see that these Acts are brought fully to the notice of those who should administer them and that, so far as is possible, they are universally administered.
Another category that we should remove from our ordinary prisons are the various types of human derelicts who represent a sizeable proportion of the population of our prisons. On Monday, when I visited Pentonville, I found 1,203 prisoners crowded into accommodation which at the minimum of human decency is sufficient only for 900 men. There had been eleven new admissions on Saturday morning. All but one of them were serving from seven days to three months. Of what earthly use for such people is such a seven-days' sentence, as a deterrent, a punishment or for the purpose of reformation? In that prison hundreds are 539 living and sleeping three to a cell and accommodation, for recreation, work and training, is strained absolutely to the point of uselessness. It may well be because other facilities which should be there are not there, and that magistrates do not know what to do with these people, but I believe that decisions on those points are of far greater importance even than a programme for building four new security prisons.
Those 1,203 prisoners include every conceivable type of criminal, from reprieved murderers to habitual drunkards. All are held under maximum security conditions by only 90 overworked prison officers. We must ask ourselves: which of those 1,203 should not be there? Take the drunkards. They usually arrive in a deplorable condition. They are cleaned, and a week or two afterwards they go out of prison with a new rig-out and a little money. It is not long before they pawn their clothes and come back. And so the process goes on. There are many other types of nuisance offenders who are enemies not of society but of themselves. They clutter up the prisons and impede officers in the task of dealing with the rehabilitation of those who have committed serious crimes.
Then consider some of those men who, as habitual criminals, are sentenced from seven to ten years' preventive detention. I know men now serving such sentences whose last crime was stealing an article worth less than 20s. and whose whole criminal career has been a succession of such petty offences. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, speaking of other cases, said that a sentence must be one such as can be approved by the ordinary public. I say that sentences of from seven to ten years on these human derelicts who have never done more (even if they have done it often) than steal something worth £1 cannot be approved by public opinion.
§ LORD STONHAM
I say that to immure a man for one fifth of his adult life for such offences is worse than transportation. On a recent visit to Parkhurst, in the Isle of Wight, I found only 500 prisoners in residence, and an excellently appointed. 90-bed hospital, with three full-time doctors in attendance. When I commented on the size of the hospital— 540 90 beds in relation to 500 prisoners—and the fact that half the beds were devoted to mental cases, I was told that everyone who comes to Parkhurst is either physically or mentally sick. Then I was shown, with great pride, the crowning glory of the prison, the geriatric ward. The doctor actually said, "Come and see our geriatric ward." It was just an ordinary hospital ward, with the windows open and the sunshine streaming in, but there were no occupants. for the "old boys" were all out pottering about on their various occasions.
Why give such senile derelicts ten years in a maximum security prison where control is of such superlative character that no man has escaped from that prison in the last eight years? In that same prison one could talk to quiet, middle-aged prisoners, who may be in charge of libraries or mess halls. They speak yearningly of their impending return, a year or two hence, to their old homes but as they talk on one learns that they have not been home for twenty-five years. They have no kin, and they have been forgotten by any friends they ever had. Then one knows that they are dreaming of something which has never existed, and that they will soon be back again in prison because that is the only place in which they have known an orderly sheltered existence the only place where they are somebody, and where they have known something approaching happiness. But they should not be put there at our expense, in a place of clanging bars, snappy salutes and "Working party of five all correct, Sir!"
That is not the place for such people. When such men and other types I have mentioned are convicted they should be classified by doctors and probation officers, and if detention is considered necessary in the public interest it should be in a colony where they can be under ordinary discipline and (I think this is most important) where, so far as possible, they will be obliged to earn their keep. For this type of offender, and indeed, in my view, for any offender, the present system of preventive detention is hopelessly wrong, a gross waste of public money, and it helps strain the prison system to breaking point. By not giving prison sentences to many first offenders, by ending this madness of maximum security prisons for derelicts, geriatrics 541 and misfits, I believe that we could considerably reduce our prison population, probably by one-third or more, and this would provide room to breathe and enable us really to get down to the task of reforming those who comprise the hard criminal core.
I do not share the view that the reform of hardened criminals is a hopeless task. First, we can state the fact that over the age of forty-five there is, in any case, a sharp drop in reconvictions. Then there is the fact that more than 50 per cent. of habitual criminals who have been given their third stage under the Bristol system have not been reconvicted; and thirdly, there is my own experience. During the last three or four years I have been in touch with seven detainees while they were in prison, all serving a sentence from seven to ten years. Their ages varied from thirty-seven to fifty-five. They were all habitual criminals, all frustrated and bitter, and making the type of allegation against prison officers and against society Which men in such circumstances do make.
They were sufficiently troublesome to be kept on the "A" list, the escape list. They were a selection of real "bad hats". I never minced words with them in my visits to the prison; but once their confidence was restored, perhaps by the adjustment of a grievance when they were right, or an explanation when they were wrong, it proved possible to give them hope and a determination to make good when they were released. Not one of these men was given the third stage. They have all been out for more than a year. They are all working in steady jobs and I do not think they are going back. I have another crowd coming along. It is a small sample and proves nothing but that it can be done; and perhaps also that the worst have some honour and will keep their word to an individual who shows some faith in them.
Perhaps there could be, if preventive detention is to continue (and I hope it is not), a shortening of the period of first stage spent in local prisons, and then the stepping-up of training facilities in the second stage, and finally a great increase in facilities in the third stage. This one-third, instead of one-quarter, remission is tremendously prized by the men, and the real hope of it is sufficient in most cases to make a man do well in training and go straight afterwards. Indeed, the third 542 stage is an integral part of the preventive detention system, but in effect the men are not getting it: they are getting the ten years, but not the rehabilitation. I think, therefore, that they are not merely getting the worst of the bargain; they are not getting the bargain which Parliament intended they should have. At present so few men achieve the prize of the third stage that there is created a feeling of injustice and resentment which often has disastrous consequences.
Finally, my Lords, I should like to add to what my noble friend Lord Pakenham and others, particularly Lord Denning, said about the treatment of medium- and long-sentence prisoners on release. Aftercare is grossly inadequate, and will remain so despite the increases mentioned in the White Paper; so inadequate that it is, in fact, a miracle if these men go straight. After seven or eight years of regimented existence they go into a world which is strange. While in prison their homes may have broken up; their marriages may have broken up; and such friends as they still possess are people of doubtful character. It is imperative that they should be helped into a job and into suitable lodgings. Spiritually, they are like men immured in darkness who come out blinking in a strong light. They need positive help for the first few weeks; yet we treat them as if we wanted them to go back to prison.
All that happens when a man is released from prison is that he is given a new suit—which can be recognised a long way off—a ticket or railway warrant to his home, and 10s., sometimes 20s. I have had men released from Parkhurst at about eight o'clock in the morning, perhaps going to Manchester or the North of England, who have come to see me here and have arrived at about 4 o'clock. They come not to borrow anything but merely to renew verbally a pledge that they have given in writing; or perhaps to plead on behalf of somebody still left behind; or to make a complaint about conditions which no longer affect them but which they think should be put right. I have had the thought that that man is going to Manchester, that he has got what is left of 10s. in his pocket, and that he will get there at about ten or eleven o'clock at night with enough for a sandwich and perhaps a night's "doss". What is he going to do? If he needs more, he can, of course, apply for 543 National Assistance. I accept fully what the noble and learned Viscount said about that, but it is the case that these men do not get that information. In many cases these arrangements are not made for them to go to lodgings, and the accommodation is not ready. That is something that must he remedied.
Then there is the question of jobs to go to. One can see the wonderful work that is being done in these prisons, with men being trained to "City and Guilds" standards. When I was at Parkhurst I asked the instructors there: "Do you know any of your men who go to jobs for which they are trained? ", and not one of them could tell me of a single case. This is not the fault of the aftercare officers: they do their utmost in a devoted way on pitiful means. There is a visit by a Ministry of Labour officer a month before a man is released, but the men are not persuaded or pressed to go into the jobs for which they have been trained. Jobs should be found for them. If you go into Pentonville Prison they will tell you that if a "regular" who has been released is not in work within two weeks he starts looking for ways to go back to prison. He gives up. He does not apply at the nearest police station saying, "Please take me back"—he goes and does a job. That is why nine out of ten indictable crimes are larceny or housebreaking, and why those offences show the largest increase in indictable crimes—because the men are not getting a proper chance.
I say, my Lords, that this 10s. dole is a crime against the men and against society. All the protestations and White Papers are useless unless we do something about money and jobs to get these people over the first few weeks. I am certain that if we classify offenders in the ways I have suggested if we then train them according to their abilities and if, on release, we see that they go to the jobs for which they have been trained, our prison population will shrink to a size well within the capacity of the present Prison Service. What is vastly more important, we shall, whilst keeping the grey ones out of the pest house, give even the black sheep a chance to build their lives anew, and we shall be taking the most effective possible action to reduce crime in Britain.
§ 10.58 p.m.
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, there now comes a moment, rather late in the night, when, for my part, I am extremely proud to be winding up for the Government this extremely valuable debate which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has initiated. I feel that the noble Lord will understand me when I say that I am perhaps not quite so happy to do it in view of the many diverse, profound, and respected experts who have taken part in the debate prior to myself.
As to my first task, your Lordships may remember that the duty was laid upon me to refer in some detail to the question of juvenile delinquency and I would, even at this time, ask a little indulgence while I examine the extent of the problem, and while I refer, as I must, to a certain number of the statistics. Those for 1957 show a continuance of the upward trend, which began in 1955, in the number of persons under 21 convicted or found guilty of offences. The rise was in both indictable and non-indictable offences, among both sexes, and in almost every annual age group under 21.
In the age group 17 to 21 the number of offenders has increased, although the population in that age group is slightly less than it was in 1938. In that year, the number of persons of this group convicted per 100,000 was 767. By 1957, it was 1,555, an increase of more than 100 per cent.
The generation which was born in the years 1935–36 to 1941–42, and was aged between 17 and 21 in 1957, has shown throughout its career a higher degree of delinquency than its predecessors but, in addition to this, it has produced in its late adolescence an amount of delinquency even higher than its earlier record had led us to expect. A generation normally produces its peak of delinquency at the age of 14, and the fact that this generation has produced a further peak at 17 is a new factor, the significance of which I do not think has yet properly appeared. I do not know whether it is peculiar to this generation or whether it will be reproduced in future generations whose record, to which I shall shortly come, has so far been considerably better.
So far as juveniles are concerned, the increase in the amount of delinquency in 545 the years I have mentioned is partly due to the higher birth rate in the years from 1942 onwards. Even when allowance is made for the population bulge, however, there is still a marked increase in the number of children found guilty of some offences. Out of every 100,000 of the ages 14 to 17 in 1938, 1,131 were found guilty in that year. The corresponding figure for 1957 is 2,058, an increase of 85 per cent. With younger children there has been a similar rise, though not so steep. Out of every 100,000 between the ages of 8 to 14, 798 were found guilty in 1938 and 1,091 in 1957, an increase of 36 per cent.
I said that the upward trend began in 1955. The wave of juvenile delinquency, as most of your Lordships probably know, has fluctuated since the war at fairly regular intervals, rising to its highest peak in 1957, with lower peaks in 1944 and 1948, and particularly low troughs in 1954 and 1955. In general, things were really no worse and no better in 1957 than they were in 1951, though in one respect—that is, in the number of boys between 14 and 17 who were found guilty of indictable offences—1957 was the worst year since the war. No one can offer any good explanation of this ebb and flow, but we have to recognise that it exists, that the situation has been almost as bad before and that the tide may easily turn once more. There is no sign that it has turned yet, or that it soon will. The only comfort I can find is taken from the fact that children under the age of 14 have a better record at present than their predecessors, who are the ones who now cause us so much anxiety as young adults.
So far I have dealt in statistics, and I think that we have had a fair number of statistics today. I personally always think statistics are like artificial fertilisers: you cannot get your best results without them, but it is a mistake to think that they grow the crop for you. Consequently, there is a general point that I should like to make about what I have just been saying that is, that we should be careful about accepting statistics entirely at their face value as the true measure of delinquency, particularly when comparing prewar and post-war figures.
If I may take an example, in 1938 only half as many boys under 14 were found guilty of indictable offences as in 1951. I do not doubt that in 1951 that age group did commit more offences, but I 546 do not think one can correspondingly draw the conclusion that boys in that age group were twice as wicked in that year or committed twice as many indictable offences as their predecessors before the war. The statistics reflect changes in custom for which we cannot allow offences by children are, I feel sure, more readily reported to the police than they used to be, and I think it may well be, too, that the police are more ready than they previously were to bring the offenders before the juvenile court. And there are other somewhat imponderable factors which must have affected the figures but for which we cannot really allow. I think we are entitled to conclude that things are not quite so bad as they would appear to be from a simple reading of the statistics. That, I think, is sufficient about the extent of that problem.
The Government have no wish to underestimate its seriousness, and I can tell your Lordships that we fully appreciate the concern that the public feel about it, as has been voiced by several noble Lords during the course of this debate. We are anxious to make any necessary improvements in our system to deal with juvenile offenders, and we are waiting with interest to see what conclusions are reached by the Departmental Committee which is sitting under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Ingleby. That Committee has a long and difficult task, and I understand that it may be several months before it is able to submit its report.
I would agree that it is for the Government to punish crime, but the Government have only a limited part to play in dealing with its cause. It is only now, I think, that we are beginning to realise just how limited a part this is. For example, as my noble friend Lord Temple-wood (unfortunately, he has ihad to leave, having recently had influenza) told us, most people used to think that factors such as poverty, bad housing, and inadequate educational and social services were the main underlying causes. They must be contributory factors, and I have no doubt that they have been of greater importance in some times and places than in others. But they cannot be the whole story, because juvenile delinquency, rather like other forms of delinquency, has increased at a time when material prosperity and social welfare have improved. That itself, as my noble friend 547 Lord Templewood and other noble Lords have indicated, may be significant. But I will return to that point in a few minutes.
More recently, we have assumed that war-time experience has played an important part, and there has been some support for this theory by the discovery that children who reached the age of 4 between 1939 and 1945 have been appreciably more prone to delinquency than might have been expected on statistical probabilities. But most of these children are now 17, and still the figures for juvenile delinquency in the younger age groups have continued to rise. It would certainly be reasonable to assume that the causes of juvenile crime are more deeply rooted than was perhaps once thought. I would think they are so deeply rooted as to be largely beyond the reach of Government action. That is why, as my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor told us, our right honourable friend the Home Secretary earlier this year asked for that conference of leading churchmen and others who were prominent in public life and the voluntary services to assemble to meet him and discuss the causes of crime. In other words, he is endeavouring to arrive at that working hypothesis which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, recommends as a point from which to start.
May I now say a word for a moment on the treatment of young offenders for which the proposals in the White Paper have. I think, found general acceptance? They are proposals designed to create a system of treatment for young offenders wholly separate from the prison system for adults, and one in which there will be the fullest possible scope for fuller and individual training, without any loss of the deterrent effect of the deprivation of liberty. The details of these proposals are still being considered by the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders, and the question of introducing legislation to put them into practice will be considered in the light of the Council's Report. I must again he honest, and say that putting them into practice will depend not only on the introduction of that legislation, but also on the provision of the necessary establishments, particularly the detention centres, and all this is hound to take some little time.
548 I will now turn for a moment or two away from the general problem of juvenile delinquency, because I want to say a little about offensive weapons, which was a matter interestingly brought up by the noble Lord, Lard Pakenham. It is sometimes suggested that a useful purpose would be served if the manufacture and sale of some articles used as weapons could be either prohibited or controlled in such a way as to keep them out of the hands of those who had no legitimate use for them. If an attempt is made to deal with a particular article or range of articles in this way, difficulties arise over definition, and perhaps even over the need to make provision for legitimate use. Even if these difficulties could be overcome, and supplies of a particular article could be cut off, there would remain always a thousand-and-one other things which could be used as weapons instead.
The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, diverted us highly by his exhibition of strange implements which he brought into the House. I am not sure whether I understood him aright, but I gathered that in fact they were obtained as a result of the campaign conducted by the daily newspaper of which he rightly approves, because anything which will stop horrible weapons coming into the hands of juveniles must be a good thing. I rather gathered that they came in as a result of that.
§ LORD CHESHAM
I do not know how the noble Lord stood on the question of Order when he produced those to the House, but it seemed to me that if he could "get away" with it, I could. It so happens that this morning I collected something that had already reached Scotland Yard and had been taken off a juvenile delinquent. With your Lordships' permission, I would show you this article which I have here—no doubt out of Order—and which I brought for your Lordships to see. It is a pity that there are not a few more of your Lordships to see it. I shall be pleased to demonstrate it outside the Chamber, at the termination of the debate. I did that because I think it is necessary to have a word on flick-knives, because they are regarded as being a particularly dangerous weapon. This one in my pocket has been 549 extremely crudely but effectively filed to increase the sharpness of the blade, as any noble Lord may afterwards see. It is thought that it can be easily defined as of no essential use and as particularly attractive to young persons.
Before I go on, a point of passing interest is that the flick-knife is thought to he a very new innovation. In point of fact, it is mentioned by Dickens, in Martin Chuzzlewit, who refers to an American swindler called Scadder as picking his teeth with a knife of this description. So there is very little new under the sun. There is a Bill, as your Lordships know, by a Private Member in another place, and it has received a Second Reading. It is designed to prohibit the manufacture and sale of flick-knives. I know that your Lordships will not expect me to say anything about the merits of the Bill itself, but I think it is fair for me to say that the contribution which legislation of this sort, in particular, could make to the reduction in crimes of violence would not be great because of the wide variety of weapons that can be used. As an example, in the Metropolitan Police District in 1958, out of 2,857 persons concerned in crimes of violence, or with being in possession of offensive weapons, only 65 of them had flick-knives.
Noble Lords have asked me various questions, and perhaps since we have been speaking of offensive weapons I had better answer first that of the noble Lord, Lord Winster, who asked me a specific question—I see he has not stayed to hear the answer—about sanitary arrangements, which he criticised bitterly. The Prison Commissioners have for the past two years been engaged on an extensive programme of modernisation which will, within the next few years, have provided prisons with a system of sanitation that the Prison Commissioners believe will have removed most or all of the present grounds of criticism.
Most of the remainder of the questions seem to have "Lord Stonham" written at the top, and I will take those next. I know that the noble Lord will not expect me to enter into a long discussion with him at this time of night on the subject of the preventive detention system which he spent a little time criticising, but I would briefly draw his attention 550 to paragraph 77 of the White Paper which, as he probably knows, promises a review of that system.
He sought to draw our sympathy over a case of a first offender. It does sometimes happen that first offenders who come before the higher courts are charged with offences of some seriousness. The example I had jotted down happens to be exactly the example that the noble Lord quoted—offences involving serious breaches of trust. There are probably times when the court feels that it has no alternative but to impose a sentence of imprisonment. I would completely agree with the noble Lord that it is necessary that courts should be in possession of as much information as is possible about first offenders. But I would say to him that I thought his defence of the case (if I may call it that) tended rather to try to exonerate this unfortunate man, when he had so much to lose, from not taking a little more care in the matter.
§ LORD STONHAM
Will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? I said—and if he will do me the honour to read what I said in Hansard he will be able to confirm it—that the man was quite rightly charged and convicted. I am fully aware that people like postmen and other civil servants who commit a breach of trust are normally, in cases like this, sentenced to six or twelve months' imprisonment. This man was given only six weeks' imprisonment. Obviously, the magistrate took that into consideration. In such circumstances the First Offenders Act lays on the magistrate the charge to see whether other means can be found.
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, I am sorry perhaps I took the noble Lord a little wrongly. I was left with the feeling that he was indicating that this man had had rather bad luck. Turning to the new prisons which the noble Lord mentioned, I would say that these will not be "crenellated Bastilles" they will be designed in a much more constructive way, to express and carry out—I always think that this sounds rather artistic—modern thought on penal treatment generally.
Now I must turn to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, who I am extremely glad to see is in his place. I regret to say that there is only one point on which I can agree with him in what 551 he said, and that is his opening remark, when he said that what he was going to say was not in the best of taste. I would go further. I consider that in his speech, whatever may have been his intention, he has managed to perpetrate a grave disservice to the police force. I hope that it will not go out from this House that we associate ourselves in any way with what he has said, because, as I say, whatever he was trying to do, he gave the impression that he was criticising and attacking police methods in this country, and he was doing so as a generalisation. It seemed to me that he was carrying out his attack and criticism largely by unsubstantiated allegation, casting considerable doubt on the integrity of the force as a whole.
§ LORD CHESHAM
No, I have not finished. I have some more to say. Perhaps the noble Lord would prefer me to do so. This allegation which, in my view, does a grave disservice to the police force is based apparently on nothing more than hearsay evidence that he has obtained from his friends. The noble Lord invited me to challenge him if I liked. Well, I do like. I simply do not think that any of your Lordships would wish it to go out from this House that allegations can be made against the police on any such flimsy evidence. I would say finally, in regard to the last case, about which he did give direct details in regard to one side, that if he thinks that there is a miscarriage of justice in some way, there are rules under which statements are obtained and it is his plain and positive duty to bring the case to the notice of the chief constable or of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, and not to produce it in your Lordships' House.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I must say I am somewhat at a loss to understand why my noble friend should take my remarks entirely out of context and give an entirely unbalanced version of the speech I made. Of one thing I am quite positive, and on this I am perfectly prepared to accept a challenge: that those who resent bad and corrupt policemen most fiercely are the great majority of the police force, who are absolutely honest and incorruptible. I 552 will make so bold as to say to my noble friend that that small and damaging minority of corrupt policemen will not he rooted out by any official determination to deny their existence.
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, I can quite easily accept what the noble Lord has now said, but if he reads his Hansard to-morrow, as no doubt he will, he will find that he has given the impression of building up a very strong case affecting the police generally as a whole. That is how it struck me, and apparently it struck other noble Lords in the same way. We will say no more about it at the moment, but if my words seem to the noble Lord somewhat strong I use them only because, as I understood what he said, I consider they are justified.
There remains one highly important area of ground which many noble Lords have trodden to-day, some lightly, some more boldly, and perhaps my noble friend Lord Templewood boldest of all. I mean by this the concept of crime and its relationship to sin. I want to tread this ground a little, even if my steps may be slightly blundering ones. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, finished his speech with a quotation from the XVth Chapter of St. Luke in what I thought was well judged support of his plea for the treatment of prisoners. I have been more pleased to hear as much, or in fact a good deal more, and not least from the right reverend Prelates who have now returned to their sees, which might be based upon the XXth Chapter of Exodus. For those of your Lordships who have temporarily forgotten it, I may say that the first seventeen verses contain the Ten Commandments.
I have referred to the age group from 17 to 21 as showing the largest increase in criminal tendencies, and I think we should consider what has happened in the years since 1938, the years in which they grew up and were educated in the broadest sense. In doing so we must remember that these considerations are not applicable to them alone but will certainly colour the criminal tendencies of people of any age. It does not need me to remind your Lordships of the slackening of moral values that takes place in war time. As we all know, it is inevitable, through the cheapening of human life, the destruction of property, and the lowering of moral values through 553 desperation and frustration and the general feeling of there being no foreseeable future.
At the end of six years of war such activities generally known as "scrounging" or "winning" things became suddenly respectable. After the war there was inevitably a period of intense materialism—a period of personal struggle for people in which the only thing that really mattered was to rebuild their personal material position in life. During that period, as indeed during the war period, people got very used to being provided for in various ways. The noble Viscount., Lord Templewood, suggested that one factor contributing to the increase in crime among children and young people had been the growth of the Welfare State. So far as I can recall, he implied that we might have gone too far in taking over from parents the responsibility that they should bear for the welfare of their children.
The Government would certainly agree with the noble Viscount that there is a real danger in this. There always have been parents who were selfish and neglectful, but in recent years there seems to have been a tendency for some parents to feel that bringing up children is more an expert's job than it used to be and that the social services exist to provide experts who can do the job rather better than the parents themselves. This is, I certainly hope, no more than a tendency. Most parents realise that no social service can provide any substitute for their own love and care. But the point is that we must be on our guard to ensure that the social services are designed and administered in such a way as to give the least possible excuse for parents to shirk their own proper responsibilities for bringing up their own children.
There arose too, it seemed to me, in those post-war years, a new concept of man-to-man relationships, an emergent, if not very well-considered, equality, if you like to call it that and in many ways it took the form of rejection of the disciplines of life and of proper consideration to other people, which, when it is taken to an extreme, leads to a phenomenon that many of us have noticed, and that is an apparent lack of sympathy with any who might be victims of crimes, particularly crimes of violence. At that lime respect for others, either 554 for their person or for their rights, was neither sought nor taught and the tendency to rejection of social obligations and discipline extended not only to fellow citizens but to authority generally, except of course, as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, said, when people wanted to use it for some purpose.
I have said that, my Lords, because I believe it to be an important part of the causes of crime but, like anyone else, I am really more interested in the cure. I only stated those facts because I wanted to emphasise the action which I think is necessary for us all to take in the long run. To-day it is a popular conception, or perhaps I should call it a misconception, that the Government of the day are responsible for everything. One has, in fact, only to look at the subjects which are sometimes put down for Motions and for Questions in your Lordships' House and in another place to see that. We have heard to-day that various noble Lords and Ladies think that more could and should be done by the Government. We have also heard what the Government propose to do and of their awareness of the necessity not to do too little or too late.
The Government cannot do this thing alone. It will require a gigantic operation of the State in the form of the Government—and by Government I mean both central and local government by the Churches by the voluntary societies and last, but certainly not least, by an increase—or perhaps the word I should use is uplift—in the moral responsibility of the people as individuals that is, the true realisation and linking of crime in its proper relationship to sin. Only then, my Lords, can crime be reduced and diminished and only then can our present deep anxieties be put at rest.
§ 11.34 p.m.
My Lords, I know that I shall be speaking for all who are here and all who read his speech when I congratulate the noble Lord on his admirable reply in these difficult circumstances and at what is certainly a genuinely late hour and he also, if I may say so, apart from bringing the debate to a conclusion, displayed a delightful vein of honour which I hope he will never be slow to exploit in this House. It will always be very acceptable.
I rise simply in order to thank all those who have taken part in this debate. I 555 suppose I had better confine myself to those who are here, and I feel inclined to congratulate those who have not taken part even more than those who have, because to sit here for nine hours without speaking seems to me an almost greater purgatory than to sit here for nine hours with a speech thrown in. I can only say, although I will not promise, that I hope to do the same for other noble Lords on other occasions by keeping silent myself—though perhaps that is too much to expect.
I should like to thank the noble Lord. Lord Stonham, for winding up so admirably from our side. When I heard him speak, some words came to me from a book written by a prisoner who had had a very long sentence passed upon him—"life plus 99 years," as they call it in America—but who had received a great deal of help. He asked himself somewhere in that book: "What claim have I on all these people who are trying to help me?" He answered the question himself, saying, "Only the greatness of my need". However, that is apparently enough for all champions, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, showed himself a real champion of the prisoner and so did many other noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, about the Advisory Committee, but perhaps that is something which we can hammer out between ourselves in private.
Then I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. While he was speaking I could not help but think of all those distinguished men in the picture of the House of Lords in 1893. Your Lordships will be aware of that picture, where the House is throwing out the second Home Rule Bill by 419 votes to 21, I think. I could not help wondering what those distinguished men would have thought of a discussion taking place in your Lordships' House between a female sociologist of great distinction and a professional psychiatrist who is domiciled in prison. I think it would have made them sit up even more than the second Home Rule Bill of 1893. However, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, who made a most interesting speech, as did many other noble Lords. I should also like to say "Thank you" to the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, for a most interesting address, as I failed to 556 do after he had made another most interesting speech when we were discussing youth not so long ago.
I find myself a little embarrassed in dealing adequately with the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald. It may well be that when we read that speech we shall all feel, including the noble Lord himself, that it is one of those things which ought to have been done differently. However, I am the last to condemn the noble Lord nor have I any right to do so. I recall that the noble Lord told me that he was going to speak about certain aspects of police methods that worried him, and I said: "Why not? Go ahead". So if any castigation is to be meted out, then, if I may put it crudely, he and I must bend over together. However, I think that on reflection the noble Lord will consider that it was one of those things which perhaps ought to have been done differently—but, then, of what speech is that not true? It is certainly true of any speech that I have ever made.
I cannot mention all the speakers, of course, but I should like to say how typically unselfish it was of the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, to take part in this debate and to speak on his Motion when suffering from the effects of influenza. I think the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, should also be thanked, because I know he is still a sick man. The debate was strengthened very much on this occasion by the presence of the Bishops and by what I think has been a novelty—the very weighty contribution of the two Judges. Lord Denning spoke brilliantly, as always, and Lord Birkett made a tremendous impression, as all of us who listened to him are aware. He has that unique power of addressing any gathering in a charming and apparently light-handed way, and yet going, one feels, right to the heart of the matter.
I also feel that my noble friend Lord Nathan set a record which it is going to be very difficult to beat in this House, of offering £150,000 from the Front Bench. It is going certainly beyond the capacity of most of us on this side, and although I know noble Lords opposite are sometimes better breeched, it is perhaps going to extend them fully. We were told by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, in his very important speech, that the Government were doing better in research this year they were spending 557 five times as much as in last year. That would be five times £3,000, making £15,000. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, has offered ten times that figure almost "off the cuff" and we must congratulate him on a record that is likely to stand through all time.
The only other speakers to whom I think I should refer now are the Ministers. Certainly we must thank the Government collectively for providing us with such a strong team. I have already thanked the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, and I can assure the noble and learned Viscount and the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, that if I am ungenerous towards the Government I hope I shall not fail to recognise the very serious and thorough way in which they dealt with all the points raised today. I do not feel that in terms of debate, any of the difficult issues could have been better handled, and I thank them for the way they looked after us so nobly this afternoon.
It would be humbug to say that I am satisfied with the present situation. I repeat that I feel, as so many of us feel, that a great revolution in thought and action is necessary in regard to penal 558 reform, and still more perhaps in regard to after-care. But I can assure the noble and learned Viscount and the other Ministers who spoke that if the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor and the Home Secretary are initiating a great crusade to bring an altogether new atmosphere into dealing with prison reform—I do not speak for anyone but myself, but in so far as I do represent anybody I can assure them of this—both in virtue of the offices that they hold and of the great personal esteem felt towards them here and elsewhere, the response is not likely to fail. I hope that they will feel that that is a genuine tribute. I repeat my thanks to all noble Lords who have taken part in this memorable, as I think it will be, debate, and beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.