§ 2.45 p.m.
§ LORD GARDINER rose to call attention to the need for steps to be taken to reduce crime and for penal reform; and to move for Papers. The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I fear that some of your Lordships may think it rather an impertinence on my part to be moving a Motion when I have been a Member of your Lordships' House for only some six months. My excuse must be what I believe to be the importance of the subject. May I say at the outset that a committee of members of the Labour Party, of which I was a member and of which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, was chairman, has recently published a Report in this field, called Crime—A Challenge To Us All. This Report has not been accepted by the Labour Party, and its contents are not part of Labour Party policy. I thought that I should make that clear, and also the fact that this afternoon I am not speaking on behalf of that committee and everything I am saying is merely, in an old-fashioned way, my own views.
§ The first point I should desire to make is my justification for asking your Lordships to consider this problem for an afternoon—namely, what, in my submission, is the importance of the subject. I think that crime does much more harm to the community than most people realise. It may be that not many Members of your Lordships' House ordinarily come into close contact with crime—though, of course, if you have been beaten up, or have been deprived of your life savings, you take rather a different view. But the value of the property stolen in London in 1962 was £12½ million, of which only £2½ million worth was recovered; and, as your 248 Lordships know, crime has continued to increase ever since the war in a really rather startling proportion. Crimes like burglary and housebreaking have increased by over 250 per cent.; crimes against women by over 400 per cent.; and crimes of violence by over 500 per cent. And as your Lordships will know from a Report published this morning, this tendency, unhappily, is still continuing.
§ Moreover, these are only the crimes known to the police. The Director of the Institute of Criminology has recently hazarded the opinion (though I do not think he expressed it as more than a guess) that probably the crime known to the police represents only about 15 per cent. of the crime which exists—either because people are not found out at all, or, if they are, because the crimes are not reported to the police. I see that in one firm alone in one year there were 371 larcenies by members of the staff, none of which was reported to the police.
§ Of course, when we are thinking of criminals some of us have rather different images. There are places in which "knocking off" things from the railways or "knocking off" things from the docks are so common that if somebody is convicted and fined, when he goes into the pub in the evening nobody refuses to speak to him, because so many of them do it themselves and he has just been unlucky. In another class with which your Lordships are more familiar, anybody convicted of an offence of dishonesty would have to resign from his club; he would be thrown out of his profession, and few but his oldest friends would ask him out to dinner again.
§ The amount of burglary and house-breaking is not far different from the amount of dangerous driving, drunken driving, crossing traffic lights when they are red, and failing to stop after an accident. In the latter circle, if you injure somebody by drunken driving you do not have to resign from your club; you are not thrown out of your profession, and people do not stop asking you out to dinner. I suppose that, ordinarily, when we think of criminals we think of ordinary people like housebreakers; we do not think of respectable people like motorists. I do not know whether I am at all prejudiced on this—I have had an absolutely "bang-up" burglary; and 249 burglary and housebreaking are a very great nuisance. But I may be prejudiced, as a barrister, because we see so many men and women without an arm, or without a leg, or blind, or the paraplegic young man of 18 coming into court in a wheel chair which he is never to leave; and because we see so much of this we sometimes wonder whether, when one is considering the amount of human suffering caused by crime, the housebreaker is worse for the community than the motorist.
We have now a developing kind of crime which the leading article in The Times this morning referred to as
the increase of armed, mechanised, nationally planned robbery".
These crimes, as we all know, are smash-and-grab raids—and worse—which are highly organised, involving men who will stop at nothing. They are all the time increasing in number, and I venture to suggest that it may begin to look as if the forces of evil are some day going to get the better and be stronger than the forces of law and order. Therefore the first point I venture to make is that the amount of evil which crime does to a community tends to be underestimated, and that the present position, with these continually increasing recorded crimes, is one of gravity which well merits consideration in your Lordship's House.
§ The next question is: What ought we to do? And that is less easy to answer. I would suggest, in the first place, with all respect, of course, to those who hold different opinions, that I do not think that this is a field in which emotion or sentiment are sure foundations for action. Sometimes we may hear somebody speak almost as if he was thinking more of the criminal than of the victim; and at the other end of the range are the people who take intense personal satisfaction in thinking about other people being punished, particularly if they are being corporally punished. I would suggest that at neither end is emotion or sentiment of much assistance, and that we shall never cure the problem, so far as it can be cured, unless we deal with the matter by finding out the facts and then seeing what reasoned conclusion is to be drawn from the facts.
§ Here at once we are in difficulty, because we do not know what the facts are, largely because we have never troubled to find out. We do not know 250 what causes crime. Everybody has his own pet theory as to the cause: it is broken homes; or it is the Welfare State; or it is the affluent society; or it is the bomb; or it is the decline in religious belief; or it is the television; or it is the fact that we have gone "soft" with criminals and that everybody is let off nowadays. But nobody knows. There is some evidence, though not conclusive evidence, that a larger proportion of juvenile delinquents come from broken homes than the average. There is some evidence, both here and abroad, that the present troublesome lot are those who were aged five about the middle of the war.
§ The idea, which one finds constantly repeated in the Daily Express, that we have "gone soft", and that criminals and everybody else are getting let off has, of course, no foundation in fact at all. The judges, very naturally, in a period of increasing crime have been increasing sentences. In all the leading fields of crime, sentences have been increased. If one takes the three broad classes, burglary and housebreaking, sexual offences and crimes of violence, the fact is that sentences have increased most in the case of sexual offences and least in relation to crimes of violence. I am not sure why that should be. But the prisons are still bursting. There are still nearly 30,000 people in prison all of whom have got to come out; nearly 6,000 are sleeping three to a cell; and, broadly speaking, it is true to say that, wherever one finds three in a cell, one would have been there before the war, the second is there because of the increase in crime, and the third is there because of the increase in sentence. Therefore if we ask ourselves what causes crime I am afraid we must say that we do not know, because we have never troubled to find out though we all have our own pet theories. Still less do we know how to cure crime, or how to turn bad citizens into good. We rush from one end to another—probation officer, approved school, conditional discharges, corrective training, detention centres, preventive detention, attendance centres—without ever stopping to find out which of them in fact works best.
§ The last Home Secretary (who in my opinion was one of the finest Home Secretaries this country has ever had) was 251 the first to realise that, in any other field of human activities, if we do not know what the facts are we call in science to find out. Science might be defined as the art of ascertaining difficult questions of fact. If you give science enough time and enough money it seems to be able to find out anything. He realised that our first trouble in this field is that we just do not know, because crime in this country has always been dealt with on an amateur basis. So he got a little money to start the first research unit in the Home Office, and then he went outside and got other people to form our first Institute of Criminology. He then found what a good many of us have known for a good many years, that the criminal statistics kept by the Home Office are kept in such an amateur form as to be almost useless for research purposes; and a Committee has been set up to correct that.
§ What we really need, first and foremost, in this field is knowledge of the facts. There are a great many facts to be discovered. I am not suggesting it is an easy field, because the scientist likes a control group. I suppose that if you had three young men before you with the same history who had committed the same offence, and you said, "I think I will send one to prison, put another on probation, and send a third to Borstal because it will be interesting to see what the result is", the parents of the young man who is sent to prison might complain. I remember, although it is a long time ago, going to see Lindbergh land at Croydon Airport when he had flown the Atlantic. Lindbergh left his old home to the State of New Jersey, and whereas in New Jersey young men who had committed certain offences used to be sent to penitentiary, they are now divided into two equal halves. One half are sent to the penitentiary and the other half to Lindbergh's old home for a sort of course of moral regeneration; and in time one will know which works best in practice, for this is essentially a practical subject.
§ There is a prison for "old lags" in Pennsylvania, where it was observed that if they came back they usually did so within three months of leaving. They are now all divided into two groups on leaving. One group gets the same sort 252 of non-existent degree of after-care which we have here; and the others are treated rather as if they had won the pools and inspectors are attached to them to resettle them with their families and get them a job. In this way it will be seen whether that saves the inspectors' salaries or not: because sending people to prison is expensive. We want first to ascertain the facts, and, in view of the amount of ground to be covered, we need a second Institute of Criminology in London, with probably a third one in Scotland or in the North of England.
§ Of course, we cannot wait and do nothing until science has found out what the facts are. Therefore we are faced with a difficult problem in deciding what to do to reduce crime when, if we are honest, we must agree that we do not really know the facts. I suggest we can start with what is now an ascertained fact, although I suppose that, from about 1830 to 1930, it may be said to have been the principle point of controversy in the field of penal reform. This is the question whether—as, until recently, the Judges have always asserted, and as the Daily Express continues to assert—the chief deterrent to crime is severity of punishment, or, as all those who have studied the subject have always said, certainty of conviction. When we are talking about deterrence in relation to crime we are talking—are we not?—about Snooks, who was thinking of doing a housebreaking job and then, what with this and what with that, decided not to. And the question is, Why? The local recorder may have said, "There is too much housebreaking going on". He usually gives them two years, but he says that the next time he is going to give three years.
§ Of course, if a Judge expresses an opinion that the degree of violence in crimes of violence has gone up, there is no one in the country who is in a better position, and very few are in as good a position, to form an opinion of that kind, because the Judges go round the country hearing the evidence of all the crimes which are being committed. But for some reason which I have never understood, until about twenty years ago the Judges were always of the opinion—and some national newspapers still are—that the Judges were also experts in deterrents. I have said before that I have the highest regard for Her Majesty's 253 Judges, but I have never understood why this opinion should be held. The Judges, of course, never see Snooks; they never see the man who is deterred; and there is nothing in their court experience which enables them to know any better than anybody else what it is that deters people. Nor is there anything in their training which would help them, because they have only their Bar examinations, which still contain no paper on penology, criminology or even elementary psychology.
§ What everybody who has studied this subject says is that if you take the facts for any particular police district they all tell the same story. You can see here the five years when they had that "tough" Recorder who sent them all to prison, and here the five years when they had the sentimental chap who bound them all over. Surely, the advocates of punishment or of probation will be able to draw some conclusion from the figures. But in this field it is no good, in my submission, trying to fit the facts to some preconceived theory. We have, I think, to see what the facts are and what conclusion is to be drawn from them. Although one might think that such opposite forms of dealing with crime, following one another, would show some contrast, it is not possible to see any result following from either of those two courses.
§ However, the one simple fact which stands out a mile is; that if the conviction rate—that is to say, the proportion which the convictions bear to the crimes known to the police—goes up, crime goes down; if the conviction rate goes down, crime goes up. I do not know why that should be so very surprising. What it means, if it is right, is that what decides Snooks when he is hesitating and wobbling about doing a housebreaking job—this applies to most criminals, although there are exceptions, because of course every criminal is a unique human being (or, if I must, "an" unique human being, although I prefer "English as she is spoke" myself)—is that if he thinks he will do the housebreaking job and get away with it he does it; if he thinks that if he does the housebreaking job he will be caught and punished, he does not. While, of course, punishment has a deterrent effect, the question whether if he is caught and punished he is going to get two years or three years 254 is not really nearly as important as the conviction rate, because, by and large, if he thinks that if he does it he is going to be caught and punished, he does not do it anyway.
§ The real trouble since the war has been that, whereas before the war the conviction rate for indictable offences was always over 50 per cent., so that if a man committed a serious crime in England the probability was that he would be caught and punished, ever since the war it has fallen and fallen. In London at the present time the conviction rate for robberies is 23 per cent., so that if you do a robbery in London the chances are more than 3 to 1 that you will not be caught or punished at all; for housebreaking the rate is 15 per cent.; so it is about 6 to 1 that you will not be caught or punished; and if you like to steal something from a car the conviction rate is only 8½ per cent., so it is more than 10 to 1 that you will not be caught or punished. I do not suggest that criminals are keen students of the criminal statistics, but they have a very good idea of the state of the market, and this is what does the harm. We get these young men coming up at quarter sessions asking for 34 previous offences to be taken into account. This means they have done it 34 times before without being found out. It seems to me that if people are in a position in which they can commit crimes and the prospects of their being caught or punished are very small, we cannot be surprised if we find that crime increases: it is only natural.
§ My Lords, if this is so, here at least is one thing which we can do; we can do what we have failed to do since the war, and that is to increase our police force to cope with the increase in crime. This we have not really attempted to do. There are fewer Metropolitan Police now than there were in 1938. Only six of our 125 police forces in England and Wales are up to establishment, and even the establishments, in view of the increase in crime, probably need increasing. There are 21 London police stations which are closed at night because there are not enough police to man them. We have allowed this state of affairs to become in part a vicious circle; because when, as is now the case, the average policeman gets only one 255 weekend in seven off, and members of the C.I.D. are doing a 70-hour week, how can we expect to increase the police force with the existing conditions? Years after the Dixon Committee recommended that no C.I.D. officer should have a higher annual case-load than 150 cases, the figure to-day varies from 150 to 564.
§ I suggest that what we need to do in regard to our police force is both to rationalise manpower and to equip them to deal with the world in which we are living. It has been said that a policeman with a pocket transistor radio set is worth about 1½ policemen. As policemen each cost £1,500 a year, it is thought to be only common sense so to equip them. In some police forces they have to use their own motor cars and bicycles, because of the deficiencies of those provided by the police. The Metropolitan Police estimate that they could do with 1,000 tape recorders; they have 150. It can take ten of the 134 members of the Fingerprint Department six weeks to trace one important fingerprint. The computer of the New York Police can compare 100,000 fingerprints in two hours. In America, 84 of the police forces have computers, and they are apparently invaluable in many ways. Criminals are mostly creatures of habit, always committing the same crime and in the same way. Obviously, here is admirable material for a computer which can be fed with information. Then when a new crime occurs you can ask the computer, "Who does this look like"? and it can at least tell you, "Well, it has all the marks of so-and-so." We have only one police force which has a helicopter, and 97 per cent. of our burglar alarms last year were false alarms because all the equipment is out of date.
§ I have an old-fashioned view—and I do not know that all those best qualified to judge agree with this: but my view is that the man on the beat is rather a good thing. I appeal to those of your Lordships who are about my age and are Londoners: is it not a fact that when we were young we never knew when a "Bobby" would be coming round the corner? Nowadays, in Central London you can look for a policeman for twenty minutes before finding one; and even when you do find him he is on traffic-duty. To-day, eleven years after the Burrell Committee reported on Police 256 Extraneous Duties, a great many of them are still doing all the things which the Burrell Committee said they ought not to be required to do. They still have much too much clerical work to do; and there are forces in which they are still engaged on changing parking signs, collecting money due under maintenance orders and acting as market inspectors, or as inspectors of shops and weights and measures. In many, if not most, magistrates' courts, they are used as ushers, which I suggest is not a very good thing anyway; because, apart from wasting the time of people who ought to be seeking criminals, it gives the public the impression that a magistrates' court is one which is run by the police.
§ There are still eleven forces in which policemen are used as mortuary attendants, and eight forces in which they are used as mace-bearers. Then, you may find two inspectors and four sergeants all waiting their turn to use the one typewriter which they have to share between them. We shall not get a police force which is capable of tackling the degree of crime that exists to-day, and so an increase in the conviction rate (which is, as I have suggested, much more important as a deterrent than any other single factor), unless and until we can both increase very substantially the numbers of the police and equip them with the sort of things which they ought to have in this modern age. We are getting to a point where there are, I suspect, more university graduates among the criminals than there are among the police.
Now Mr. Whitaker, a member of the Bar who recently made a very large inquiry into and from the police about themselves, and to whose book on the subject I am much indebted, says:
The police themselves say that, apart from rationalisation in manpower and equipment, the greatest help we could give them would be to simplify and codify the law".
I have no doubt that there is a lot in that statement. I have often wondered how on earth policemen know when they are entitled to arrest somebody and when they are not. I myself have never been able to understand what the law is, and I do not know how they do it. It depends a good deal on whether an offence is a felony or a misdemeanour. But as there are a great many misdemeanours which are obviously much worse than a number
of felonies, and as the police also have a number of local Acts of Parliament to take into account, I never know how they do it. I am quite sure that if we were to simplify and rationalise the law it would be of assistance to them.
§ Nothing is more difficult, I think, than to express a view as to how far any loss of confidence by the public in the police is justified. That there has been a loss of confidence, I have no doubt; that this is a bad thing for the police, I have no doubt; and that it is a bad thing for the public, I have no doubt. The difficulty is to get one's proportions right. Most lawyers who are used to criminal work have, I think, much the same opinion: that some of the police are the salt of the earth; that most of them are a very fine body of men, but that there are a very small number who let down the rest by faking evidence in different ways. One way, indeed, is so common that the profession has a name for it—namely, "putting in the verbals". That means that in the course of recording a statement which a man has made they put in one sentence, one deadly sentence, which he never said—such as, "I wonder who's 'grassed' on me?". There it is in the policeman's notebook; and of course he is sticking to it.
§ It is our fault, I think; and it is our fault for two reasons. The first is that we have not increased the police forces to deal with the increase in crime, and the police feel very much up against it. Here is a man, and they are sure he has done the crime, so if there is not enough evidence, well, why not create some? It arises from the fact that the police feel very much up against it. It is a very small proportion only who do this, and it is they, I think, who are largely responsible, with us, for the increasing lack of confidence. The second reason is the extraordinary firmness with which the Home Office have insisted on the police continuing to be judges in their own cause when a member of the public makes a complaint against a policeman. Mr. Whitaker took a sample census of all ranks of a particular police force about this, and he found that 52 per cent. of them, all police, said that they would much prefer that complaints against the police should be heard by an independent body because they themselves thought this would do a great deal to increase public 258 confidence in the police.
§ I had promised myself to limit myself severely in point of time, partly because I am so much looking forward to hearing what your Lordships have to say. I was hoping to cover some provisions of the law which I think would be of assistance, and to say something about prisons, but I am not now proposing to do that. In closing, may I just make this plain—and I do so because I have found, with the Press, that if anybody ever tries to talk some sense on this subject he is usually accused of being an idealist or something of that sort. May I therefore make it quite plain that I am not saying that punishment is not a deterrent. Of course it is. But it is very variable. It is true, I think, to say that the deterrent effect of punishment varies in inverse ratio to the gravity of the offence—that is to say, if you abolished all punishment for, say, murder, arson and incest (I think incest first became a criminal offence in 1903), it is very doubtful whether there would be any more murder, arson or incest.
§ There was one example of this during the war, when the Germans found that the Danish police were an organised part of the very fine Danish resistance movement, and they removed all the police to work camps in Germany. Then, for two years, everybody in Denmark could do what they liked so long as they did not annoy the German army. The result of that was a great increase in property crimes, particularly petty pilfering, no increase at all in murder and no increase at all in what one might call compulsive sexual offences. But, of course, if we were to abolish all punishment for car-parking, the whole of the traffic in London would come to a complete standstill in 48 hours. It is for the small offences that a deterrent is really essential.
§ Secondly, it is very uneven in its operation. A solicitor who embezzles his client's money is sent to prison for five to seven years. This is no deterrent of any kind at all, of course, because he knows when he does it that if he is caught he is going to be tried in the court in which he usually appears as a solicitor, convicted, disgraced, struck off the Rolls by the Law Society and made bankrupt. I have often thought that for such a man, immediately after his trial, to find himself in a prison cell with absolutely 259 no more responsibility for anything at all, because there is nothing he can do, compared with the awful alternative of having to face his wife and children across the breakfast table every morning, and having to take the children away from school, must really be a blessed relief. Having regard to the consequences of conviction to that man, a prison sentence as well adds nothing at all.
§ So I am not saying at all that punishment is not a deterrent. Of course it is; but it acts very variably. To those who are conformists, probably being convicted in a court is as much a deterrent as anything else. Then you have the professional criminal, who just takes the prison sentence as part of his way of life and the thing which happens from time to time. So, while it is a deterrent, we tend, I think, to overestimate it. Lawyers in particular, I think, tend to overestimate anything which the Judges can do to stop a crime wave whose origin, whatever it is, lies a good way back, and is probably due, more than to any other cause, to the way in which the people concerned were brought up when they were children. But so long as we have this passionate belief that all you need to stop crime is to hang people, flog them and send them to prison for long enough, this will close our eyes to what we could be doing and what would undoubtedly reduce the rate of crime: that is, to step up the conviction rate by having a police force equipped in both men and material to meet this increase in crime. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, started his most interesting speech with the most unnecessary apology that I have heard for a long time; because, of course, we realise that he speaks with great experience of the subject on which he addressed us. My main embarrassment at the moment is that I had no idea of what the noble and learned Lord was going to say. We did not have the good fortune to meet in the last two or three days, and when I made some inquiries about the form of the debate from some of his colleagues they all thought that the main subject was this booklet, Crime—A Challenge To Us All, of which he said nothing, except that his name is 260 associated with it, and that it contains a good many sentiments with which he has shown his disagreement.
I would say straight away that there was a very great deal of what the noble and learned Lord said with which I find myself in agreement. I think he was too optimistic when he thought that we should get very early results merely by increasing the number of Institutes of Criminology. From recently hearing the Director of that Institute at Cambridge in the lecture to which the noble and learned Lord referred, and from some conversation with him, I am not at all optimistic about very early practical results, though I am in complete agreement with the noble and learned Lord in desiring a great deal more information on this subject. He did not convince me entirely that it would necessarily be a good thing simply to increase the number of these Institutes of Criminology. More-over, there might, I imagine, be some difficulty in staffing them. I should have thought it might be much better to have one Institute and the research organisations at the Home Office, rather than simply to multiply the Institutes. But certainly I find myself in agreement with his statement that there is a great deal more that we want to know.
I also found myself in agreement with what the noble and learned Lord said about felonies and misdemeanours, and I expect he was as pleased as I was to see from paragraph 22 of the Government White Paper The War Against Crime in England and Wales, 1959–1964, that this is one of the subjects that has been referred to a Committee. He also, I must say, awoke a memory in my mind of my experience when, a very long time ago, I first went to the Bar. I remember being struck by the extra-ordinary contrast, as it seemed to me, between the highly scientific way in which the Common Law and Statutes had worked out every part of the trial—the laws of evidence, the protection of the prisoner, the judge giving proper protection in examination and cross-examination—and the almost blind ignorance of the sentencing at the end. On all that I find myself in agreement; but I think the noble Lord under-estimates the improvement and progress that has been made on all these matters.
261 For one thing I thank him at the very outset. I agree with him on the magnitude of this subject, and I was delighted that he did not seek to deny its extent or to explain it away. I am sure that it is the beginning of wisdom to realise how serious this problem is. My own conviction is that the theory of punishment is rather more important than is sometimes supposed. I have always thought that the problem of punishment is, perhaps, the most difficult that philosophers, lawyers and statesmen have to face. I have always been very much astonished at the number of people who see at once that a great moral question is involved if a man is sentenced to capital punishment, yet do not realise that an equally difficult moral question is involved if he is sentenced to imprisonment. Because I think that the theories of punishment will influence both our practice and the extent of crime, I want briefly to examine them and to try to avoid certain misconceptions. I am afraid that I have often done this before, but as some two and a half years have passed since I last did it, and as nobody ever remembers anything I have said, perhaps I may say some of it again.
My Lords, there are three main theories of the justification and purpose of punishment: retribution, reformation and deterrence. None of these three can be pursued to the exclusion of both the others without producing absurd and even shocking results. All this is most familiar to many, and to no one more than the noble Earl, Lord Longford, who I see is to intervene later in this debate. To him I should like to say how much I enjoyed reading in the past week his book, The Idea of Punishment. Although, of course, there were points on which we differed, I was glad to see how much we agreed.
I agree with those thinkers—and they include the late Archbishop Temple, whose views I quoted in an earlier debate—who take the view that retribution is the most fundamental aspect of punishment. Retribution has been widely misunderstood. It is, of course, quite distinct from private vengeance, and it is sometimes expressed in two Latin words, suum cuique: to each his deserts. In fact, those of us who believe in retribution believe that there is reality and truth in the statement that 262 a criminal deserves his punishment. That does not mean we cannot find a proper place for reform and deterrence, although I do not say that the two will never conflict. If, however, retribution itself is wrong—and it is remarkable how often that seems to be assumed—I am certain that we cannot justify punishment either on the grounds of reform or on the grounds of deterrence. Man is a creature of responsibility and some free will. If the State treats the criminal simply as "a subject for remedial care it is ignoring his moral character" (and in part of that sentence I am quoting the actual words of Archbishop Temple). Nor will such a punishment succeed. A punishment is not just because it reforms. It may reform, if it is seen to be just. Nor can we possibly justify punishment on the sole ground of deterrence.
Here, if I may, I will quote Archbishop Temple's actual words:Now, so far as punishment is deterrent only, it is treating the criminal as a means to an end, and though the law which condemned him may aim at preserving him from the crime, the actual infliction of the punishment is mainly concerned with other people. So far as this is true, it is non-moral; and if there were no other element in any instance of punishment, it would be immoral, for it is always immoral to treat a person only as a means to some end other than his own well-being.I quote that to show that if the whole idea of retribution—what I have called suum cuique—is not just and right, then we cannot justify punishment on the ground of deterrence; nor can we justify it on the ground of reform.
If I may give one final proof of the fact that deterrence is not a ground on which alone we can justify punishment, I would remind your Lordships—it will be fresh in the mind of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner—that there is more wisdom in the two or three opening chapters of Kenny's Outlines of Criminal Law than in most of the works that have been written since. The noble Lord may remember the neatness of the proof that the idea of making deterrence the sole criterion in punishment would offend our moral sentiments, because he takes the example of extenuating circumstances. There is not one of us who would not feel that extenuating circumstances, in a proper case, are a ground for mitigating the penalty, but, of course, 263 if deterrence were the sole object, they would be a ground for increasing it.
I have said something, because I think it has its consequences on the practical side, of the three main theories of punishment. Let me point out, as I have done before, that these distinctions do not trouble the ordinary man at all, for nearly always any punishment will have some of the characteristics of each of these theories. If I may give an example, which I have given before, suppose you see an abominable attack by a brute on a child, rush to intervene, knock him out and save the child, it is almost a matter of chance, if you say anything, whether you will say, "I'll teach him" or, "I'll give him his deserts" or, "I'll see that he doesn't do that again". If you say any of those three things, you will have given one of the three different theories of punishment.
On this argument that retribution is fundamental, I believe that the duty of the State is to punish crime. The noble and learned Lord gave an amusing and good example of the solicitor convicted of fraud; but I still think that it would shock the community if he were not punished, and the shock to the community would be injurious to the interests of the public, though I frankly admit that there is a great deal in what the noble and learned Lord said.
Having said that retribution is fundamental, I am glad to say that the book of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, does not differ on that. But the noble Earl said in his book that the word "retribution" is so much misunderstood—which is true—that he wanted to find a different term. I do not quite agree with him there. If an idea is right but widely misunderstood, I think the best thing we can do is to correct the misunderstanding rather than to change the name. If retribution is right, that does not mean that it excludes mercy; nor does it justify us, in using the necessary punishment of prison, if we do not do our best for the prisoner.
There is a great deal in the book with which I agree about the overcrowding of prisons, to which I will refer later, but this brings me to my criticism of one of the key proposals in Crime—A Challenge to us All. I know that the noble and learned Lord will not think 264 me unfair in introducing this, because I know that many subsequent speakers on his side are going to speak about it. The proposal is to set up family courts to deal with boys and girls up to school-leaving age who commit what hitherto have been considered crimes, and they will deal with them under civil procedure. What I have been unable to discover—and perhaps some subsequent speaker will enlighten me—is this: Does it or does it not mean that the court will be able to punish these children? I have been unable to discover the answer to that simple question by reading the pages from 23 onwards.
If I may give a few statistics to show what may be involved, some 14,000 children aged 10 and 11, and some 24,000 aged 13 and 14, are found guilty of indictable offences every year or are cautioned after having admitted the offence. Some 11,000 commit non-indictable offences, which vary from malicious damage to riding a bicycle without a light. Only a very small proportion of these children are sent to approved schools. Many are absolutely or conditionally discharged, and some 12,000 are fined.
As I understand these pages—I shall be corrected if I am wrong—offences are divided, without much definition, into two classes. If the cases are not very serious, the children will not be tried or punished in any way whatsoever in respect of these offences. The matter will simply be passed over. On the other hand, if the offence is not trivial, then that is considered cogent evidence in itself that the child is in need of care and so forth. Of course, the child who commits a serious offence may have an unsuitable home; but perhaps he has not an unsuitable home, and the fact of the child having done what he is charged with may be a matter of acute dispute.
I gather from these passages in the document that the ordinary standards of proof are to apply, but, if the court is to be bound by the accepted rules of evidence, which apparently it is to be, it would not make an order at all giving the custody of children to a stranger if there was nothing wrong with their home. The juvenile court, whatever its faults may be, does try to protect the public, to provide for the welfare of the children, and to respect 265 the rights of parents. Are we really certain, if all these children of school age are not to be punished at all for any wrong they do, that we shall either be protecting the public or doing some-thing in the interests of the child? I can only give my own conviction, that we shall be doing neither: that what is required in some cases is quite clearly punishment, and, amongst other things, a fine may be perfectly suitable punishment. I do not want to repeat the arguments that we went through when we were discussing the 1963 Statute, but we have provided by Section 16(2) of that Statute that an offence of a juvenile shall not be quoted as evidence of a previous conviction in proceedings against a person over 21.
If I am puzzled by the proposal of the family court for the children of school age, I am still more puzzled by the proposal for young people's courts to deal with criminal offences, among other things, by young people up to the age of 21. I can see no reason whatsoever why someone between the ages of 17 and 21, an adult in everything except that he has not reached the legal coming-of-age of 21, who commits a serious crime should not be brought before our ordinary courts. In fact, if it was a serious assault, or a rape, I wonder what good purpose would be served by saying that such young people should not go before the ordinary courts.
I do not wish to deal in great detail with this document. I have dealt with two proposals, which frankly I think are not good and will not bring about what I am certain must be the good intention of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord, after thanking him for the kindly references to myself in another connection, whether he has had an opportunity of studying the findings of the Kilbrandon Committee?
§ LORD CONESFORD
The answer is that I have not given them the full attention they deserve, though there is one passage I looked at and was going to mention. I may say that to the one passage in the Kilbrandon Committee's findings which I did examine I was going to ask the Government to give a 266 little further consideration, so I dare-say I should be critical of some other passages in it, also. But, like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, I do not profess to be speaking for anybody other than myself. He gave his views, and I am giving mine.
The next point on which I feel a great doubt about this document, for which I admit I share none of the admiration which I have already expressed for the book of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, on the idea of punishment (I think there is a great difference between what he says when writing on a serious philosophical and ethical problem and what he says when writing a Party pamphlet), is this immense multiplication of institutions, officials and staff. There is even a proposal for an extra Minister. I am not convinced either of the utility of this proliferation or of the possibility of carrying it out. There is a passage on page 66 the logic of which I find faulty. It says:A prerequisite of progress is therefore an all-out drive to recruit and train staff of all kinds.Then a little later it says:The problem of recruiting is not daunting. At present there are, for example, some 2,000 probation officers as compared with 300,000 teachers.In other words, there are many fewer probation officers than teachers, and as we certainly have too few teachers, therefore there is no particular difficulty in increasing the smaller number. If we were trying to increase the bigger number of teachers, as we are, that might be difficult; but if we try to increase the smaller number of probation officers, it ought to be easy. I do not follow that.
The Government's White Paper, The War Against Crime in England and Wales, shows a great number of projects that are being pursued and will be pursued. The noble Earl's book, Crime—A Challenge To Us All, contains a number of proposals with some of which I have sympathy. But I honestly do not think that all these subsidiary matters which are dealt with in the report are matters that have wholly escaped the notice of the Home Office. Since I became a Member of another place, in 1935, I have had (perhaps more when I was a Member of another place than in this House) some contact throughout the period both with Ministers at the Home Office, of both 267 Parties, and with officials. I believe that in these matters it is a very enlightened Department. I do not believe it is as idle in all these matters as might be thought from reading some passages in this book.
May I quote one more passage which I find very surprising indeed—it is on page 45—with regard to the number of those in prison who are debtors? There was a Parliamentary Question about the subject a few days ago. This is what it says:Technically, imprisonment for debt is imprisonment for contempt of court.Not only technically but in fact; that is precisely what it is. It is imprisonment of those who can pay and will not. The passage goes on:None the less, the offender would not be in court at all if he were not in debt.That is not a very high standard of serious argument.
If that is not very good, may I say how disappointed I was with Chapter I of this document, which seems to me too silly even for a Party pamphlet. We are all aware of the horrible destructiveness of some people, both of public and private property. It is one of the real problems with which all of us should attempt to deal, and which none of us should try to explain away. I was interested to see what it was all due to: it was due to the fact that the Tories were critical of nationalisation. That has given all these children the idea that they can regard all property, public and private, as legitimate loot. I agree that I have been against several of the nationalisation schemes of the Socialist Party, but, so far as I know, neither I nor any of my friends proposed that the Post Office should be restored to private enterprise. But no object is more attacked than telephone kiosks: there is constant trouble with them, and with deck-chairs. I have far too high an opinion of the noble Lords who thought about and contributed to this booklet to think they believe the appalling nonsense that they have stated in the very first chapter.
§ LORD CONESFORD
The noble Earl knows me well enough to know that I do not hesitate to yield. I would only 268 say that one of the things I regret is that it may have put off many serious students from reading the rest.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I have a high regard for the noble Lord's moral attainments, and some regard for his intellectual attainments. I at least credit him with the power to read. If he is capable of reading, he knows that what he has just said is totally false. He has asked the question: what in our opinion is it all due to? To say that we say it is all due to this attitude to nationalisation is wildly removed from the truth. I must ask the noble Lord to show himself capable in future of reading a document correctly, even if he does not like its tone.
§ LORD CONESFORD
Speaking as a good Conservative, from a Party point of view, of course, I was delighted with this tone. The sillier Chapter I is, the better from that point of view; but as a serious student of crime I regret the silliness of Chapter I. But I agree with the noble Lord that if I said it is all due to this attitude, of course that is an exaggeration. If it does the noble Lord any good, let me urge all my noble friends to buy and read the document. I hope they will.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, is the noble Lord prepared to withdraw and apologise for a serious misrepresentation?
§ LORD CONESFORD
I will certainly withdraw the inaccuracy, but if the noble Earl says that it is a serious misrepresentation I can only say that I am perfectly willing to leave that to the judgment of all who read this chapter. The reaction was just the same in the leader in The Times on the day of publication of this document, when it said how unfortunate it was. It is the "get rich quick" ethos of the affluent society, and all that sort of thing. I have no doubt that there are some noble Lords opposite who believe it. But I do not think it adds to the effect of what purports to be a serious study of crime and punishment. The noble Earl really must not get too much annoyed with me simply because I have a low opinion of the work of the committee under his chairmanship. It may be very wrong of me, but it is not a criminal offence, nor does it show bad character.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, the noble Lord has made a total mis-statement, and that is what I object to. That is what is annoying. The noble Lord never in my recollection has made a total mis-statement for which he has not expressed regret, and he is starting a very bad era in his Parliamentary annals.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I am making a speech from very short notes. I hope the noble Earl knows me well enough—we have known each other a good many years—to know that I do not intentionally misrepresent. If I said, and if anybody took me seriously, that this is all due to the Tories, of course it is untrue. I withdraw it absolutely unhesitatingly.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I thought that was superfluous. If the idea is that this chapter can be defended—although I may be entirely wrong—I think it cannot. I do not know how many times the noble Earl has stood as a candidate at an Election. I have stood for another place at five Elections, four times successfully, once unsuccessfully, but I cannot remember a single General Election in which I took part in which far more appeals to greed were not made by what is now Her Majesty's Opposition than were ever made by my Party.
Before I conclude, there are three things I should like the Government seriously to consider. I have several more, but I know how many speakers there are. The first is as regards juvenile crime. I believe that nothing could be more useful, after these out-rageous expeditions of damage, than really heavy fines. I believe a great deal of harm has been done by those—and they are not limited to any one side in politics—who talk about some of these outrageous assaults on property and people by the young as though they were explained or excused by boredom or frustrated energies. Boredom is, of course, not an excuse for crime, but I think those who make a study of psychology might well come to the conclusion that these young people do not commit offences because they are bored, but that they are bored because they commit offences. That may be a novelty to 270 many, but I think, if they think it out, they will find that there is something in it. Nor is it true to say that these boys—those, for instance, who started their holiday by breaking up a refreshment room and knocking down and assaulting the lady in charge were suffering from frustrated energies. The public were suffering because their energies were not frustrated. It is quite a simple distinction, and an important one.
I said that I would mention a passage in the Kilbrandon Report (which will be found on page 14 and onwards) in which the Report expresses, and cogently argues, some of the great difficulties about fining and making the parents pay. I hope that there will be some further examination by the Government of this whole subject, because I do not share the view that a young person, fined because he has done a lot of damage to property, which may be private or may be public, is quite unable to connect the two things and to see the justice of his punishment.
The only other two things I wish to say deal with prisons. I see the necessity for prisons. I think men must be imprisoned from time to time, and I do not suppose prisons will ever be pleasant. Nevertheless, I think we should do everything we can to abolish certain great evils. I think that a man's de-privation of liberty is sufficient. I think it is intolerable if he has also to suffer from unsatisfactory sanitary conditions, or gross overcrowding. I think it very unfortunate—though I know this is more difficult to deal with—if his day's work is made inevitably much less than it could profitably be.
Before I conclude, there is one other subject in connection with imprisonment that I should like to touch upon. When I was a young man I met, both in London and at Oxford, the late Alexander Paterson, and was very much impressed, as were so many people who knew him, by his character and views. I confess, not only because they were his views but because they have always been my own, that I have a horror of very long prison sentences. At present, the court sometimes has to pass such sentences. The matter was recently discussed in the Court of Criminal Appeal in the case of some appeals by the train robbers. One of the reasons by which 271 the Court felt compelled to impose very long sentences was that otherwise these men would come out comparatively early and enjoy the immense wealth that resulted from their crime, because it would be impossible to prove the actual origin of their wealth—how the bank notes had become some other form of property.
I offer a suggestion, not that I suppose it is immediately practicable but as something deserving of further study. I should like to know very much what the noble and learned Lord who introduced this Motion, for instance, would think about it. It seems to me a not impossible change in the law that, when the amount of the stolen property as a result of a great crime of this sort is known, there should be a punishment, inter alia, imposing a liability to make good that sum and making it the joint and several liability of the convicted prisoners. Of course, they would be unable to pay, but they could be made bankrupt; and that could be done (legislation would be needed) whenever they were let out. Bankruptcy does not take a man's tools of his trade; humane provision could be made for all that; but he would never be able to be a rich man as a result of his crime. If there were anything like that in the penal code, the Court of Criminal Appeal would at least not be compelled to approve a very long term of imprisonment merely to avoid a very undesirable result.
My Lords, I apologise if I have kept the House too long. I think that the noble and learned Lord has raised a most interesting subject. I believe that those who study it most are the least dogmatic as to what the answers should be, and that the problem of punishment with which I have endeavoured to deal is one of the most difficult which faces the reformer, the Parliamentarian, the philosopher and even, perhaps, the theologian.
§ 4.2 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord who initiated this debate will not want us to waste very much of the limited time at our disposal, in view of the number of speakers, by expressing our gratitude to him or our admiration for 272 his speech, but I think we shall all want to repeat that we are grateful to him. We listened to his speech of devastating clarity, of uninterrupted eloquence, with at least the sense that it would have a deterrent effect on any of us who were in danger of becoming involved in controversial litigation with him on the other side.
I may say straight away that I found myself in almost entire agreement with the line of thought that he was developing. The only possible hesitation, I think, would be that I found him a little more optimistic than I should be in the likelihood of scientific investigation being able to find the complete answer. We must certainly find out everything we possibly can, and I am entirely in favour of stepping up the processes whereby this matter can be brought under the rational control of scientific investigation; but I suspect that the human mind, and still more the human will, is about the most subtle and complex organism to which science can give its attention, and we just do not know whether any scientific examination of this sort can lead us to that particular secret which will control and guide the behaviour of others.
I am also grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Conesford, for leading us into the examination of the philosophy of punishment. It was many years ago, before either he or I was a Member of your Lordships' House, that he drew my attention to that passage in Kenny's book, and I profited from my study of it. I feel now that I should like to add a fourth purpose in punishment. We have heard about the reformatory, the retributive and the deterrent aspects of punishment, but I feel that punishment also has a place, or something which might take the place of punishment in bearing witness to the kind of society that we wish to exist in our own country. If I may take a very obvious and now rather crude example, I regard the heavy punishments in the train robbery case not only as necessary for deterrence but as an indication of how this country is determined to maintain positively a peaceful ordering of its life without this kind of interruption. I think that if one looks at the processes of the law as in some way bearing witness to the positive aims of the good society, it sometimes is more 273 illuminating than if one looks on them as purely directed to the actual cases of misdemeanour or crime that they are, in fact, dealing with at that moment.
We have had many documents on this subject lately: the Command Paper The War Against Crime, a very valuable paper which has been referred to already; Children and Young Persons, Scotland, which has been referred to this afternoon by the name of its Chairman; and the recent paper Crime—A Challenge To Us All. I am sure that I have myself learned something from my reading of these and other documents. I find them really much more in agreement than in disagreement, once, so to speak, politics is taken out of them. They are all dealing with the same problem, and many of them seem to think that the answers are likely to be found in the same direction.
I did, in fact, find the Government White Paper a little more open about their failures than was the Labour Party's report open about Government successes; but that is inevitable. It is the result of the way in which we conduct our society and, up to a point, this dialectic is a very good way of bringing out the truth. I hope to show, perhaps at the end of my speech, which I shall try to keep within some limits, that there may be some restraints which we have to exercise in the carrying out of our normal two-Party system in connection with some of these matters. We often talk about the need for a bipartisan policy in connection with foreign affairs. It may be still more necessary to have a bipartisan policy in connection with some of these matters with which the minds and outlooks of immature people are often involved.
I was interested in the order in which the Labour Party's report was laid out. It had a scheme, and a very logical one. I saw it like this. They began by thinking of the most likely catchment area for crime: broken homes, deprived children and so on. They planned then to do everything possible to forestall delinquency. When it appeared, they laid stress on early treatment; and when even that had failed they went forward to the necessary subject of combating crime when it actually existed. That was one way of approaching this matter. I must say that before I had an oppor- 274 tunity to study that Paper I found myself approaching it from another angle, in another order. I do not say that my order is any better—it is, in fact, more crude—than the one in their paper, but in thinking about this matter I should begin with the physical defence of the community against existing crime and go on to the treatment of those who are arrested and convicted and, finally, to the shaping of our society in such a way that these difficulties and hindrances to the good life should be reduced or brought down to much more limited proportions. Whether there is any difference in that approach I do not know, I mention it merely because it is the way in which I had approached it.
On the question of the physical defence of the community, I should like to say how much I was impressed by the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, about these practical things that the police need. I know nothing about it—I speak as a layman in these matters. But I must say that in my own very ignorant way I have often been surprised that the progress of technology has not made more difference than it seems to have done to the ability of the police to deal with crime on an ever-increasing scale. Perhaps I might give just one example that often has occurred to me; I have no doubt that there is quite a simple answer to it, but I give it simply to show that I have thought about it. It seems to me an extraordinary thing that nearly every motorised bank robbery is successful, at any rate, to the point of getting away with the loot, though they may be found out afterwards.
One would have thought that in a country like our own, with all the apparatus of science at our disposal, there would be some physical method whereby, when there had been a serious bank raid, some simple metal barrier could be lowered at the street corners of the area concerned, so making it impossible for the car to escape the area of investigation. I am sure that any-body who knows anything about police work would say that such a scheme is quite impossible; but, if so, perhaps something else could be thought of. I think we have to apply to these criminal questions something of the ingenuity, the determination to succeed, that was 275 applied to some of the problems that arose during the war. "Pipe Line Under The Ocean", for example, when the Prime Minister of the day said he did not want to know the difficulties; all he wanted to know was when the object had been achieved. I think it is in something like that spirit that we have to approach this problem. I do not think myself this is by any means the most important part, but it is the immediate part that perhaps should be dealt with, and surely could be dealt with.
But when all that has been done, unless there is some extraordinary transformation in the character and habits of the nation, there is going to be quite a lot of crime committed for a considerable time to come; and at any rate some of those responsible are going to be apprehended for it. Here I accept the argument in the report Crime—A Challenge To Us All, that our own methods have failed so lamentably that there is a good case for approaching at any rate the juvenile end of this problem in quite a new way. And I find Crime—A Challenge To Us All, largely in line with the Paper Children and Young Persons, Scotland. It is true that there is a difference in the solutions offered by those two reports. One suggests that this operation should be under the control of the Home Office, and the Scottish report suggests that it should be under the education authorities.
I will not go into the subtleties of where the two systems overlap—because they do overlap to a certain extent. But on the whole I think that the Labour Party's suggestion is the better one, because it seems to me that the Home Office, by its history, and experience, is used to dealing with the investigation of crime and bringing it to at any rate some clarification, if not justice; and the problem at the detection stage is of a quite different kind from the educational problems that confront the education authorities. I could not go as far as they did in suggesting special young persons' courts for people between 17 and 21. It is obviously not a matter in which one can argue every detail in one speech, but it seemed to me that the 17 to 21 group that have already embarked upon criminal activity must be thought 276 to be adults in that sense, if not in other senses; and one can hardly think it would be helpful to their dignity and sense of responsibility if at that age they were treated as juveniles.
The family advice centres seem to me to have very much to offer, and it costs a bishop something to support this proposal, because when it comes to family welfare we have perhaps thought that at any rate there, if nowhere else the Churches had something in which they specialised, which they had known about for a great many years, if not centuries, and with which they could still deal fairly adequately. But we must face facts. The Churches exist for the people and not for themselves, and if it is a fact in the modern world that many of our families would be willing to seek help and guidance from such centres when they would not easily seek it from religious bodies, then I am certain that the Churches would want to support this proposal wholeheartedly.
When it comes to prison, I have some doubt in my mind whether the time is not drawing near when the whole idea of prison, as we have understood it, has outlived its usefulness. Obviously there must be some limitations to this view. One cannot imagine, for instance, some-body who had just committeed a terrible sadistic crime on a child being found walking up and down the village or town street the next day. This would be to put upon parents a strain which they could not possibly be expected to accept. But there would be cases where the people concerned would be detained because of mental instability; and there would be some small group, I think, of crimes where perhaps a temporary separation from the rest of the community would be necessary. One must always remember, however, that these sentences do not last for a very great time, and the separation is a purely temporary matter which we hope will work out, in the end, to the benefit of the person, though, of course, we can never prophesy that in advance.
It sometimes occurs to me that, just as a child grows out of the period when it can benefit from being stood in a corner, or shut up in a bedroom, so it may be that our society, with all its means of communications, has outgrown the stage at which it can use the prison 277 sentence in the way it did formerly. We need, I believe, to think a lot about that possibility. We know that open prisons and projects of this kind are already moving very much in this direction, and no doubt the way of progress is to develop these, rather than to abolish prison at all in the ordinary sense of the word. I may say, in passing, that while one has every sympathy for the Labour Party group's proposal that some of our great ugly prisons in London should be brought to the ground, one cannot help knowing that, if one were responsible for keeping up the prison accommodation, and keeping it in proportion to the number of people who had to be kept in prison, it would obviously not be possible to indulge in jeux d'esprits of that particular sort.
With regard to the police, I should like to mention an article in one of our church magazines, Crucible, which is an organ of the Board for Social Responsibility. It recently devoted a longish article to the question of the relations between the public and the police. This article has been much appreciated by the police and has been published at their request as a separate pamphlet. It was only a first investigation, and we all know that there is a great deal that has to be done to adjust the relationship between the police and the public in this new age.
I had some hesitation myself about the proposal that lay observers should be brought into police investigations. I was interested to hear that the number in favour of this among a certain group of police was 52 per cent. That leaves 48 per cent. on the other side, and I wondered whether in other places the proportion might be different. It seems to me to be a proposal that has to be looked at carefully, because in the first place it is saying in a most public way to the nation, "Things have now reached such a pitch that every complaint against the police must have a lay person present or else you never know whether it is going to be done fairly". That is really a serious charge to lay against the police, however unintentional it may be. There would also come a point at which the police would lose their sense of confidence in themselves if they felt that special arrangements were being set up all over the country to investigate their 278 failures. I raise these points because they were difficulties that occurred in my own mind.
I should like to conclude by saying a few words—I cannot say I have them prepared in any exact detail—about the spirit of the country is so far as this conduces to crime or to its absence. This is a most complicated question, and I should not myself expect to get near the right answer in a few moments, but I would throw out this thought, if your Lordships would be good enough to consider it. It seems to me that one of the secrets of a society in which crime is small and manageable—if one can use such a word—is that large numbers of the people, by far the great majority, should have ambition, and that part of that ambition should be the approval of society as they see it represented by its leaders. It is that sense—that the approval of the establishment, with a small "e", is worth having—that has largely gone from our country, and, if I may say so, it is as well for us to realise that, so far as this sort of thing is concerned, both sides of this House, all Parties, all groups of leaders, come under like condemnation from the point of view of large numbers of the younger generation.
It is easy to point this out, but most difficult to find an answer. I think that one possible cause of it is that we have allowed the spirit of mutual criticism to reach such a point that all normal admiration is, so to speak, frustrated at source. The kind of thing I have in mind is illustrated by such a thing as alleged bribery on the professional football field. That, in so far as it exists, is a moral failure on the part of those who have yielded to this temptation. I make no comment on that. But what I feel is that if the ordinary worker or the ordinary youth cannot at least look up to his sporting heroes, then the nerve of one whole side of his ambition and forward-looking development has been cut. I could give many illustrations of this which would be wearisome to your Lordships. But it is a fact, I think, that with all our modern methods of publicity we have developed the power of criticism, the power of nosing out possible corruptions and wrong motives to such an extent that we have made it almost impossible for anybody to look up to anybody else wholeheartedly and without reserve.
279 What the answer to this is I do not know; but I think that one answer to it might be that we should all be a little more restrained in finding fault, a little more generous in approving what can be approved, and thus infiltrating into the nation the idea that this mysterious "they" are not all corrupt, they are not all self-seekers, and they are not all deceivers, but they are at the head of a nation which is trying to move forward in a helpful and constructive way.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, I should like to join the two noble Lords who have just addressed your Lordships in thanking the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, not only for introducing this Motion, but for the most entertaining and instructive way in which he did it, and, if I may say so with respect, for keeping his feet on the ground. In my remarks I do not intend to go into the heights of theory. Crime is increasing. What are we going to do about it—in fact, not in theory? I believe that we have to ask ourselves an honest question and get an honest answer.
The question the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner raised, and also in another way the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, was: do we in this country still believe that punishment is a deterrent to wrongdoing? And if we do, should not the punishment for the wrongdoing prove a deterrent? The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, I think got his values a little muddled. I do not believe that those who are going to spend thirty years of their lives in prison for the mail train robbery want any deterrent—a deterrent is no good to them. But I am fairly certain that it will be a deterrent to many others who may think that robbing trains is a successful and profitable pastime. Surely, the punishment for the wrongdoer is to deter potential wrongdoers, because if the punishment is the correct one it will deter the man who has already been culpable.
I should like to commend the three Judges of the High Court who presided over the Court of Criminal Appeal, on the way they interpreted what I believe to be the innermost feelings of the vast bulk of the people of this country. The noble Lord the Minister of State is not in his place at the moment, but perhaps 280 his noble friend who is acting for him will pass on this suggestion. I should like a reprint of Mr. Justice Lawton's magnificent judgment in that case sent out as a supplement to the booklet Sentence of the Court which I criticised somewhat in your Lordships' House a little time ago.
I hold that the Government—and I think that the Goverment will admit this—subscribe to the doctrine that punishment should be a deterrent to wrong-doing. Only the other day in your Lord-ships' House we gave a Second Reading to a Bill which increases the penalties for malicious damage and increases the liability to costs. The Government spokesmen, not only in this House but in another place, said, "This may deter these young hooligans who will now find that they may have to pay a penalty of £200 for malicious damage". The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was kind enough to say on that occasion that, had I been in my place, I should have asked the Government to compare the experience of Parliament in increasing the deterrents for killing and maiming people on the roads with the result that is in prospect following the new penalties which are to be imposed for malicious damage. I hesitate to accuse the Government of thinking that the magistrates' courts in this country, when it comes to providing a deterrent in regard to the number of people who are killed on the roads, will hold in higher regard the value of the chattels of their fellow citizens than they do the limbs and lives of those citizens.
I make no apology to your Lordships for raising this question, because the best booklet I have ever read on this subject came out only yesterday. It is the Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector for Constabulary for 1963, which contains so much common sense as to the practical difficulties of enforcing the law. After all, the whole of our social life depends in relation to crime upon three things: detection, prosecution and punishment. One cannot achieve the last two before one has first detected the crime. One of the most interesting facts contained in this booklet, which I would commend your Lordships to read, is that 50 per cent. of the indictable crimes of this country are now at the door of youths of 21 and under: that is 281 a shocking thing. The Chief Inspector also draws attention to the number of offenders of 14 years of age who are now prosecuted. It is many a day since I read in any newspaper of the prosecution of one of these under-21s for dangerously riding a motor-cycle or for speeding offences.
One of the things which we have to combat in this war against crime is the contempt in which the law is held. These youths get away with this behaviour so often that they think they can get away with anything. They march through respectable cities throwing bricks through plate-glass windows, and after they have done all these things they get a lecture from the chairman of the bench and are put on probation. What does the noble Lord think the position will be when, out of the blue, instead of probation, they are fined £100 and have to pay another £100 in costs for the damage they do—when the average fine to-day for dangerous driving is so much less? The average fine for all the serious offences—and they are crimes—against the Road Traffic Act is a third of that total. Here I would quote the words of the Home Secretary:I do not accept that there is any essential difference between offences against the traffic law and offences against the criminal law. Both are offences against society.I quoted that in your Lordships' House a week ago. The Inspector of Constabulary says in his Report that the motor car is the modern weapon of the criminal: 76,600 motor cars are wrong-fully stolen, and stolen by criminals, and when they are apprehended in getting away with the loot of their crime they are generally in a stolen motor car.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, who is not in his place at the moment, told your Lordships about the chances of not being caught, and of the youth who wanted 36 other crimes taken into consideration when he was summoned for housebreaking, or whatever it was. I wonder whether your Lord-ships have ever worked out how many of the road traffic laws you can break, and your chances of never being caught? It is hundreds to one against. Why is this so? The Chief Inspector of Constabulary points to some of the reasons, and if the noble Lord, the Minister of State, will forgive my saying so, one is the parsimonious attitude adopted by 282 the Home Office is not equipping the police force as it should be equipped. They want more patrol cars, more mechanical devices, and, of course, they are short of policemen. This theme runs through the whole of this Report. The Report points to the absolute impossibility of enforcing some of the laws which Parliament, in its wisdom or otherwise, passes. We churn out regulations without any thought of how the police are ever to enforce them.
I read in the Press the other day that the Minister of Transport has conducted a blitz on goods-carrying vehicles, as to their fitness to be on the road. Thirty-eight per cent. of them have proved to be totally unfit for their purpose: 38 per cent. of those vehicles were being criminally used. There have been Construction and Use Regulations, providing that vehicles must have proper brakes, steering and other mechanical equipment, for as many years as I can remember, and it is only just lately, through discussion in your Lordships' House, that this question has come to the fore. I venture to suggest to your Lordships that if those vehicles had been stopped and the weight of the load they were carrying checked, there would be another 38 per cent. on top of that.
We want more police. Is it the fault of Parliament that we are not getting them? Is it the fault of Parliament that we pass these regulations too lightly? I took it on myself, in your Lordships' House, to criticise the imposition of the 50 miles-an-hour speed limit over certain week-ends by saying that it was a futile thing to do. The police could not enforce it. I asked the Government whether the police had been consulted and I was told, Yes, they had. That surprised me. They had been consulted; but the Government did not tell your Lordships that the police had said, "Yes, it is a good idea, but we cannot enforce it. We have not the man-power to enforce it."
My Lords, I wonder whether in this regard we are not seeking to do the impossible. Are we seeking to do the impossible by enforcing unenforceable laws? Because I feel certain that your Lordships will agree with me that any Act that is upon the Statute Book but that is not enforced and is unenforceable only brings the law into contempt and adds to the incentive for the wrongdoer 283 to carry on wrongdoing. The Chief Inspector of Constabulary points to the speed limit. He comes down on the side of the view that the speed of vehicles is a factor in road accidents, and the higher the speed the more serious is the damage when an accident occurs. But he said that the police cannot enforce the law; they do not have the manpower; and it is put into operation unevenly. He says that radar is a very good thing; but how many police forces in this country have radar equipment? I believe a few have. I know one county constabulary have one piece of apparatus, and I think they have 500 miles of trunk road to police. How many have proper motor vehicles or motor-cycles to police all the roads that are now getting so congested?
I put a Question down last week, and if he will permit me to say so I think the noble Lord the Minister of State gave me a most helpful answer. I did not expect him to commit himself, but he did hold out hope that the time would come when there would have to be amalgamations of police forces, not only for the proper supervision of our over-crowded roads and their proper disciplining, but also for the proper detection of other crime. The day afterwards it was reported in the Press that his right honourable friend proposed to amalgamate Northamptonshire County Constabulary with that of Northampton Borough, and I think there was another case in Bedfordshire. Then, of course, the cry went up from the vested interests of the respective local authorities, "You can't do that there 'ere"; and that is what the Home Secretary will be up against. Yet in to-day's article on this report of the Chief Inspector——
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD DERWENT)
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? The local authorities were not so stupid after the Police Bill as to say "You can't do that there 'ere". What they said was, "We would rather you did not". It is not quite the same thing.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
Whatever they said, that is what they meant. The Times article finishes up:The extension now of regional crime squads from areas where they already exist to cover the whole of Britain is the next logical step.284 When the Police Bill was before your Lordships' House I did not hear a dissenting voice, except from the Benches of the Government, to the effect that sooner or later, for the proper detection and prosecution of crime, we shall have to have a national police force. That is the logical argument and the logical thing to do.
Another matter to which I think the Government, if not this one its successor, will have to give its very serious attention is the perpetual conflict between the petty sessional courts and Parliament. Of all road traffic offences 80 per cent. have to be heard by magistrates' courts. I would not from my experience fault the way they hear the cases and the conclusions to which they come: I think they are wholly admirable. But when they come to put into operation the expressed will of Parliament that is printed in the Statutes, in regard to the punishments that should be inflicted as a deterrent, then to use the vernacular, "they fall flat on their faces". The record of quarter sessions in regard to charges of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs is appalling. The average of convictions to prosecutions is about 50 per cent.; and sometimes the figure of convictions goes down to 12 per cent. Yet there is no more heinous crime known in this country than driving a motor vehicle on the Queen's highway when drunk.
§ LORD LINDGREN
My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, but would he not agree that that state of affairs is largely due to the fact that those cases are for trial by jury, and very often a lawyer who has a client says, "Do not have it dealt with in the magistrates' court. Go to quarter sessions. You will have a jury and you will be unlucky if ten of them are not motorists?"
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
I think the noble Lord is quite right. I hesitate to criticise the jury system, and yet the jury system is responsible for this. The average conviction rate in magistrates' courts is 96 per cent., and it is under 50 per cent. in quarter sessions.
This brings me to another, and perhaps my final, point. We must take out of much of the law to-day the question 285 of opinion; we must have it as a question of fact. We shall never cure this problem—and the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, has so cogently illustrated it—unless we have a mechanical device to record the content of alcohol in the blood, so that there is no argument against it. I wonder, also, whether we are not moving towards more ticket fining. We took one step, so that one may now get a ticket for breaking the parking law. I wonder how far we are from having a fine on the spot for exceeding the speed limit, if exceeding the speed limit can be registered by mechanical means as I am assured it can. We cannot go on with the conflict that there is at the present time, which is because the road traffic law is being administered in such a way that it is no deterrent. That is one of the reasons, in my view, why we are not properly coping with the accident rate.
There is one other suggestion which I am going to make to the noble Lord the Minister of State. I wonder whether the logical thing to do would be to take all the offences that motorists can commit, with the exception of those which entail bodily injury or death, out of the penal law. Many juries and many magistrates argue to-day that a man who drives carelessly or occasionally drives dangerously is not a criminal. He does not go out, as the burglar does, with the intention of committing a crime. I wonder whether he could not be treated in some other way; whether or not we could not alter the law in that respect, because I felt that in the Answer given to me by the noble Lord the Minister of State the other day in this House he was rather suggesting that disqualification from holding a licence was not a sentence.
What are we going to do when we have disqualified these people and, quite rightly, taken them off the roads of this country because they cannot behave themselves upon them? What are we going to do as regards police supervision of that factor—bearing in mind that a stipendiary magistrate in the West End of London said in court the other day that the percentage of those driving motor vehicles after their licences had been suspended was very high and that their chances of being apprehended were very small? This is the state into which the road traffic 286 law has got, and it results in over a million cases being brought through the petty sessional courts every year, on top of about 500,000 or 600,000 warnings issued by the police—that is, where no prosecution is brought—with all the office work that they entail.
My Lords, that is my contribution to this debate upon the prevention of crime. I agree with the noble Lord who moved this Motion that we must increase our police forces, and we must provide them with the most scientific and up-to-date equipment. We have got to see that our roads are policed, not only with a view to apprehending those who do wrong but as an example of what good behaviour is when driving on them. That is bound to cost a considerable amount of money, and it is no good talking a lot of theory about it until the police have actually been given the tools to do the job. But I have complete confidence in them that they will eventually do it.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ LORD WILLIS
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, for putting down this Motion, and also for putting it down in fairly wide terms, so that we are not limited strictly to the question of penal reform, of which I do not pretend to know very much. In fact, my only contribution on the question of penal reform, if I may say so, would be that, if we are going to discuss penal reform, we ought to remember two things: first, that it costs £750 a year to keep a man in prison, and that therefore the best policy is to try to find some way of keeping him out of prison, because it is cheaper in many ways; and, secondly, not to allow all these reforms to be studied and carried out (I say this with respect) by lawyers. I feel that far too much of law is bedevilled by lawyers, and that insufficient of the point of view of the ordinary lay-man, the common sense of the ordinary man and the experience of people in other spheres is brought in.
Since I have been in your Lordships' House I have been rather alarmed at the sort of mystique that seems very often to grow up on these legal questions. It used to be a very healthy sign in Shakespearean times and Dickensian times to "take the micky" out of the law and of lawyers—and a very good thing to do it was, too! It was often exaggerated, but 287 it was often done. But now one finds that when a legal question arises—and, of course, it is very often written in abstruse and convoluted language—one hears it said: "This is something we must leave to the legal beagles, and the ordinary man must not come into it." I would urgently suggest that if we are to have any discussions on penal reform, we ought to throw the net as wide as possible. I think the noble Earl, Lord Longford, will agree that very good results came out of the discussion group which led to the publication of this report by bringing in people from a wide sphere.
What I should like to say about the question of putting down crime is, perhaps, a little more serious, a little more to the point. The figures published this morning must alarm and frighten every-body. They are terrifying figures: an increase of just over 9 per cent. in crime in 1963; and the only cold, tiny crumb of comfort in all this is that there has been a slight decrease in the rise shown in the preceding years. Nevertheless, in 1962 and 1963 we had a total increase in the crime rate of 20 per cent. My Lords, are we going to see a 20 per cent. increase in the next two years and a further 20 per cent. increase in the following two years; and is the crime rate going to continue in this particular way? Surely this is something that must cause us concern and must cause a demand for urgent and vital action.
I would say that this is the sort of situation which, unless we take notice of it immediately, can cause a break-down, in many cases, of law and order. It is the kind of situation which requires the sort of action that was taken in 1940, when Beaverbrook was put in charge of a "crash" programme for aircraft, and broke through all the red tape in order to achieve the production of airplanes. I know that it cannot be done in quite that way, but we must get rid of the complacency that we have on this subject, and move into action urgently and desperately. I agreed very much with the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, when he said that we know very little about the actual causes of crime and need an extension of the study of this aspect of the problem. I would support that. I would also agree with him when he says that there are 288 some things that we do know and are fairly sure of, and it is in these areas that we could and should begin to move.
I should like to begin with the area of the family, because, my Lords, in the last 20 to 30 years we have had great gaping holes torn in the traditional defences of society, and many of the old values have gone down. Nobody would deny that to-day the family is not the coherent group that it used to be; no-body would deny that there seems to be a decrease in some respects of voluntary and community spirit; nobody would deny that the economic improvement in people's conditions, and particularly in the condition of the young, has created a completely changed outlook. I do not think it is putting it too high to say that in the last 25 to 30 years there has come about a revolution in the lives of the majority of people in this country comparable to the revolution and change which have overtaken many African tribes who, 50 years ago, were bound together primitively by their own tribal laws and the law of the head of the tribe. This state of affairs was broken up and destroyed by Western civilisation, and very little has been done to replace it. Only painfully are new values being built up in the urban districts. That is, of course, a somewhat exaggerated analogy, but to some extent this is what happens.
The days of the dole, the days of unemployment, are now a long way behind us. A terrific change has taken place, and the necessary adjustment has been tremendously difficult. I do not think we should ignore this fact. We have these great gaping holes in the values of traditional society, and we have a great number of welfare workers and others rushing around trying, in various ways, to stop up the holes. But the higher they build the sandbags, the higher rises the tide; and over it comes. The result is that many of our welfare workers operating in various spheres find that they are not really doing welfare work but are carrying out rescue work, and doing no more than trying desperately to stop up the holes. When their work fails, what happens? We fall back on the last very thin blue line of the police force—underpaid, under-staffed, badly equipped, overworked and over-tired. They are fighting a war on 289 two fronts, against the rising crime wave and criminals, and against the public; and this places them in an impossible position. The public then seizes upon every sin of omission and commission as a stick with which to beat the police.
In a few moments I want to read some letters received from policemen which I think show that there is, in fact, the development of quite a serious change in the attitude of the police, and one of which we have to take serious note. But is it not true that this is not a failure of the police? It is a failure of Parliament, a failure of the public, of the Church, of the Government, and of us all. I say this with the deepest respect, but I cannot help commenting on the fact that we had some nine or ten Bishops here to discuss what vestments were to be worn in church; but on this particular issue, the rising crime wave, which must hit at the very fabric of our life, we have a very small representation.
§ LORD WILLIS
I ask the right reverend Prelate not to be offended by the criticism I am making. It is a fair and honest criticism and it is meant sincerely. I must say that I think many people would feel that too much time was spent on vestments and not enough on other stronger and more vital questions.
The crime figures have risen to this level, and something vital and urgent must be done about it. I think the Government have been tinkering with the problem. We have enacted a splendid Police Act—I do not deny that. But since then, in the past week or so, we have had before us a number of very tiny measures, measures like the "Clip-joints" Bill, and one or two others—which is like trying to sweep the streets of London with a hair brush, when what is needed is a tremendous campaign——
§ LORD WILLIS
No; of course I am not. But there are other important questions. The noble Lord may remember that I raised on occasions the question of the number of tape recorders and other mechanical equipment available to the police. He must be aware that this is an 290 extremely urgent problem. He may disagree; but I think there is far too much laxness in the watch committees and in the Government in seeing that ordinary office equipment is available to the police for their use. These matters are not being considered quickly enough, or with a sufficient sense of urgency. I raised the question of the number of forms and returns that the policeman has to fill in, and in a few moments I will give your Lordships a few comments from policemen themselves. But I do not say this in any particular political sense: for this crime wave is something that must be of tremendous concern to us all. But I would ask the noble Lord who represents the Home Office: Is he sure that he and his Department are not rather complacent about this subject? Is he really certain that enough is being done? Does he, and does the Home Secretary, talk sufficiently to the ordinary policeman on the beat and discuss the various questions that have to be tackled? I should like to come back to this aspect later; but I believe that on both sides there is a need for some fundamental re-thinking in the light of these figures.
I would commend to the House the report of the committee presided over by my noble friend Lord Longford. I would commend it not, as I think he would agree, as a definitive policy document but as providing the beginnings of discussions, and as containing a number of recommendations and proposals that are worthy of discussion. Certainly they cannot be ignored, in the light of this latest Report by the Inspectors of Constabulary. I want to draw attention to only one, among many other, important and constructive measures in the report; that is, the question of the Family Service. This is a proposal that was put forward by the Council for Children's Welfare and the Fisher Group in 1958. It has been developed since then, and has been further developed as an idea and suggestion in this report. I think it is important because it recognises the basic principle that the family is the key unit in society. Therefore, crime, difficulties and delinquency must be dealt with from the point of view of the family and not as isolated limbs of the family unit.
Strangely enough, this elementary idea of thinking is hardly recognised by the welfare services which have, to some 291 extent, grown up haphazardly. I do not deny that they do good work, but their work is often duplicated by various bodies. I think the people in the aftercare departments of the various prisoners' aid societies will tell you that it is easier for them to study and help a released prisoner in the framework of his family life as a whole, than as just an isolated unit, without taking sufficient account of his background and family. We have concentration on needs rather than on people; and this is partly the problem. We have services for expectant mothers, handicapped children, unemployed fathers and delinquent youngsters, but usually they are separate services. Some co-ordination takes place, but not enough. The result is that in the field of juvenile delinquency we deal with the effect but not with the cause. And this is why we have put forward in this document this proposal for a Family Service.
The idea is that this Family Service would take the place of the existing Children's Welfare Service, take over some of the functions of the various other welfare organisations and departments, and try to see the problem from the point of view of the family and to protect and help the family as a whole. Thus a boy who gets into the habit of breaking shop windows is not carted off and examined as an isolated thing. Instead, one finds out what his father and his mother are like, and what his home conditions are like. I am not saying that this is not done now; but it is done by two or three organisations and services, and the information is lost between two or three departments. It would be much better, we feel, if the thing were seen as a whole from the beginning. That is why I believe this is an important and useful measure.
So far as the family courts and the young people's courts that are proposed in the report are concerned, I think they also are well worth discussing. It is true that the document proposes that up to the age of 15, the present school-leaving age, the family courts, replacing the present juvenile courts, should deal only with civil proceedings. But it is proposed that the young people's courts should take over many of the functions of the existing juvenile courts, but 292 should proceed and operate in full association with the Family Service as such. I think my noble friend Lord Longford will have more to say about that, but it seems to me to be a sensible idea to link these two units together.
Side by side with this, I should like to come back (and I make no apology for doing so) to the problem of the transition of young people from school at the secondary modern leaving age of 15 into adult life. This is a problem which we must take note of, in view of the fact that 50 per cent. of the crimes indicated are committed by young people under 21. It is clear that there is some disturbance among young people. I am sure that a great deal of this is due to the fact that at the age of 15 the school unit is broken and no other unit is there to take its place and help the young people. A great deal could be done here.
I should like to urge the Minister to study some of the experiments that have been made in Leicestershire, for I think they are extremely valuable and interesting. For example, they have built an annex to one school in which they have started a club. All children from the age of 13 to 15 who are still attending school can become members of this club in the evenings. But they can continue as members after leaving school, up to the age of 18. The result is that the cricket team and football team in which boys play at school do not break up and separate in a dozen different directions, but continue playing as a team after the boys leave school. This is an interesting experiment, and the head master who is running it believes that he has found the key to one of the doors that might help.
Much more must be done about the Youth Service. We have hammered at this point a dozen times. What is being done can be measured by the fact that something like one penny is spent on the Youth Service for every £1 spent on education. I know that the purse is not bottomless, but it seems to me that the proportion is quite wrong, particularly in view of the figures that we are discussing to-day. I will not repeat all the arguments used in our previous debate, but, again, if the Minister will talk with the director of training at the Atlantic College (I am sorry: it seems 293 that the Minister is going to have a busy time) he will find that he has some stimulating ideas for training youth leaders and for using school facilities which at present lie idle during the holidays, and even for long periods during the school week.
I should like to turn briefly to some of the problems of the police, and to read to your Lordships one or two of the letters that I have received from policemen. I sent a personal note to about 50 friends of mine in various grades of the police and asked them to give their personal views on what steps would be necessary to improve the efficiency of the police and to cut down crime. This is the sort of reply that I received—and I think these letters may be of interest to the Minister and to your Lordships' House. The first writer says:I feel the main reason for the increase in crime is shortage of policemen"—this is a theme we all know, and it is repeated time and time again in these letters—and the lenient forms of punishment by the court.The second letter says:We are not making the best use of the men we have. There is too much paper work, too many odd jobs for the policemen. Every time the television camera pays a visit to a race meeting, a cricket match or a social function, we can see policemen wasting time which is better used on the streets, controlling the horseplay that becomes a fault and the mischief that often becomes larceny. Wastage is a terrifying problem. Too many men are resigning after a few years' service; and who bothers to find out why?The letter goes on:The financing of the police leaves much to be desired. Some forces are better equipped than others, due to different outlook on the part of the watch and standing joint committees. Surely it is time the Exchequer took over the main burden of the day-to-day running of our forces and made a really large research centre. There must be the near-perfect radio alarm, a vastly improved traffic radio, a replacement for fingerprints as a means of identification. And all these are there, just out of reach, for the want of money. A private American company has discovered the voice print. What could science have found for us on a fraction of the money we are prepared to gamble on an aeroplane?The writer of this letter continues:I believe the police force to be as out of date as the oil lamp, useful but hardly 100 per cent. efficient. We are loth to accept new ideas Perhaps this is because our senior 294 ranks linger too long and the lower ranks cannot wait to get out of the force. We still shake hands with all the door-knobs of the shops on our beat—as if this had ever prevented a crime; and we still have to be in a certain place at a certain time. We have no efficiency experts and Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary still give us several months' warning of their visit and still go through the same routine on their arrival. I know of no force with regular meetings for all ranks to discuss problems and ideas, and I know of precious few officers who could be bothered to explain their ideas to those concerned.The writer of a further letter says this:I have fought many bitter battles in the streets of Glasgow with those who, through alcohol or malice, or for pure something-for-nothing profit, had embarked on theft or violence. I would like to think that I have fought those battles not for personal profit or sadistic gratification, but because I believed that I was protecting others less able from persons whose respect for the law was only maintained by the strength of my right arm. I know I would not feel the same to-day. Such has been the venom of the attacks by Press and television upon the police that I am no longer convinced that the public want me to do battle on their behalf. We are given little support by our high-ranking officers, whose policy of appeasement would seem to indicate that they are prepared to sacrifice men simply to prove their own impartiality and public-spiritedness and who, at the same time, are urging their staff to do everything in their power to reduce crime incidence, even to the extent of rebuking officers when they do not think that they are pursuing their calling with sufficient zeal.Another correspondent offers the advice:Take a realistic grasp of the situation, segregate the traffic responsibilities from the existing police force, and let the police operate purely in their original capacity. This will mean further expansion of existing strength. What is wrong with attracting them by offering substantial financial rewards? What is wrong with £1,500 a year for a trained and efficient member of a crime squad?And here is the view of yet another correspondent:There should be a more realistic establishment of police forces. Police forces must be made more attractive by better conditions of service. The greater number of forces are still under-manned. The C.I.D. percentage should be increased. At present, it is only 10 per cent. of the uniformed branch. Far too much time is spent by officers waiting at court. There is far too much paper work done by C.I.D. officers…I think an organisation and methods scheme would make a national survey of C.I.D. work, in order to increase efficiency, a worth-while project.My Lords, I could go on. There are several more letters in the same vein. What I want to draw to the attention of your Lordships is a certain note of pessi- 295 mism underlying many of these letters. This, I must confess, is a note that I have never before seen in letters from my many police correspondents. I believe that we are in great danger of forfeiting the respect and loyal work of many policemen because of unjust or, rather, unbalanced criticism. I have no time for bad or vicious policemen; I do not think anybody else has. The pathetic figure of Challenor is a disgrace to the police and to those who tolerated him for so long, and many honest policemen feel this. But we must continue to see the other side of the penny. We must see that the conditions that can produce mistakes of this sort are conditions which are created by us and not by the police.
The C.I.D., as we have seen, number only about 10 per cent. of the total police force, which means that in London, for example, there are about 2,000 detectives to a population of roughly 10 million. We must understand the pressure this causes. The case load of a C.I.D. officer in London is about treble or quadruple what it should be. With the hours of paper work and the other things they have to do, can we wonder that sometimes they "crack"? They do a 70-hour or 80-hour week, a 12-hour day. Can we wonder that some of them not only "crack" but are tempted to take short cuts in order to cut down the volume of work and bring the necessary results? In a sense, we are responsible for this.
At the risk of boring your Lordships, I should like, finally, to read just one more letter, because I believe that it is important for us to understand this feeling among policemen. This policeman writes:I do not claim to be a good policeman. Mine has not been a career full of excitement, and I have never been commended by a court or chief constable. I can only claim fourteen years' service, in which I have never struck a member of the public, never lied in the witness box, never planted evidence, never persuaded or tricked anyone into making a statement, and have never been considered important enough to bribe.Nor am I acquainted with any policeman who has, to my knowledge, been guilty of these malpractices. But I am only an average constable.On the other hand, I have been poked, pushed and insulted by drunks without ever having arrested one for an offence of simple drunkenness. I have listened to defendants 296 lying on oath without getting hot under the collar. And I have often given a friendly warning where prosecution was the more obvious course to take.I work with men who are by no means perfect, but they are men who can be trusted to do their duty as fairly and as conscientiously as is within their power. They are men who count their successes, not in the number of prosecutions, but in the thanks of any member of the public they are able to help. We are deeply aware of the gulf between the public and ourselves, and regret it more than anyone outside the service can imagine…I work in a small town among the finest public a man could desire; I like them and I hope they find no serious objection to me.… Sooner or later, if the mudslinging continues, I shall find myself asking: 'Is it worthwhile trying to do one's job in the face of such opposition?' And when a policeman asks that question, the end is just around the corner.I think we have to take note of this. Perhaps it is too strong to say that it is a crack in morale. But I think we have to take note of the fact that the criticism and publicity about the police in the last few months have been far too one-sided and unbalanced. And we ought, at least in this debate, to indicate our strong feeling that, by and large, we have a first-rate police force, and many of the sins of omission and commission with which they are charged are our responsibility, because we are the people who have placed them in that position.
Finally, I would suggest that the Government should take a serious and new look at this problem, and, in view of these serious figures, consider some kind of immediate crash programme to recruit new police; to recruit and change the status of "specials" and women police; to bring more civilian recruits into the police force to help the police; and, above all, to provide modern man-saving and labour-saving equipment, and to do this as a matter of urgency, so that in a year's time we can say there is not a police force without modern equipment, and we have brought up and brought in a great number of voluntary people to help in the work of the police force.
It is on this note of voluntary work that I want to close what I have to say. I believe that perhaps we on this side of the House, and noble Lords on the opposite side, have in the past put too much emphasis on taking, so far as the welfare services and so on are concerned; there has been too much emphasis on rights, and perhaps not enough on duties, and this has been reflected in the figures. I 297 think it would be a major social asset, and would help to change people's lives, if we could recruit a massive number of volunteers to help in all sorts of ways: as special constables, both men and women; as auxiliaries who could help men and women leaving prison; and as additional reinforcements for the hard-pressed welfare services. There must be hundreds of thousands of men and women, many of who are over the early stages of bringing up their children, who could be brought into a campaign of this description. I think we are relying far too much on full-time people and not doing enough to mobilise the country. To my mind, this is what is needed in the light of what has been said in this Report to which I have referred. We call for a war against crime. At the moment, we have only a couple of regiments in the front line in the form of the police. I think we must mobilise behind them the whole nation.
§ 5.24 p.m.
My Lords, I am sure we are all grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, for having raised this question and for the interesting way in which he discussed the subject. I hope I do not misinterpret him, but I think he invited an answer to the question: What is the object of crime? I can say in a very few words what the object is. The object of crime is to get something for nothing. I am always trying to do that myself. However, up to date I have not committed any crime in order to achieve my object, as I prefer to stay quietly in my own bedroom rather than share a room with two other people in a compulsory institution.
I do not know whether anybody has spoken on the subject: of capital punishment in this debate. At all events, allow me to say that the existence of capital punishment in this country is a blot on our civilisation and an undiluted disgrace to our system. I have no desire to deal with this matter on a political basis, but in the course of time there may be some political Party in power other than the Conservative Party. I am not saying that this will be a good or a bad thing; everybody is entitled to his political views. But if there is some Party in power other than the Conservative Party, then it will be only a question of time—and a short time at that— 298 before capital punishment is abolished. It ought to have been abolished fifty years ago.
Apart from the desire to abolish capital punishment, let us look at the extraordinary situation that can arise under the existing law. A few years ago, in the Midlands, a young man stabbed a girl fifteen times and killed her. According to the newspapers—I am not suggesting that newspapers are always correct—the trial took one minute. He appeared in the dock, pleaded guilty, was found guilty and sent to prison for life. If that young man had stabbed that girl once and put her out of her earthly misery, and then had taken 2s. 6d. from her purse, I suppose he would have qualified for capital punishment. My Lords, have you ever heard of anything so grotesque in your life? From every point of view, let us abolish this abomination of desolation.
The other point that I wish to mention will, I am sure, make me unpopular, but I am accustomed to this so I need not worry on that account. It feel that twenty years' imprisonment should be the maximum sentence of imprisonment in all cases. Let me explain what I mean. If it so happens that there are a number of consecutive sentences to be served, the grand total in all cases should not exceed twenty years. That is, of course, entirely a matter of opinion, and some of your Lordships may think otherwise.
Now let me deal with a few other matters of considerable importance. First of all, there is the attitude of the law in regard to the cruelty and neglect of children. In my view, the law should be strengthened and the penalty increased. You have a case where the parents are in a very poor financial situation; they may be in a state of bad health, and, indeed, they may require assistance much more than the children whom they are neglecting. This is a typical case where the State and society should step in and help, not only the children, but also the parents. On the other hand, we read in the newspapers of disgraceful cases of parents, for no reason whatsoever, neglecting or ill-treating their children. However, if you fine the parents you make the situation worse in most cases, because they find it more difficult than previously to keep 299 the home going when they have to pay a fine.
I think that in a great number of these cases the parent or parents committing this very unpleasant offence should be sent to prison for a period of months, or even a year. During that time the local authority might have to look after the children. But the short answer is that the parents have behaved in such a way that they ought never to have had any children. I think, although it sounds a hard thing to say, that it is in the interests of the children that the State should look after them until such time as their parents come out of prison, rehabilitate themselves and lead respectable lives.
On the same basis, I think that the law should be strengthened in regard to cruelty to and neglect of animals. Some of the sentences passed are absolutely ridiculous. Somebody ill-treats an animal in a way that I will not mention, and is fined £5. If I were a dictator that person would go to prison for six months, a year or even two years. I think these cases of cruelty to and deliberate neglect of animals are very serious, and I hope that the Government will in due course strengthen the law in this respect.
Last, but not least, I will talk about crimes of young persons. There are many such crimes, and they have increased and are increasing. If a young man breaks and enters a house on 35 occasions, and then subsequently, metaphorically speaking, he is patted on the back, told to be-have himself in future, and is put on probation, what hope is there of cutting down crime? Here, again, you have two different classes of people—I must not call them classes; two different sections of people. You have a young man or a young woman who is in a serious financial situation, has no proper home, has insufficient food and no work. It is not surprising that they should commit crimes whilst their circumstances are so very distressing. That is a case which the State and society should assist in every possible way.
On the other hand, you have a young man who can afford to spend £100 on a motor-cycle, who arms himself with a bottle, smashes windows and kicks people on the ground. It is a marvel to me that 300 some of those people have not died. The young man then proceeds to throw people over bridges. It is said, "Poor fellow, he has no home", or, "He had a bad upbringing." I do not wish to appear hardhearted in any way, but what is the connection between having no home or a poor home and arming yourself with a bottle, smashing windows, and kicking people on the ground, and throwing them over bridges? There is no connection. Therefore, I would submit that the way to treat crime is to deal in a very humane way with all those children whose circumstances are really distressing, and, where circumstances are not distressing, to send them to prison for a period of six or twelve months, or two years; and you will find that in that neighbourhood there will be no more crimes.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I should like to share with other noble Lords who have spoken in the debate in an expression of thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, for having given us an opportunity of debating this important subject to-day. If I may make a criticism of the Home Secretary's Prison Department Report for 1963, and a criticism of the committee presided over by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, the findings of which are signed by the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, it is that far too little has been said (as has been the case in many speeches in your Lordships' House to-day) of the strong public feelings and wishes that persistent and violent crime should be punished by exemplary sentences as a retribution and also as a deterrent.
Indeed, in the Report which the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, signed, there is this sentence:Although society may be justified in demanding a measure of retribution to defeat the criminal, this is a negative approach.There is not even a positive statement that society is entitled to a measure of just retribution—just a conditional "may". That is why I think there is some danger of reforming zeal confusing compassion with misplaced sentiment, and of getting questions of criminology out of proportion to our social life in this country and to other social needs which at present are remaining unfulfilled.
301 The noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, used the words, "The difficulty is to get proportions right." I think a balance must be kept in terms of effort, manpower and money between criminology and its study, and other forms of progress. I do not in any way seek revenge or a harsh punitive system, but I believe that persistent and violent offenders should be harshly dealt with. The noble Earl's Committee does not fake that view. May I divert for a moment to the Report of the noble Earl, Lord Longford? It is, of course, a most interesting document, but do not let it go forward under the label of a general social review of a grave problem. Let it go forward, as it should, as an unabashed Party political pamphlet. I raise that point, because in its Foreword Mr. George Brown, the Deputy-Chairman of the Labour Party, says:Since this is not a subject on which there is great Party political conflict…Yet the whole Report is a blatant Socialist Party doctrine. There is the condemnation of the affluent society; there is the condemnation of the get-rich-quick mentality; there is the usual and expected condemnation of Government inadequacy; and there is the condemnation of a social system in which society is held to blame for much crime, and the statement that if only we considered more nationalisation we might be more likely to reduce crime. I put it no higher than that.
This Report is full of strange contradictions in the way in which it comes to its far-fetched conclusions. Let me cite one which perhaps the noble Earl will be good enough to explain in his reply. On page 13 of his Report he makes the point that those who live in under-privileged conditions are liable to fall into crime due to those miserable circumstances. But then we look at page 5, and find this statement:On the whole, however, criminals do not come from stable and closely-knit working class families, however poor their circumstances.That seems to me something of a contradiction, which I hope the noble Earl——
§ THE EARL OP LONGFORD
Perhaps I may explain it now in case, by the time I reply, the House is not so well filled as it is at the moment. The noble Lord raises an interesting point. 302 It is disputed as to how far really bad social conditions do produce crime. I think people's views on this matter have changed a good deal in recent years. What we are saying is that they are a factor which is certainly liable to increase the risk of crime and that when combined with unstable family conditions, which can be found in any class, crime is more likely. You need the combination of the two. I think that is the short answer.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
I thank the noble Earl for his explanation which, of course, one accepts at once as being part of a Party political document, and not part of an objective non-Party social review. So long as we get that clear, I think our regard for the Report is accepted in the Party political light.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Of course, I do not accept that for a moment. I think that what the noble Lord says on that argument, that it is partisan, could be brought against the opening which is couched in the language of criticism of the other side in political terms. But I would defy the noble Lord to read the greater part of this Report and say that he knew which Party had drafted it—unless he happened to know a great deal about the peno-logical views of the two Parties.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
I do not think we need pursue this. The Report is published by the Labour Party Publications Department, which the Party opposite are quite entitled to have. It is one of their interesting collection of documents explaining a policy which I sincerely hope will never be implemented.
I do not wish revenge, but I must give your Lordships some justification for my statement that I think there is some danger of (I am not afraid to use the word) "softness". I will give your Lordships one example where I think there is softness in those who are attending prisoners in prison—I refer to the prison visitors—and "softness" in the Judiciary. This case concerns a close relative of mine, a member of my family, who engaged someone as a help in her house on the recommendation of a lady, who wrote from her private house saying that this was an admirable person. 303 It turned out afterwards that the lady who had written was a prison visitor who knew this particular woman and said nothing at all to my relative about her history. When, finally, she had committed various crimes, Detective Constable "So-and-so" said that this particular lady—and this was after she had pledged my relative's credit at various shops—had eleven previous convictions. In 1950 she had been sent to corrective training for four years; in 1953 she had been sentenced to four years' imprisonment; and in April, 1956, she had been sent to preventive detention for nine years for obtaining goods by false pretences. She came out from that prison in March, 1963, when the prison visitor mentioned her as a splendid lady and recommended her to my relative.
When the presiding justice passed sentence, he told her:You have been to prison for long spells and here you are back again once more. It seems to me that you have made up your mind that crime is your idea of life, because when you last came out of prison, everything was done to get you a nice job and then you again start this business. I should send you back to preventive detention in order to protect the public, but I will spare you this and pass a sentence of three years.I suggest to your Lordships that the case I have given you justifies my statement that zeal can overrun discretion when it is not kept in reasonable control.
Of course, we want enlightened progress in criminology, but I find it difficult again to swallow the dictum on page 52 of Lord Longford's report, Crime—A Challenge to Us All, when he says:It is in our prisons as they are that men become recidivists.That is an opinion entirely unsupported by fact. Neither do I believe the statement in chapter 1, page 4, that society must take the blame for those who do not keep its rules. There is a section of society which is formed of hardened criminals, impelled by avarice and ruthless desire for someone else's money and possessions, to get them at less effort to themselves than the efforts of others of the community who earn their rewards by hard work. Psychology and buns will not cure these men.
My other reason for troubling your Lordships for a few moments is to suggest to you that we consider the great effort 304 and expenditure which is at present going on in the prison services, and whether the taxpayer has not done and is not now doing his bit. I see that the total spent on prisons and borstals has risen from 1921, when it was £1,337,000, to over £21 million this year. In 1962 we were spending £4¼ million on prison buildings. Incidentally, on page 48, the noble Earl says that they are entirely the wrong design. For 30,000 prisoners we have some 11,000 staff, which is approximately one staff to every three prisoners. No wonder that a new entrant to the new prison at Ashwell receives a welcome that none of your Lordships going to Eton would ever have received on your first day at that school!
Let me read from page 16, paragraph 24, of the Home Office Report, Prisons and Borstals, 1963, what happens:The afternoon of arrival, following normal reception procedure and medical inspection, the men are seen as a group by the governor. At this talk the idea is explained and no information given about general routine matters. The men are then shown round the prison by another prisoner, and I consider this important as it gives the men a chance to talk to another prisoner,… Nothing further is done on the first day other than to allocate the man to his dormitory and this is done by the deputy governor"—can your Lordships see the senior master at Eton taking a boy around?—or the chief officer, who take this chance to see the man on his own and check record details. The next day the men are seen as a group by the P.E.I. who explains what is available in the way of physical training and recreational facilities. The welfare officer then informs the men as a group what his particular job is. The induction procedure ends by the principal officer in charge of the man's House seeing him in private and going into all the minor details. By then the man will also have thought up the things he wants to know.I think really we are going almost too far, particularly as the final results, as described in the next paragraph, so far do not seem to be very rewarding.
Lord Longford's proposals—and after all, they are very much the background of this debate—for prison care and aftercare would create a great new bureaucracy; and before those proposals are advanced I think it is just as well to look at what they entail. I will illustrate what would be entailed. We start off with a new Minister of State at the Home Office, who must, of course, have a staff. Then we have proposals for a regional Home Office organisation, and 305 staff. There are to be regional after-care committees, and staff; there is to be a parole board, and staff; a new Director of Probation, and staff, as head of a new service; a Family Service looking after new reception and observation homes; Family Advice Centres and staff; and Family Service Committees with chief officers and staff. There are also to be two new Institutes of Criminology, and staffs, one probably in Scotland; and a new Director of Criminology at the Home Office. There is not a word in this Report as to the cost of all that, and I think it is reasonable to expect the noble Earl, Lord Longford, when he speaks to give us some broad estimate, in terms of men and money, of what he thinks the whole of this bureaucratic machine would cost. I finish on that point by saying: let us keep a balance between what is practical in cost and what is desirable in itself.
My Lords, on the youth side I would say only this. I see some danger in the report of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, of diminished family responsibility and of the State replacing the parent in the way of authority and in the execution of parental duty. Home discipline and the old adage of "Spare the rod and spoil the child" are still things to cherish and not to ignore or deride entirely. There are those who will respond to rehabilitation and there are those who will not and against whom the public is entitled to protection. I hope that the passionate zeal of reform advocates will not be such that they destroy the chances of their own efforts succeeding, for the pace of reform cannot far outstrip public acceptance of policy, effort and cost.
§ 5.49 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
My Lords, I hope that my noble and learned friends and your Lordships will forgive the apparent discourtesy of my leaving before the end of the debate, but many weeks ago I promised to open a teenagers' club in a caravan at Eltham. I can only hope that the result of this work will mean that most of my noble and learned friends will be less occupied than they might otherwise be in the weeks to come, and that the police may have somewhat less exacting duties.
I have two prisons in my Diocese, Brixton and Wandsworth, and from time 306 to time I visit them, either to hold services or to meet the men informally. A few months back I spent a fascinating evening with a group of them called Recidivists Anonymous. Their experiences and sentences had, of course, varied, but most had been in prison a long time. Thanks to the initiative and imagination of a few prison officers, coupled with the willing co-operation of the men themselves, a worthwhile seminar had been established. I suppose there were about 25 present on this occasion. I was impressed by the cultural range of the programme, the readiness to learn more of the arts and sciences, and also by the literary quality of their magazine. On this occasion, however, there was no lecture. I asked them to talk to me about themselves, their families, their futures, their hopes, and to suggest things that perhaps the Church and society might do to help them.
I was left with these impressions. First, some, possibly the majority, had found their way into prison because society had failed them or because their families had failed them. I am not a sentimentalist, nor do I believe we should minimise personal responsibility for misbehaviour. Evil and selfishness are factors that have to be taken into consideration by us all, and with which all of us have to contend. If we do not face the facts the end may be disaster, and for this disaster we are inevitably to some extent culpable—to some extent: those are the relevant words—probably not altogether, because so much depends upon the society and the family in which we are reared. I am well aware that in prison, Brixton and Wandsworth, are men who have had every chance in life: happy family back-ground, economic security, sensible education. But these men are the exception. By and large, as came out in our discussions and was frankly admitted by these men, good ground produces good fruit and poor ground produces poor fruit. Broken homes, bad housing, inadequate education and inadequate welfare services, the lack of recreational facilities, coupled with the shabby ideals of a society that too often has its priorities wrong, invite men to wrongdoing.
Long before the birth of Christ, Pericles, in his famous speech, told how the 307 men of Athens obeyed the law, and then Pericles went on to tell how the social values of Athens encouraged them to obey the law. That is the point. This is what he said:We keep strictly within the control of law, we acknowledge the restraint of reverence: we are obedient to whomsoever is in authority, and to the laws, more especially to those which offer protection to the oppressed and those unwritten ordinances whose transgressions bring admitted shame. Here as elsewhere Athens sets an example which is deserving of admiration. Wealth to us is not mere material for vainglory, but an opportunity for achievement: and poverty we think it no disgrace to acknowledge but a real degradation to make no effort to overcome.My contention is this. Men do not become criminals overnight. Men are a product of the society in which they live. Social climate goes a long way towards determining character. As I go about my diocese in south London, as in a few minutes, on my way to Eltham, I go via Elephant and Castle, the Old Kent Road, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross, Greenwich and Deptford, I witness the overcrowding, the shortage of houses. Only last Sunday when I was at church my church warden told me that in the street in which he lived there was not a single bathroom; he himself has four children sleeping in one room. With these sort of conditions, this lack of facilities, not merely in the homes but also in the schools, I am not surprised at the size of the prison population. There seems to be surprise it is so large. I am surprised it is not larger. If we are in earnest in our expressed desire to reduce crime, we need a drastic reappraisal of our social priorities and of the uses to which we put our national resources. That was my first impression.
My second impression from that meeting was the need to attach a greater importance to the home as the basis for a constructive approach to the community. Extravagant and unfair criticisms are often made of parents. My experience as a parish priest for nineteen years in the East End of a large city, part of which was a foul slum, convinced me that most mothers and fathers are saddened by the failures of their children and are eager to co-operate with school teachers, probation 308 officers and clergy. But, of course, not all of them. To suggest that the names of parents who sit lightly to their responsibilites should be disclosed in court cases, or that they should have to pay for the wilful damage done by their children, is a debatable point. But there can be no doubt of one thing: we should emphasise the family unit in our economy, and our social legislation should give priority to it, because it is the family unit which has to be the natural training ground for useful citizenship. This demands of the Government a considered policy, rather than an ad hoc approach, for developing character and curing personality twists.
At the same time—and it may not always be popular to say this—I think we have to rid ourselves of the superstition that discipline is a dirty word. Of course the flagellating ladies who scream at their annual conference for the birch need to be taken seriously by nobody except Vicky and the cartoonists, but there is something to be said for the reconsideration of the purposes and methods of discipline. When I speak of discipline I am thinking of that obedience which leads to self-restraint, and also that discipline which ultimately leads a man to accept responsibility as a citizen. The home is the place where this constructive discipline begins, but it must be fostered by the school. And I should like to think the day may come when all young people will be encouraged to accept a period of national service—not, except in times of emergency, for military duties, but for imaginative ventures within the British Commonwealth and elsewhere. This is already being done on a modest scale. I should like it to become a normal feature in our national life.
But what of those who do not respond, the delinquents, the hooligans, the misfits? Of course, there must be sympathy and compassion for such people, but there must also be sensible discipline. As one who has had much to do with young people, I know that weakness is something they despise—and that came out in my discussion with the recidivists the other month. I will give your Lordships an example of a weakness which I do not think is helpful. I read this only yesterday in one of my church papers from Bermondsey: 309Several Youth Clubs in the Bermondsey area have been suffering an increase in trouble caused by roaming gangs of youths. One such gang invaded Magdalen Hall some weeks ago and the Club leaders were threatened by a lad carrying a broken bottle when they attempted to restore order. The police had to be called. Later that same evening a member of the Youth Club had to have four stitches in his head after being set upon by the trouble makers.The leader of the gang who threatened us with the broken bottle and who was involved in the later incident was charged. His headmaster and several club leaders all hoped that something positive would be done when the case came up. A doctor, a priest and two of the lads from the Club all took the trouble to involve themselves and appeared at the juvenile court at Greenwich.Little did we know what we were in for. The court was over-run with cases. Nobody could give, or would give, a firm assurance that the case would be heard that day. We waited from 1.50 p.m. until 6.15 p.m. only to be told that the case would be heard the following week. One could well understand why people refuse to get involved; it takes too much time. One hates to slam those who put in so much time voluntarily, but it is true that juvenile courts are not run very efficiently.The following week the case was heard. The police presented their evidence, which included the admission of the boy that he had attacked someone with a bottle but in self-defence. In court he admitted that he had threatened with the jagged end of a bottle but that he did so because he was frightened. We all in turn gave evidence, not in anger, but because we felt that here was a boy who needed a firm hand now before something worse occurred. The headmaster had written a report to bear us up; the case seemed absolutely clear cut.The court retired for a few minutes. The two women magistrates returned and said this to the lad, 'Case dismissed as not proved. You, my lad, have been very rude and very naughty'.That was written by one of my most faithful priests in the Southwark Diocese, a man with considerable wisdom and understanding. This sort of thing happens too often, and it really does not help those of us who are seeking to help the young.
My third impression from that meeting with the recidivists was the need to reconsider the question: What is the purpose in sending men to prison? It is not sufficient to say that a person must pay for his faults, though obviously punishment is a factor. As has already been mentioned here to-day, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor William Temple, said this: 310From the specifically Christian point of view, vengeance is entirely illegitimate, and therefore ought not to pass to society and ought to be completely suppressed. Christianity calls for such sort of repudiation as does not hinder but rather facilitates its supreme interest of effecting a moral restoration.If this is our standpoint, then prison is not primarily a place where a man receives his due, but a school where he is trained to be a responsible citizen. I appreciate the difficulties that result from overcrowded, antiquated buildings, and from shortage of staff. I appreciate, too, the efforts that are being made in many quarters, especially among governors and prison officers, to treat prisoners as persons and to prepare them for their release. But we do need a major change in our social attitudes before we have a penal system that does dignity to the human spirit.
Fourth—this is my final impression—is the need to help men back into the world from which they have been separated. Inside prison there is a security of a sort, and men become used to their conditions in time, just as they become used to one another. Of course they look forward to their freedom. But what impressed me so much that night—I had not grasped this before—was a real fear of the unknown. Will they be welcome at home? Will they get a job? Will they be accepted by their friends?
The men with whom I spoke were clear on two points. First, during the last year or six months in prison greater opportunities should be given for allowing them to work en parole. Useful employment should be our aim for every prisoner throughout his detention, rather than frittering away his time in idleness. I recognise that for the greater part of his time he must do this inside the prison. But, surely, those who have proved themselves should be allowed to work outside under sensible supervision for the final period. The second thing they said was that during this final period, and, if a man wants it, for some time afterwards—indeed, some of them suggested for at least a year—there should be hostels, preferably small, where men could live together as members of a family, and encourage one another. There have been useful pilot schemes, but not much more.
311 Those of your Lordships who I know are active in dealing with patients in mental hospitals would agree with me, I am sure, that one of the baffling problems in dealing with them is in regard to their return to life outside. They come out of a mental hospital and suddenly find themselves in a world where they are expected to be completely normal. It is just the same with many a prisoner. The change is too drastic. They just cannot keep up. They need homes where they can meet people with similar experiences so, as I say, that they can encourage one another as they make their gradual return to normal life. It is the same for the boy who has been to borstal. Society must help him to find his way back to a life which has become strange and remote. Not only should we do this, but if we do not, he will all too easily renew his old and bad association.
My Lords, I have confined my attention to those problems which have been brought to my notice as a result of my personal dealings with recidivists in Brixton and other prisons in my diocese. I have avoided divorcing the prisoner from the society in which he is placed because it is my hope that wisdom, coupled with respect for persons as persons, will encourage men of all Parties on both sides of this House to temper justice with mercy for the reclaiming of the fallen, and for their integration usefully in the general life of our community.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRENTFORD
My Lords, I should like to add my word of appreciation to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, for the introduction of this Motion this afternoon, and also for the most excellent tone which he set in the admirable speech which he made to us—a tone which, I think, if I may say so without presumption, has been admirably followed throughout this debate, which has been of a very high standard. My own intervention will be quite brief. I have no professional experience to offer to your Lordships because, although I am a practising solicitor, I do not professionally practice in crime. I hope that, so far, I have not been caught out practising in crime in any way, and therefore I have no experience on that side of the fence either. 312 I am interested in the problem, I suppose one would say, primarily from a social point of view, but perhaps from a political point of view as well.
What has struck me most in the debate is that many constructive suggestions have been put forward as to the way in which something can be done to meet the challenge of this great problem; there is no concept of opinion about it at all, and there seemed to me to be little certainty in the minds of noble Lords that the solution they were suggesting was necessarily the right one. I believe that this stems largely from the point which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, emphasised so much at the outset, that we are exceedingly ignorant of the facts relating to this problem, and that we have not the necessary data and material to guide us as to the causes of crime, and, therefore, to guide us as to the solutions for dealing with criminal intent.
It has been suggested that one of the principle causes, if not the actual cause, which would influence our leaning to crime is bad homes, broken homes, poor homes, bad housing and matters of that sort. But I wonder whether the homes of to-day are so appreciably worse than the homes of 40 years ago. In those days there were far fewer homes, much more overcrowding even than to-day, and the homes were of a much lower standard. Yet the amount of crime, and particularly juvenile crime, was much less. It rather occurs to me to wonder whether we are necessarily on the right tack in assuming that those particular subjects are playing such a big influence in the production of the young criminal of to-day.
Certainly, the problem to-day, when we have reached nearly one million indictable offences during the year, and when the total number has increased by nearly 10 per cent. over last year, is one of such seriousness that it is difficult to think of any step which could be taken and which we should not be justified in taking. Certainly when we realise that 50 per cent. of those crimes were committed by people under 21, and that there are an enormous number of un-reported crimes to add to that total, one wonders how many crimes altogether are committed in this country by people under 21 and how many young criminals there are in the country at present.
313 There has been some discussion about the question of the deterrence of punishment. I agree that there must inevitably be an element of deterrence in the severity of punishment; but certainly it does not always work that way. The point we have now reached is that the proportion of crimes detected against those which are committed is so comparatively low that I do not think the potential criminal ever expects that he is going to be caught, and consequently the prospect of punishment does not occur to him; and certainly it does not deter him.
For my own part I have an exceedingly high regard for our police. I served with them for a considerable number of years in a voluntary capacity, for a good many months of the war, and I have a high opinion of them. I share the doubts which were expressed by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Leicester as to the fairness with which the Press and the B.B.C., particularly latterly, have been reporting matters affecting the police. It seems to me that when any question is raised about police actions—about their honesty, or anything of that sort—the Press and the B.B.C. immediately seize upon it and "blow it up" from the outset so as to make it an apparent scandal. They never really give the police fair play or a fair chance to state their own case.
I hope most sincerely that a more responsible attitude will be adopted towards the police by broadcasting and television elements. What is happening now is playing a serious part in undermining the public's confidence in the police, and this attitude is becoming itself reciprocal, so that there is a danger that the police will lose their confidence in the public. As many of your Lordships will know, my father was Home Secretary for some time. I was closely associated with him in that period, and we got to know the police very well. They are an exceedingly proud body of men, most jealous of their good name and tradition. I am perfectly certain that if they are left alone they will deal fairly with any problems that arise in the force, and will deal with them in a way which will best serve the public interest.
There is no doubt that there is a need for a greater number of police, although this problem could be looked 314 at in a slightly different way. It might be possible to consider relieving the police force of some of the multifarious duties which they now have to carry out. We have heard a number of suggestions to-day, but the one that most appeals to me, for I believe it to be the most practical (though I know that Her Majesty's Inspector-General is not in accord with my view about this) is the idea that we should enrol an entirely new and independent force of traffic-wardens or controllers—I do not want to call them "police"—to be responsible for the enforcement of the traffic laws. Some scheme such as that, which would not involve the enrolment of men of such high physical standard as is required in the police force proper, could, I am sure, be worked in harmony and in unison with the police themselves; and it would relieve the police of a tremendous amount of their duties. I know many of the alleged objections to this proposal and I will not delay your Lordships by going into them. I am quite sure that all the objections can be overcome, and that this would be a practical way of offering a considerable advantage to the police forces of our country.
There is one other point I should like to make. I was slightly surprised to hear the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, come down on the side of the "beat" policeman. I wonder whether we are not attaching too great an importance to the value of the policeman on the beat, and to his being seen to be on the beat. I agree that in the old days, before the war, one could always expect to run into a policeman around the corner, and that was a salutary thing. Nowadays, however, the criminal is practically never on his feet around the corner, waiting to be run into—unless he is there purely in order to spy out the land, to see what is going on in the street, with a view to carrying out a smash-and-grab raid at a later date. But on those occasions the police cannot spot him because they do not know him. All they do is to emphasise the fact that at, say, 4.30 in the afternoon the policeman is on that particular corner; the criminal knows that fact, and will carry out his smash-and-grab at some other time.
I believe that it would be worth looking at this matter afresh from the 315 point of view of the fact that the criminal almost invariably uses a motor car. It is generally not his own motor car of course, but it is a car in which he travels swiftly and violently. The least we can do is to try to create a machine whereby he can be caught by men in motor cars. The right reverend Prelate had a novel suggestion of being able to press a button and let down barriers across the road. That might lead to certain difficulties which one can envisage, but any new thinking and fresh ideas on these subjects will, I believe, be of the utmost value. I hope that it may yet be possible to consider whether a much more mobile and flexible force, guided and controlled by radio, is not more likely to be the answer to the problem than the policeman on his beat.
My Lords, there is one further thing I would say. Whether the policeman remains on his beat or whether he takes to motor cars in a much greater way than he does at the moment, I am quite certain that success will never be achieved until he receives a very much higher and more spontaneous degree of co-operation from the general public than he has at the present time. I believe that we have got to back up our police very much more strongly and more actively than in fact we do at the present time. I am quite sure that they will respond to any help that we give them by showing the highest degree of courage and bravery of which they are capable.
I should like to say a word or two as regards offenders when they are caught. At the present time the first offenders are generally caught when they are fairly young, and I believe that the best way of treating them in those circumstances is to give them a short, sharp lesson. I believe that a financial lesson is nowadays the best method of teaching them that crime does not pay. I believe that they should be subjected to a fine which really will hurt them in their pocket, and will very likely bring in their family as well.
I share to a considerable extent the views expressed by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark, and also by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, that the basis on which 316 the young criminal can best be tackled is through the family. But one has to get at the family first, and a great many of the proposals of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, do not, to my mind, produce the best way of getting at the family. I believe that we can get at the family through their pocket and make them feel, "Dash it! I have had to pay out £15 for little Willie's eruption. I am jolly well going to see that he does not erupt again." They will then come into line and exercise that degree of discipline which is necessary and desirable in the home, and put little Willie's nose down to the grindstone and see that he works until he has paid back the money.
My Lords, I believe that a great deal of this criminal uprising in the young is due initially to a combination of the rather sudden rise to comparative affluence, and the rather sudden rise to a comparative amount of leisure. I believe that, if we have made a mistake, it is in increasing the standard of living of our people more rapidly than the rate at which they have been able to become educated to the responsibilities of that increased standard of living and increased income. Likewise, I feel that we may well be at fault through a failure to educate our young people, particularly in the best ways of utilising their leisure time.
If these young people do come before the courts a second time, then I think they should be treated to a period of reform, education and rehabilitation. I believe that would be the time best calculated to influence them, rather than at an earlier or later stage. If, notwithstanding that, the system fails, and they come back again for a third time, then, my Lords, I believe that they will have to be subjected to punishment, both for their own sake and also for the protection of society. During the second stage, the educational stage, I think there is a great deal to be said for an extension of the probation system. In that I am a very strong believer indeed. Although there may well be occasions when, as we have heard this afternoon, it does not work out properly, by and large I think that it is a very good thing and plays a very useful part.
May I just add one word about the question of the Family Service, about 317 which we have heard a certain amount this afternoon?—a project which I have studied in the book, Crime—A Challenge To Us All. I cannot go with the authors of the book in their recommendation on this point. As the noble Lord, Lord Bal-four of Inchrye, indicated, I feel that it would inevitably set up the most tremendous bureaucracy. It would also be extremely difficult to administer. I think it is completely impracticable; and even if it were not impracticable, and if it did meet with any degree of success, I doubt very much whether the success would be worth the invasion into the privacy of the family, which such a scheme would necessarily carry with it. On those grounds alone I do not think I can go with the authors in that particular recommendation.
In conclusion, I would say that I am quite sure that importance of the incidence of crime as we have it in this country at the present time cannot be overrated. I believe that it stems primarily from the adolescents. It is they who, to some degree or other, will eventually grow into the "old lags". I believe that a great deal of the trouble is due to the sudden uprising of the affluent society with leisure. The corollary to this is that their leisure times must be occupied, so that there is a far greater and wider need for an increase in young people's clubs and similar organisations. May I congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his exercise this evening, in opening up yet another one? I believe that it is by interesting the young, by keeping them busy, that we shall succeed in keeping them out of mischief and, thereby, out of crime.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I find myself much more in agreement than usual with the noble Viscount who has just resumed his seat. In fact, I think I agree with something like 90 per cent. of what he said, which is a very unusual position for me to be in. I am not sure that I agree with him about the policeman on the beat, although I found what he said very interesting. During our discussions in your Lordships' House, we have over the last years frequently had quoted to us the views of outstanding chief constables, both in this country and in Scotland, as to the great value of the beat system. My own feeling is 318 rather that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, is right about this. But I suppose the beat system could be modified and if the policemen, or some of them, did the beat on scooters or motor-bicycles that might be a great help. Of course the point of their not being at the same point every day at exactly the same time has very frequently been made, and I think it is usually looked after by the officers.
I am much more in agreement with what the noble Viscount said about the image which the Press has been creating of the police force over these last years. I am very glad that this has been referred to, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, who unfortunately is not here, who is so very much in touch with the police, and who has done so much himself with that admirable picture of P.C. Dixon of Dock Green, to give the other side of this medal.
This is a really difficult subject because, obviously, when the police are seriously at fault, that ought to be made known and it is not safe to cover it up. I myself felt a little in conflict with the noble Lord, Lord Willis, although I quite agree that one cannot trust these things altogether to lawyers. God forbid! As lawyers we usually feel that in our efforts at reform we do not get enough help from outside. But, after all, it is very important that, in dealing with criminals, innocent men should not be convicted and imprisoned. The rules as to evidence, which often seem so absurd to laymen, have been laid down by experienced, broad-minded Judges over many years for the very purpose of protecting the innocent against the possible misuse of power by police and other authority. Therefore, one has somehow or other to arrive at a via media in respect of these matters.
To return to my notes for a moment, I should like to add my tribute to what has been said to the noble and learned Lord for introducing this Motion. A few years ago we used to have regular debates on these problems which were participated in by a small group of rather regular debaters who even came to be called "the crime club". I am not sure that the disappearance of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, into another and, I expect, more remunerative sphere of activity has not been partly the reason why the "crime club" has fallen into a certain desuetude; 319 but, in so far as it remains, I should like to welcome the noble and learned Lord into it. His speech this afternoon obviously entitles him to graduate into its highest ranks. Indeed, one might liken him to a phoenix who has emerged full-fledged for the purpose.
Of course, as has everybody else who has touched on the point, I welcome what he said about the importance of research and the need for more than one criminological institute. You really cannot handle these matters unless you have at any rate most of the facts accurately and scientifically acertained. On the other hand, I am not too optimistic—and here I think the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, made the point—that this will necessarily lead to our being able to tackle the problem of crime at any rate completely effectively. In the United States, where the crime rate is very much higher than it is here, and where it has been increasing at the same sort of rate, for many years now there has been a tremendous amount of criminological investigation. I think more work on these lines has been done there than in all the rest of the world put together, but it has not had any appreciable effect on checking the increase in crime.
At this stage I should like to pay a tribute to what has already been done over the last twenty or thirty years in the way of building up criminological research in this country. I was very interested in what the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark said about his visit to Wandsworth. I had the very interesting and, indeed, happy experience of meeting the same group (or perhaps it was their predecessors) a year or more ago. That was a very encouraging experience; and I might add that these men, at any rate at that time, were allowed to go out of the prison to meet their wives and families, I think on one day a week, in a hall which had been hired for the occasion. In that way, they were in touch with their families and were, so to speak, more prepared for returning to ordinary civil life. I think that was very valuable.
What brought this to my mind in connection with research was that this system of group discussion and therapy was really got going in Wandsworth very largely by a Dr. Hauser, who is a Viennese sociologist living in London; 320 and that is rather typical of what has been going on. The Director of the Institute at Cambridge is a Dr. Radzinowicz, who came to us from Poland. This criminological work was started at Oxford by a Dr. Grünhut, who was one of that brilliant group of German lawyers and academic men who were presented to us by Hitler; and in London the work was started by Dr. Herman Mannheim, who was another of Hitler's presentations to us. I think we ought to be very grateful for what these eminent foreign scholars have done to make criminology a scientific discipline in this country over these last years.
I wish that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Conesford, were here, because I should have liked to tell him that his views about retribution are not those of most scientific criminologists: nor does it really help to buttress them by the authority of the late Archbishop of Canterbury, who, eminent though he was as a theologian, and great a personality as he was—and all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him would agree and endorse that—was not in fact a very great authority on these particular problems. The fact that he endorsed retribution really does not add more weight to it than any other educated man who is interested in a general way in this sort of matter might do by saying he accepted retribution as a penal principle. I should think, from my own knowledge, that four criminologists out of five in fact reject it. I should have liked to debate this matter with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Conesford, but he is not here, and I think it would take up too much time.
One thing that struck me during the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth—a speech which he delivers in other kinds of debates as well as in this one—was in relation to what he was saying about speeding by inconsiderate young men and the use of dangerous motor vehicles upon the roads. I think that, when the Bill was before us, we might have considered whether it was not a good idea, as part of the punishment, to confiscate their vehicles; not only to suspend the owner's licence but, particularly in the case of the dangerous vehicles, just to take them away and destroy them so that there would 321 not be any further possibility of their being used in this very dangerous way. Because I quite agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, that this type of offence is just as socially dangerous as the more old-fashioned type of crime which attracts so much public obloquy.
My Lords, I have taken part, as I have already indicated, in most of these earlier discussions, and I have now reached the point where I find it rather difficult not to repeat some of the things that I have said on earlier occasions. It is quite true, as the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, said, that it was a long time ago, and there is probably hardly anybody here who heard me make them. I therefore decided to devote most of my remarks this evening to the question of juvenile delinquency, which has come into the discussion a good deal and to which I think we cannot really give too much attention.
I think the almost obsessive attention which has in fact in recent years been paid to this is a measure of its very great importance, and of the basic position which it occupies in the whole problem of crime. I think this has been very well brought out in, for instance, the recent White Paper, which has been referred to so often this afternoon, where the importance of knowledge, and of knowledge particularly in relation to juvenile delinquency, is very much stressed. It was also interesting, I think, to notice that in the terms of reference to the Royal Commission which the Government set up very recently they were in effect instructed to give priority of attention to this particular matter.
If there were no other reason for this current emphasis on juvenile delinquency, the stark fact that the majority—indeed, I think the great majority—of adult criminals, as the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, I think, mentioned, graduate, so to speak, from the ranks of the juvenile delinquents would furnish an overwhelming practical reason why we should particularly concern ourselves with this problem. So much attention has been given to it that a whole series of useful debates could be staged round this particular subject. This evening I can deal with only one or two particular aspects of the matter. First, I would underwrite 322 the widely-held view among students of juvenile crime that the first principle is to keep these young people out of prison altogether, if possible, but certainly as long as possible.
I found myself in agreement with what the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Leicester said about getting rid entirely of the prison system as we have known it. The noble Lord, Lord Willis, is not now here. He directed a shaft of criticism at the Episcopal Benches. I do not say I disagree altogether with that, but, if one may say so, the contributions of the two representatives of the Episcopacy on the Benches this afternoon have very well made up in quality for the absence of a larger number. I particularly liked that part of the right reverend Prelate's speech in which he dealt with the prisons. I think this applies to a considerable extent in connection with young people, to institutions like approved schools or borstals, where I daresay I shall not carry a great deal of agreement with me. I have visited many of these and I have always been immensely impressed with the enthusiasm and sincerity of the staff and, on the whole, the admirable arrangements which exist there.
Nevertheless, from my experience as a chairman of quarter sessions and as a magistrate, I cannot overlook the fact that very large numbers of these boys come to us again as older criminals. I have not very much doubt that a handful of bad boys in a place like a borstal, however good the staff may be and however admirable the arrangements, have a corrupting effect, I would not say throughout the establishment but through a wide area of it. This has been borne upon me from time to time since I became an administrator of the criminal law. While it is not possible to do away with these institutions altogether, I feel the more we rely on the probation system, the more we keep these boys out of the institutions, the more we keep them at home, the more we keep them circulating in the community in close touch with the probation officer, the more likely we are to achieve success. From my own experience of the work of the probation service, that has been undoubtedly so. In my own county, our success rate is well over 90 per cent. This is probably higher than in the more industrialised districts, but 323 it shows what can be done by good probation arrangements, and it is better than sending these boys to approved schools and borstals.
I would carry this to the extent that it has been more and more the practice in recent years, even where the infraction of a probation order is concerned, to make another order and so give the probation officer the further chance of doing his job successfully, as well as giving the probationer another chance. I recognise that there is a danger of treating a breach of probation order too lightly. The difficulty is to find a method of punishing these breaches of probation orders without having recourse to institutional treatment, but I must say that in my own experience nine out of ten cases in which we have renewed probation instead of sending the boy to an approved school have been successful. We usually do it after hearing the probation officer, and taking into account his views of the possibilities of the situation.
The probation officer is very well equipped to judge whether the fact that the boy has made a backslide means that he is not going to succeed in the future. Indeed, I can remember one boy who became an outstanding non-commissioned officer in the Territorial Army, but who very nearly was sent to borstal, because within a few weeks of a probation order being made he committed an offence which was a breach of that order. So, from this point of view, it is a very valuable thing to deal with each case on its merits, rather than adopt the old-fashioned attitude, which was that a breach of a probation order meant sending the probationer to prison or to borstal as the case may be.
My Lords, I posed the question: what is the solution when there has been a breach of a probation order? A great deal could be done, but if we could widen the probation system by attaching conditions to a renewed probation order going beyond those which are now practicable—conditions, for example, as to useful work which would be looked after by the probation officer and would take up the boy's holidays, or a large part of his holidays, which is something he values very much, and make him appreciate the penalties resulting from his wrongdoing—much might be effected. I had the 324 great pleasure and really fine experience last Saturday of going to the opening by the Queen Mother of the reconstructed Warwick-Stratford Canal, which she did in her usual gracious and charming way. It was a wonderful experience, because a great deal of the work of digging out this canal, which was completely derelict two or three years ago, had been done by prisoners from the open camp in the neighbourhood, and a group of these men were there and were presented to Her Majesty. This was really a very inspiring occasion, from many points of view. It seems to me that this is the sort of work which could be done by lads who had broken their probation, instead of their being sent to borstal and approved schools. This could be done by bringing it within the probation system and enabling the probation officer to superintend it.
This might call for an extension of the probation system by bringing in volunteers. I have never myself been able to see why the probation system, which is overworked and understaffed, should not, and could not, as I am sure it could, be reinforced by volunteers, by men of the kind who have done valuable work as prison visitors and who work in youth clubs and places like that. Obviously, if boys are to be ordered to do this sort of work at week-ends, somebody must look after them while they are doing it, and here would be an opportunity for a system of this kind. I have not the time to develop that aspect more, although I think it would undoubtedly deserve further consideration and further investigation.
What I should like to do next for a few minutes, and I think this will have to be the last point I make, is to discuss the system which has been used over the last 14 or 15 years, and which originated in Liverpool, of not only keeping boys out of institutions but even keeping them from being convicted in courts and handed over formally to the probation officer to be looked after. I mean the system under which when crimes are committed the offenders are not brought before the courts of law at all but the police exercise the discretion they have not to prosecute, but call the boy up, admonish him and tell him that if he does not behave himself there is still the time for him to be brought before a court. and 325 he will be. I understand that these interviews normally take place with parents present, and the inspector or superintendent, or whoever conducts them, makes it pretty clear to the parents that they have to co-operate In this, otherwise they will find their boy before the court.
There are many criminologists who take the view that the point at which a lad comes before the court, is convicted and the conviction entered against him, is a crucial point in the history of a criminal, and that if it can be avoided it is all to the good. Obviously there is a point here, but I doubt very much whether this was the reason why the Chief Constable of Liverpool developed his scheme. It is much more likely to be due to the point brought out by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark, that many policemen get "fed to the teeth" with the sort of sentences that are passed in juvenile courts and believe that it is no good bringing these boys before such courts because no disciplinary action is likely to be taken against them. Time after time I have come across that view in the police force. It may well be that this is the reason why this type of disciplinary procedure—because that is what it essentially is—has been worked out in Liverpool. It has been so successful there that it has been followed by many other police forces, often with valuable variations which I should have liked to discuss, were there time, but cannot do so in the circumstances.
I am sure that many of your Lordships know about the Liverpool scheme, as it is sometimes called. It involves the exercise of a discretion, a very powerful discretion, which, if a mistake were made, might lead to great criticism in the families of the lads in question. Obviously there is a strong point here which has been made against it, but on the whole it seems to me that this is a very valuable innovation. It is essentially preventive in its incidence, and one of the most interesting things about it is that, though it was started in Liverpool for the purpose of dealing with cases where actual offences had been committed, I believe that it has now been extended so widely that in about half the cases the lads are not accused of offences at all but are brought there because their behaviour is unruly, or 326 because they have played truant or because they are in other ways reaching the frontier, over which, if they step, they will have committed a crime.
The fact that the police are able in this way to deal with these lads in this fatherly, almost family, way is a great feather in their cap. If this sort of work could be got over to the people of this country, instead of some of the unpleasantness which the Press seem to concentrate on, in the way my noble friend Lord Willis and others have emphasised, it would be doing a much better job. The value of this Liverpool scheme is that it is attempting a new method, which, as the right reverend Prelate emphasised, is what we need. We are in a fluid situation now. We have been relying too much on the outlook of Victorian times which has been carried over into the present world. This is just one way—and a typically English way—to handle a situation by empirical means which is showing a good deal of success. I am not saying that this is a solution to the whole of this problem: obviously it is not. But it does point a way in which success has been achieved to some extent, and I think it is very important that it should be followed up on that basis.
This, of course, has some bearing on the problem raised by the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, whether we should take this sort of juvenile offender out of the jurisdiction of the courts altogether and establish some other sort of system for dealing with him. I find myself rather betwixt and between in regard to this problem, because it is a very difficult one. It is interesting to see what has happened in the Scandinavian countries which to a considerable extent have been leaders in criminological advance over the last generation. In Sweden, particularly, they have a Child Welfare Board (as I think it is called) which has considerable powers over the way in which children in this situation should be dealt with. It is rather like the sort of machinery envisaged by some of my noble friends, and is well worth looking at and following up. If we are to handle this crime problem successfully, we must be ready to experiment in many different ways, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, emphasised in his speech. I have just 327 tried to indicate one or two ways in which I think progress can be made.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ EARL COWLEY
My Lords, first I should like to apologise for my absence at the beginning of this debate. I was engaged elsewhere. This may mean that I shall repeat points that have already been made, and I hope that I shall be forgiven if I do so. I would join with other noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, for initiating this debate and I am only sorry I was not present to hear his speech. Of course, it is difficult, with so many speakers, not to make the same point again and again. Perhaps that is not a harmful thing, because the more people who make a point, the more likely it is that someone is going to take notice.
I read with great interest—I cannot say with great admiration—the Labour Party booklet entitled Crime—A Challenge to Us All. I think that the booklet's main point was that every criminal was a patient to be cured. It advocated more open prisons, better food and more facilities. The only suggestion it did not make was that the whole system should be run by Sir Billy Butlin. I think that the question that one must ask oneself is: Does making prison a nicer place to live in reduce crime? Personally, I do not think so. Originally, prisons were not places of punishment. They were places to await punishment. The judge sentenced a man to be punished, to be hanged, or hanged, drawn and quartered, or tortured or to spend two or three hours a day on the treadmill, and prison was used as a place in which to incarcerate him while these punishments were awaited. Now it is suggested, and perhaps truly, that prison is in fact a punishment in itself.
Could one possibly envisage the ideas in the Labour Party pamphlet and do prison reform in reverse? Could we make prison so horrible that nobody would ever want to go there—in fact, use the prison system as a deterrent? I should like to suggest a three-point plan: that we should retain that booklet for the first offenders; that first offenders should be given every single chance. They should go to open prisons, where they would be fed well; psychiatrists would find out what was wrong with 328 them; they would be taught a trade, if they did not have one; and when they were released, they would not just be thrown out of the door to fend for themselves, but would be subjected to after-prison care. In making this point, I would refer to a book that was written some time before the war by Mr. Leo Page. He said, at page 94:From the point of view of re-conviction the most hopeful prisoners are, as we would naturally expect, those committed to prison for the first time. Since 1930 a record has been kept of the subsequent history of all men received into prison on first conviction for all save trivial offences.From these tables it appears that of 30,151 prisoners received into prison for the first time during the years 1930–33, 24,326 or 80.7 per cent. had not, so far as is known, returned to prison a second time up to the end of 1935. As might be expected, the percentage is higher in the case of those without previous proved offences before committal to prison—of 18,990 such persons 16,212 or 85.4 per cent. did not return to prison—while of 11,161 persons with previous proved offences the number who did not return to prison was 8,114 or 72.7 per cent. A second term of imprisonment materially increases the prospect of re-conviction, and with every successive conviction the chances of a future free from crime become substantially less.Once this first offender has been given every chance, I think that on the second offence, unless there are exceptional circumstances—and it would then be for the Judge to decide—he should have punitive imprisonment. By that I mean sharp discipline; everthing done at the double, rather as I imagine imprisonment in Army glasshouses is. Then when he comes out—and it need not be a long term—the very thought of going back to that horrible place will turn him against crime for ever.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am trying to apply my mind to some of the noble Earl's thoughts. He is aware, of course, that when hanging was a penalty attached to a great number of crimes it did not diminish the amount of those crimes, but in fact appeared to increase it.
§ EARL COWLEY
I take the point the noble Earl has made. Of course, there is this point he will remember: once a person has been hanged, the likelihood of his committing another crime is extremely remote. I have now dealt with second offenders. But persistent offenders, the people who go on committing crimes time after time, should be 329 treated as incurable patients. They should be kept comfortably away from society, in a comfortable prison. But they should not be allowed to return to harm society again.
§ EARL COWLEY
For a very long time. Of course, the answer to this might be that this has all been done already; that this is exactly the penal system that we have in this country: that we have imprisonment for first offenders, penal servitude for second offenders, and preventive detention for persistent offenders. But if noble Lords have read books by ex-prisoners—and I have read many—they will know that the repeated complaint of the first offender is that he does not go to a first offenders' prison, because there is no room: he is kept for six months mixing with persistent offenders, with people who are properly called criminal types.
If this system is going to work, it must be a clear-cut system. You must have these prisons set aside to serve a specific purpose. By this system one would have tried everything. Kindness, I think, can go too far. If you think of a young robber who attacks a young woman carrying a salary or even her own purse, hitting her over the head with a truncheon or some such instrument, so that the young woman might for the rest of her life suffer from epileptic fits—that young man probably gets a short prison sentence, but the woman is sentenced for the rest of her life. It is a case of where the guilty go free and the innocent suffer.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, we are listening with interest to what the noble Earl is saying, but am I to take it that he would recommend similar treatment for motorists who have been found guilty of driving under the influence of drink and in a dangerous manner on a second and third occasion?
§ EARL COWLEY
In everything I have said I have taken criminal law as a whole, and that is part and parcel of it. The motorist who commits a crime is just as guilty as the man who commits a robbery.
I should like to emphasise the importance of prison after-care, especially for first offenders, because when a person 330 comes out of prison he is lost and needs a lot of help. I was greatly dismayed when I saw in the newspaper the other day that the Government were not going to make a grant to a particular branch of the after-care service.
We really have no evidence that punishment is not a deterrent. One noble Lord has already said: "Spare the rod and spoil the child". As opposed to that we have the modern science of behaviourism, by which you let your child do exactly what he wants in the hope that he will grow up to be a responsible citizen. The noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, made the point—and I will make it again—in relation to the police force that traffic should be controlled by a separate force. Women could be employed, or young people, and this would leave the whole of the police force to fight this war against crime.
The noble Lord, Lord Meston, referred to capital punishment, and perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Longford, will be pleased to hear me say that I think the sooner we abolish capital punishment the better. I think it is a stain on this country, and it has never proved to be a deterrent.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am very glad indeed to echo the strong condemnation of capital punishment which fell from the noble Earl, Lord Cowley, just now. I am sure that if other speakers from our side have not turned to this question it is because almost everybody, perhaps everybody, on our side, and so many throughout the country, take it for granted that capital punishment will be abolished one way or the other during the period of a Labour Government.
I hope the noble Lord the Minister will forgive me if I do not attempt to cover the whole field and if I, so to speak, fill in gaps which have been left by previous speakers. That does not mean that I do not attach great importance to the increase in crime and the strengthening of the police about which the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, spoke with such deep feeling, or to the family service, explained by the noble Lord, Lord Willis, and many of the other matters mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley. But perhaps the noble Lord, 331 Lord Derwent, will take our speeches together and not accuse me of ignoring matters which have been covered by them.
I should like to say one thing about the increase in crime. It is a point not often made in this connection, but it should perhaps be made in connection with our young people. I suppose we are all disappointed that there has been such a heavy increase in crime, among both the young and the old, and perhaps particularly among the young, in the last few years. At the same time, there has been an equally unexpected increase in the numbers of children who stay at school after the compulsory leaving age. If we take our young people together, I think that, weighing it all up, the increase in the numbers staying on at school when they need not do so far outweighs, not only numerically but in terms of national morale, the relatively small numbers who are convicted of crimes. But that must not weaken our determination to find ways and means of stopping crime.
There is one point I should like to make about the family. The noble Earl, Lord Cowley, has left us, but perhaps he may return. I was anxious to lay this in front of him. So far I seem only to have agreed with him, and if I say nothing more about him it would seem that I agreed with everything he said, which is far from the case. I see the noble Earl has returned. This is, I think, the only quotation of any length that I am going to inflict on the House, but I should like to read a letter which was handed to me by a prisoner in Wandsworth. He is a man who has been convicted a number of times, though not until the other day for about six years. He did not show me this letter with a view to my using it, but he gave me permission. I think it bears a little on the family question, to which so many speakers have attached the utmost importance, and also on the psychology of those who have been convicted more than once which, if I may say so to the noble Earl, Lord Cowley, he does not fully understand as yet.
This is the letter that this prisoner, a recidivist, received after going into prison from his son, who, I take it, was 332 in his late teens or possibly just grownup:Dad, I am going to ask you to give up the things that have put you where you are. You may think I have no right to ask you that, but I think you owe it to me and Mum, and I think you will want to give it up, as you are not getting any younger. It will not be as hard as before when you have come home to a lot of debts, with about 40s. from the N.A.B. This time it will be different, as I am determined to see that there is some money to make a start with. I mean every word of it, Dad. I give Mum a bit more each week, but not a lot, and when Christmas comes I will give her a little more to get everything she wants and put a little way, and not leave myself skint.That is an attitude which I think illustrates—and I hope the right reverend Prelate and his other episcopal colleague who inspired us at an earlier stage of the debate will agree—the strength of the family tie. It may be the father who is trying to redeem the son, or the son as in this case setting out to redeem the father. Our policy—and I could not agree with anything the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchyre, said about weakening the sense of family responsibility—would be to help those who needed family help, and that is the inspiration behind the whole family service.
When this particular father was arrested, it must have been deeply humiliating for all concerned. His son visited the police station, and when he was not allowed to see his father he sent a message in that he wanted to thank the father for keeping him and all the younger members of the family straight. It is that spirit, both in the family and the recidivist, that we have to build on, if we care about penal reform. Therefore I disagree totally with the outlook of the noble Earl, Lord Cowley, on these matters.
Our Report has been buffeted a little, and that is naturally in the way of things. I hope this is not a patronising comment, but I am rather glad that the Conservative spokesmen to-day have been, if I may use the expression, rather more characteristic Conservatives, while very distinguished, than some who have taken part in these debates in past years. I have been involved in so many debates here when everyone agreed in demanding that the Government go much faster. I may have been a little discourteous to the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, and 333 if so I apologise, because it is not quite fair to attribute this view to him, if possibly he holds it. But certainly the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and the noble Earl, Lord Cowley, gave us the impression that the Conservative Government during the last few years have gone much too far to make our prisons lenient and soft.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, read out a passage from a report about Ashwell and compared it with Eton. He argued that at Eton the young people would not get such a good reception as at Ashwell.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
I said that you must not draw a general conclusion from a particular instance. The Government have done a great deal, but in that instance I think they are going too far.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I could not see the point of the quotation unless the noble Lord was; using it to illustrate a dangerous trend. It is 40 years since I left Eton, and in those days the housemaster used to come round every night and more or less tuck us in. I do not think they have gone as far as that at Ashwell, and I suspect that Eton is softer than it was 40 years ago. However one takes it, I do not think that illustration helped the noble Lord's argument. At any rate, we have seen what might be called the real Conservatives giving their ideas to-day, and I hope I may be allowed to take them as representative.
This was called a Party document, and various things were said about it. I can only quote something which was written by a certain Quoodle who, although I realise he is no longer in the Cabinet, was Chairman of the Conservative Party until quite lately unless one is misinformed, and he wrote recently in the Spectator. There is no secret that it was Mr. Macleod. Commenting on our Report when it came out about a month ago, he said, among other things:It could as plausibly have been produced by some sections of the Conservative Party".I will discuss that question a little later. 334 I realise that it could not have been produced by the sections who have so far given tongue to-day, but I have no doubt that Mr. Quoodle himself would have felt quite in sympathy with it. However, I must not take up time on Party debating, because I have a certain amount to say.
In our Report we put forward 66 recommendations and, of course, some of those are obviously much more far-reaching than others, and we attach much more importance to some than to others. At this hour I could not set out to expound them, and in one way or the other the House knows already almost every means of discovering them. What perhaps to me was remarkable was that, in a Committee of varying backgrounds, if I may say so with great deference to noble Lords who have criticised the document as a political affair, I suppose about half the Committee were acknowledged experts in their field. I would say they were quite as strong a team of experts as a Royal Commission is likely to collect. Whatever may be thought about the politicians who stand to be shot at and to shoot back, one cannot brush aside this measure of agreement when you confine your interests to the signatures of the experts.
I may be asked why it was possible in a comparatively short time to reach so much agreement among individuals who have expressed their personal views on these matters, in speech and in writing, in some cases for many years. I pose the question whether it is because we in the Labour Party share a conviction that every human being in this world is of infinite value; and, in so far as we attempt to be religious, we say of infinite value in the sight of God. That idea, if it is to be genuine at all, we apply alike to delinquents, troublesome children, neglectful parents, or victims of crimes. We apply it to everybody.
My Lords, I ask the question whether it is that guiding inspiration of our Party which enabled us to reach agreed conclusions so easily. I think it is partly so; but, of course, that kind of approach, which has not perhaps been expressed by all noble Lords from the other side to-day, is not the monopoly of the Labour Party. It is widely shared by those who give their working lives to helping delinquents and children in difficulties, and no one who has been a Member of this House for a number of years is unaware 335 that there have been eminent Conservatives who were as passionately dedicated to penal reform as anybody else. But if history—including, if I may say so, the history of the last few hours—is to guide us, it is quite inconceivable that any Conservative group (perhaps I should say any "representative" Conservative group; I do not know what the Bow Group would do) drawing up a plan similar to ours would have produced proposals that went as far and as fast as ours, even where the directions are agreed; and there are some directions which are not agreed.
Let me illustrate that and show the difficulties provided by the common use of language when the intentions judged by results have not been similar. We demand in our booklet an immediate and rapid expansion of the hostel scheme. Various people mean various things by "hostels". Some of us, for example, will be thinking of Norman House, the aftercare hostel started by that great servant of the distressed, Mervyn Turner. There are various forms of hostels. But I am talking now of prison hostels, from which prisoners go out to work and return to prison in the evening, having earned a full wage during the day. This system is seen as a hope for the future which could be a halfway stage between prison life and full freedom for a very large number of prisoners; and I think that has been in the minds of other speakers, including the right reverend Prelate.
We may be told that this is nothing new, that there have been hostels since 1953 when the scheme was first started in connection with preventive detainees. That is no doubt true, and it was expanded to other long-serving prisoners, I think, in 1958. I do not know whether noble Lords would have any idea how many prisoners to-day, after eleven years, are working on the hostel scheme. In fact there are only 200 places to-day in the hostel scheme, and they are not altogether filled, although there is a tremendous demand among prisoners who are likely to be continually disappointed if, when they have been accepted, room is not found for them.
If noble Lords say: "Ah! well—the hostel scheme; there is nothing new in that; we all know about hostels"; I can only say that we do not mean the 336 same thing as the Government appear to mean when they talk about a hostel scheme. We mean a change there which would affect the whole face of prisons and a very high proportion of the prisoners. Again, there has been no more significant event in the penal field since the war than the Memorandum which was sent to the Home Office last year from the prison officers. It is great joy to us who like to call ourselves penal reformers that, whereas in the old days we felt that the prison officers were against us, to-day we are all working in the same broad direction.
The evidence of the prison officers was profoundly interesting. The Memorandum can easily be obtained by Members of your Lordships' House; but, to put it very briefly, they claimed a chance for prison officers to become, for the first time, much closer to social workers than custodians; and we lay great stress on this in our Report and on many other ideas which they advanced. The Government tell us that a Working Party is looking into the proposals. No doubt that is true. But why did the Government have to wait until 1963 before setting up a Working Party to look into these proposals? As long ago as 1955, from this side of the House, we were arguing that prison officers ought to be given the chance to become social workers; yet it is not until now that it seems likely to become a possible reality.
I cannot forget that the so-called "Norwich" system was highly commended as long ago as 1956—eight years ago—in these debates by another Home Office Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft (I almost called him "the late Lord Mancroft") commended the Norwich system in 1956. Under that plan, individual officers were to be responsible for the welfare and reform of small groups of prisoners. Some of these ideas seem to have lapsed. It is very hard to find out how far the scheme has been developed, but certainly it has not been developed very far.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I have made official inquiries. I do not think it is very easy, because there are a number of ideas grouped under this 337 heading of the "Norwich" system. But if the noble Lord wants me to be blunt about it, I think that it has not been developed very far. I am afraid that is my information.
§ LORD DERWENT
I am sorry to press this point, but the noble Earl said that he could not find out if it has been developed. What is the difficulty? Has he asked us?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
The answer to that is, "Yes". And if the noble Lord wants it again, I will say "Yes" again.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Yes, and if the noble Lord inquires of his assistants, he will find confirmation of my answer. I hope that he will be able to answer this point: it will be quite interesting. In fact, the scheme has not been developed very far, and in my opinion that is a great accusation against the Government. To take the large prisons, the noble Lord will not tell us that we have the "Norwich" system in Wandsworth or Wormwood Scrubs or Pentonville. They are having interesting talks in Pentonville. They are going to try something called the "Pentonville" system. I am all for that. But it is eight years after the "Norwich" system was so highly commended in these debates. But we hope that the "Pentonville" system will emerge a little more rapidly.
My Lords, let us take work. I will not go into details on that at this time. I would say that the Report of the Advisory Committee on Working in Prisons was an excellent document, but why has it taken so long to produce even a Report of that kind? I myself suggested in this House the setting up of an Advisory Council which would include employers and employed; but the actual expression used about that (I looked it up in an old debate) was that the Government did not exclude the possibility if the situation warranted it. It is that kind of language, if I may say so, that kind of idiotic procrastination, that is the cause of one of our main complaints. And even before that, before the noble Lord became involved in these affairs, we have often 338 in these past debates tried to demand some initiative which would bring in employers and employed. We were told in the old days that it is better to do these things locally; that there may be certain difficulties on the national level, and so on. The Economist, which does not like some of the phraseology, but says that otherwise our Report is "progressive and helpful", says thatideas on penal reform are becoming common currency among all the political Parties. The real test now is the will to put the reforms into operation ".To that I would say that we have been testing that will, in debates in this House and elsewhere, for over ten years, and we have never found that that will lead to important results.
Let us look at the three-shift system. We are told by the Government now that if only the three-shift system could be introduced it would make a lot of difference to the amount which could be done. I certainly agree that more work is being done in prisons, though a lot of it is very trivial work, and I think that in a great prison like Wandsworth, the men are still working only about twenty hours a week. At any rate, there have been some improvements. We are told if the three-shift system could be introduced that would help work immensely, and I dare say it would. But the noble Lord may be aware that the three-shift system was in force in all our prisons before the war in this country, and now it is not in force in any local prison at all. So one is bound to ask the noble Lord how rapid progress is likely to be. If you go back a little you will find that in 1952, in debates in this House, even before our main series started, the Government said they hoped to introduce the three-shift system in all the local prisons within two or three years; that was nearly twelve years ago. So one must, I am afraid, take with a great pinch of salt the fine professions of the Government on penal reform.
What of after-care. Well, there again we have had some bold statements in the past. It was in 1959 that we were told by a Minister here, "The effective development of after-care is regarded by the Government as a matter of primary importance". That was five and a half years ago. I do not know whether they can step up that language 339 at all now; I do not know how much higher than primary importance anything can be. But over five years ago we were told that after-care was a matter of primary importance. I myself was chairman of an all-Party Committee that drew up a Report, completed in 1960, which suggested there should for the first time be a comprehensive system of after-care with voluntary supplements and additions. I suppose we ought to be thankful that in 1963 the Government reached the same conclusion, and they accepted that report in principle. I challenge the noble Lord, with the greatest respect I defy him, to tell us there has been any important physical change in the aftercare arrangements since the report of that Committee was accepted in principle in 1963. And if the noble Lord asks me if I have put that question to anybody, the answer is, Yes. I am afraid I must assure the noble Lord that, in my opinion, it is impossible to say there has been any important change.
Take the point of view of the ex-prisoner. We are all in favour of aftercare in theory. The shortage of after-care is just as deplorable as ever. I suppose there are about fifty approved school after-care officers in this country, and perhaps another fifty fulltime after-care officers of one kind or another. I have not forgotten Lord Balfour of Inchrye's suggestion, that we are in danger of building Up some colossal bureaucracy. The numbers are very small at present and they could hardly be immense whatever was done. At the present time there are just over 2,000 probation officers, and one could say that about one-tenth of their time is taken up on after-care, something more than the equivalent of 200 probation officers. I do not want to suggest, because it would not be quite fair, that after-care provision through probation officers is no more than the existence of 200 people, because they are scattered over the country and it is therefore a better result. Nevertheless, I would say that is a pitiable amount of manpower devoted to this absolutely crucial sector of the work. I am afraid I must offer my opinion, at any rate, to the noble Lord opposite that, while the recruitment of probation officers and other social workers proceeds with so little central 340 direction—and that is a point quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye—and so mysteriously from the point of view of potential recruits, one cannot expect any rapid change.
If we take the position of some of our young people, no group in the country needs help more than those who go to detention centres. People say a short, sharp treatment is good for them, and it may be for some of them; but if when they come out there is nobody at all to look after them, and they go back to whence they came, the result is likely to be fleeting. The Criminal Justice Act of 1961 laid down compulsory after-care for young people leaving detention centres. In fact, compulsory after-care was not introduced until April this year so far as its application to young people is concerned, some two and a half years after the Act was passed, and even now very little can be done, or will be done, while the probation service is so hopelessly over-worked. I am afraid I must insist that there is a great gulf between the announcements of the Government, their professions of devotion to after-care and penal reform and all these other good causes, and what has actually happened and is happening.
I am sorry to say all this in the presence of the right reverend Prelate, because I know he hoped politicians could proceed without criticising one another, and in a better world that might happen; but, after twelve years of the rule of one Party, this question of whether our Party, if returned to power, could achieve more than noble Lords opposite is an all-important one if one is interested in the prisoners and the young people.
Before I close I must express myself quite clearly. I do not want to attack individuals. I am sure that in every great man a lot of inspiration and a lot of perspiration is necessary. And I should have thought that Mr. Butler had the inspiration and Mr. Brooke had the perspiration, and between them they might have made a complete Home Secretary. Mr. Butler had fine ideas which were never abandoned, but I should think he rather lost interest, and Mr. Brooke has not yet seen the full vision, though he is working immensely hard. I am not attacking individuals. I think things probably would have been worse under 341 any other two Ministers. I am assaulting the whole attitude of those responsible for our penal affairs in recent years, and it is difficult to do this without reflecting on a great Department, the Home Office, from which I have received a great deal of kindness, and therefore I must be careful to criticise the political chiefs who must bear full responsibility; but I am afraid that in some respects they infected their subordinates.
I am indicting the sluggishness and timidity which have at every stage retarded imaginative ideas, and there have been quite a lot of imaginative ideas—the hostel scheme is one—very many ideas, some rather brilliant. Far too often these ideas have been put into operation in small, nervous doses, and years passed, as in the case of the hostels scheme, while results have been subject to incomplete analysis. I have often asked myself in the last ten years why this is so. I am not blaming individuals, political and official. I have often wondered what has nullified so much of the hard work and the serious purpose, and I am afraid T must find the explanation in a kind of schizophrenia, of which we have not heard a great deal to-day, because we have heard only the voices of the Right-wing Conservatives, but we may hear some inkling of it before the debate ends.
There has been a real desire among Ministers and officials concerned to modernise our prison service, to bring it more into accord with the values of our age, but only on condition that nothing is done to affront the susceptibilities of that considerable part of the Conservative public whose views have been voiced with so much sincerity this afternoon. It would be unfair to use Lenin's old phrase "One step forward, two steps backward". That would be going too far, because there has been progress. I have never felt at any time in the last ten years when we have been debating these matters—in large debates for nine years—that in the Government as a whole there was any real confidence that penal reform (that is, better treatment for the individual delinquent) was compatible with public security; and much less have the Government believed, and much less do they believe, and certainly the noble Lord's colleagues this afternoon do not believe, that rapid pro- 342 gress in penal reform, fairly well understood, as the Spectator and the Economist show, would actually promote increased security.
Our own proposals, though they were, in a sense, hastily drafted, flowed from the work and studies of many years. They spring not only from a concern for every human being, but also from a faith in the possibilities of every human being—to take only one example, the possibilities of the recidivist whose son's letter I quoted at the beginning. I am not going to be so absurd as to stand on every detail of the proposals, but they stand as part of a single whole. How often in the past has it seemed to many serious people of goodwill, quite apart from politics, that there has been a painful choice as to what is best for the protection of society and what is kindest, most enlightened, most Christian in the way of helping the prisoner! I am not going to argue that that conflict will ever be totally resolved in this life. It may be in some circumstances, but it may raise its head again.
In case I spoke too sharply earlier, I am most touched by the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, saw fit to study my little book and to quote it here. But in our Labour Party Group we have come to the conclusion that the path of human sympathy for the lawbreaker, who may in fact be, and often is, punished, is also the path of security for the law abider. We offer solutions which in our view are not just more humane but are also more constructive than anything now in evidence. In some cases what we are proposing, such as in the case of the family service and the family courts, and our determination to make sure that no child is stigmatised as a criminal before reaching the compulsory school-leaving age, can be described as new. Though they did not originate with us in the last few months they can be described as novel in their proposed application to this country.
In the case of many other proposals it could be argued that something of the same sort is either being done or is likely to be done. We are told by some people that our proposals would not make much difference; by others that they would produce a revolution in our penal treatment. If I must choose, I think the latter is nearer the truth, if 343 all these proposals were carried out methodically, without any sensational development, in the lifetime of a single Labour Government, as they can be.
My final word is this. Anyone who has met many prisoners will feel convinced that few of them, perhaps hardly any of them, need have gone wrong, or need have continued on the path of evil, if they had received sufficient moral support at critical times. Perhaps that support was missed in the family in the first place, or perhaps in the approved school or borstal, or when they left those institutions, or in prison or afterwards. But one feels it in one's bones, if one works at all among prisoners, that while these men must be blamed for moral failure, not everyone who does wrong is a sick person and must be treated as though he has broken his leg. Equally, society must share the blame, in that we have not rendered that help which, as a community or as individuals, we could have rendered; and we are not rendering it yet.
I know a young man of good character who has found himself in prison in the last week. This is especially poignant. But prisoners to-day no longer find prisons to be places of cruelty. Something may go wrong occasionally; but prisons are not like that to-day. But prisoners find prison life as futile as ever. The best of them feel it more intensely than others. Therefore it is as demoralising as ever. As regards exprisoners, well, it is not so true as it was, but it is still all too true that many of them creep about, metaphorically, in the back alleys of life, trying to disguise their records.
Heaven knows!, we do not claim to be infallible; of course not. But if I am asked whether the kind of reforms that our group is proposing are doing more for the good of the prisoner, or for the good of society, or for the good of ourselves, I do not know how to answer. I do not think an answer is possible in those terms. I do not think the line can be drawn so clearly. If I may quote from the Scriptures in the presence of the right reverend Prelate, our Lord saidIt is not those who are well who need the physician, but those who are sick. I come not to call the just, but the sinners, to repentance.344 It would be safe to assume that he was aiming at every one of us.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, will forgive me if, before I speak to the debate, I say that I am sorry it has not been possible to make a statement on preventive detention before to-day's debate. It is, as I have explained to the House before, because a lot of people have had to be consulted and a lot of details have had to be worked out to see what would happen if it was retained, what should be put in its place, and exactly how it would work. All I can do to-day is to repeat my right honourable friend's statement, that the intentions of the Government will be made known quite clearly before the Recess.
May I, too, thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, for moving this Motion; and may I say that I agreed with quite a lot, although not all, of the things he said. To me, the most interesting part of his remarks was that which related to the need for more research and knowledge, and his statement that really emotions and sentiment should not come into the matter much, if at all; that it should be knowledge that we should be seeking, and not, I think he implied, theories. I quite see, therefore, why he was a little diffident of supporting this pamphlet and this Report, because his own speech was in detail concerned with firm ideas. With the greatest respect to the noble Earl, Lord Longford, a number of the ideas in this pamphlet are extremely vague. I shall have something more to say about research in the course of my remarks. I do not think I need say anything particularly about deterrents, as such. I think that my noble friend Lord Conesford explained quite well the various considerations that determine a prison sentence.
As I am not going to speak much about it later in my remarks, I should like to say a little about Lord Gardiner's remarks about the police. I think that possibly he was less than fair both to the Home Office and to the police. I commend the speech of my noble friend Lord Brentford on this matter. He has great personal knowledge of the police, having been a member of the force. The 345 question of establishment was raised. I am not sure whether it was the noble and learned Lord or the noble Lord, Lord Willis, who said that the police forces were under establishment. That is not strictly accurate. Some, of course, such as the Metropolitan Police, are very much so, particularly in some of the bigger cities; but at any given moment many of the other police forces are up to strength, or only just under establishment, according to whether the establishment has recently been increased. This is the usual practice. When a force reaches its existing establishment, and it can make out a case for increasing the size of the force, a new establishment is authorised, so that for a short time the strength will again be under establishment. The bulk of the police forces of this country are more or less up to strength. My own part of Yorkshire, the North Riding, is right up to strength, and no doubt they will be asking for an increased establishment later.
The noble and learned Lord might have mentioned the mobility of the criminal, for this is important when dealing with police matters. My noble friend Lord Brentford brought this out clearly. The noble Lord did not mention the effect of certain Home Office measures and our recent Police Act. He did not mention such things as regional crime squads; he did not mention the Police Research and Planning Branch, which is of vital importance if we are to know how the police should be organised in future. He did not mention the increased chances of promotion due to the courses at various training colleges, and in particular the Police College, which give the young policeman a chance of getting accelerated promotion. He mentioned modernisation of equipment rather as if it did not exist, but I spend a lot of my time moving around the police forces, and I can assure the House—this is partly a question of finance, because we have such things as local watch committees—that they are being modernised as regards both outside equipment and inside equipment. It will take some time, and unfortunately the same type of equipment is not needed by all police forces. They may each want their own, so that it is quite a problem. In his remarks about the police generally, the noble 346 and learned Lord would have given a fairer picture of what is happening if he had taken some of these factors into account. I do not want to say any more than that.
EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, if I may intervene for one moment, I am not criticising anything the noble Lord has said—my noble friend Lord Gardiner can do that—but I noticed that no reference has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, to the great factor that struck me in Lord Gardiner's speech in relation to the police: that though some of them are up to strength, many others are well under strength in relation to the vast percentage increase in crime. That is why so much has to be done.
§ LORD DERWENT
I appreciate the noble Earl's point, but he will realise that there is now beginning, as a result of the Police Act, a complete reorganisation of police forces which will make the available manpower much more effective. That will take time, but there are to be amalgamations of police forces, which is a most important point. That has already started in the case of certain forces. As one gets larger forces, policing will become more effective and efficient, and it will be easier to deploy existing manpower.
I very much regret the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Willis. I do not accept the picture he gives of the attitude of the police generally. I do not know whether we see as many policemen as the noble Lord does, but we probably see them in greater numbers in some parts of the country. I see them not only officially but privately; and if I really felt that the attitude which the noble Lord ascribes to the police—what one might call "fed to the teeth" generally—was a fact, I should have thought it would be a hopeless task to try to recruit. Although there are difficulties of recruitment in certain places, in others there are not. I do not accept that the police are necessarily "fed up" and do not like their job. I have found the contrary, and I just do not accept that.
§ LORD DERWENT
May I finish what I am saying? I also regret that for the 347 second or third time in your Lordships' House the noble Lord has talked about a great rift, or words to that effect, between police and public. I am well aware that the police have been criticised, and I regret that although the Press are right to criticise the police when things go wrong they seldom praise the police when things go right. But I do not believe there is a great rift between the police and public. I find in general, excluding certain areas, that the public still like their police and still trust their police. If this continued talk about the rift between police and public goes on, the public will eventually begin to believe that there is a rift.
§ LORD WILLIS
I wanted to correct the noble Lord on one point. I am sorry to have offended him, because over these exchanges I have developed a great affection for him and would not hurt his feelings for the world. What I said was that the letters I had received and the contacts I had showed a worsening—I made it no more than that—which we had to see as a danger. My whole point was that we should bring more support behind the police. If the noble Lord was referring to an earlier speech I made in this House about the rift between police and public, if he likes to look up the text he will read quite clearly there that I said it had been exaggerated.
§ LORD DERWENT
I realise that the noble Lord, Lord Willis, is a journalist, and one does not know how these letters arose and what questions were put. The comments in those particular letters are things which any organisation, if it were asked what improvements it could suggest, would say. What I regret is that the noble Lord put forward these perfectly legitimate comments without giving the House any idea as to how in practice these ideas could be brought about. He left us with the idea that they were just grouses, which I do not think they were. I still think that it is an unfortunate attitude to take.
I am afraid, whether the noble Earl likes it or not, that I must give the major part of my speech to this pamphlet. The noble Earl has quoted from it, but whatever he may say, it is largely a political pamphlet, though I am not saying it has not got ideas about penal reform and prevention of crime. It is through- 348 out, from beginning to end, a criticism of the Home Office and the Government, and I therefore must confine myself, unless I wish to speak all night, to the pamphlet, to what I think about it and where I think it is wrong. If I confine my remarks more or less to that, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, will not object. I do not find it so surprising, as does the noble Earl, that this Committee, who were all of one political complexion, as the noble Earl himself has said, and more or less of the same preconceived ideas, should all have been in agreement. After all, it is not all that difficult to get agreement when many of the ideas and decisions are extremely vague. If they had been more precise, I suggest that agreement might have been more difficult to obtain.
This Report is, in my view, an odd mixture. It left me wondering, when we come on to prisons, how much visiting of modern prisons some members of the Committee have done. I am sure that it reads very oddly in respect to prisons. The Report is really divided into three parts. About one-sixth—and I will quote the pages if the noble Earl wants me to—is pure Labour Party propaganda, as my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye said, and has little or nothing to do either with prevention of crime, as such, or penal reform; about two-thirds of the Report is full of good ideas (the noble Earl said I was going to say this, and he was entirely correct) which have already been put in hand by the Government. Then one-sixth of the Report, which I shall mention later, consists of fairly new and rather interesting ideas, but thoroughly disappointing ones because they have not been worked out. We do not know what they really imply. The noble Earl did try in a vague way to say something about the Family Service, but there were no particular details. All this part of the Report looks to me to be very hurried.
My noble friends Lord Balfour of Inchrye and Lord Conesford also mentioned the point that there was no exact idea. It was all rather (I say this without wishing to give offence) woolly. There seems to have been some considerable hurry, I agree, in publishing the Report, because at the bottom of page 2 we are told that the Report was written before 349 any study was made of three most important documents: the White Paper on The War Against Crime in England and Wales, 1959–1964—which some of your Lordships have quoted—the Kilbrandon Report on Children and Young Persons, Scotland. The latter Report, apparently, had not been studied, in spite of what I thought the noble Earl insinuated to-day, when, picking up what one of my noble friends said, he asked him: "Have you read the Kilbrandon Report?". But the noble Earl had evidently not read it when his own Report was written. The third document was the Report of the Working Party on the Organisation of the Prison Medical Service, which was an important matter in prison reform.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I had not read the Scottish Report because it came out when our own Report was virtually complete, though I cannot remember the exact dates. But I have studied it carefully since. I have spoken to at least one acknowledged Scottish expert who takes the view, which is a matter for argument, that in the different circumstances their conclusions are very much in line with ours. That was an opinion which we were given by a Scottish expert only a day or two ago.
§ LORD DERWENT
Certainly they are to some extent in line, but they are not the same. In a study of this kind it is rather odd, when these things were in fact published, that the noble Earl's Committee should not have held back publication for a short time.
The Report is, I think, open to a number of general criticisms. First, as the noble Earl himself has said, it attempts to cover a very great variety of topics; and that, of course, is difficult, in a short document of this kind. There are 66 recommendations, and the Report often does not set out the arguments on which these conclusions are based; and in other cases it does not state precisely what its conclusions are. Thus there is no clear statement of the reasons in favour of "family courts", which the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, has mentioned, apart from how they would be run. Then the Report does not say whether its recommendation that these courts should have jurisdiction over domestic proceedings and affiliation proceedings, would involve any change in law or procedure. It is merely a sort of pious wish.
350 Again, it is not clear whether the Report agrees with the view of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders, which Her Majesty's Government accept, that prison social workers should become part of the prison service rather than part of the probation and after-care service. All the Report says is that there are "very strong arguments" for the latter arrangement. But this is a penal study and a study of administration, and "very strong arguments" is really not good enough for a Report of this kind. Her Majesty's Government found no great difficulty in accepting this particular recommendation.
§ LORD DERWENT
Not in his Report. The second matter is that the Report contains little discussion of the resources required—again, this was mentioned by my noble friend—whether of money or of manpower, to put its recommendations into effect. I shall say something in a moment about the money; but as for manpower we think—and this is a point that I must make to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, too—that it is very doubtful whether there are yet sufficient criminologists of the calibre to man the proposed "third new Research Council" and two additional institutes of criminology. It is by no means clear either that additional social workers, in the widest sense of the term, of the right quality required to put the Report's recommendations into effect could be obtained; and there is presumably a limit to the number of people suitable for such work, however much the training facilities are expanded. Thirdly, not enough is said about the need to protect the public, particularly against persistent offenders. That is hardly mentioned.
Then we come to the statement on page 43 of the Report:We doubt the value of keeping men in prison after they have learned their lesson".351 And the proposal on the following page that a parole board should have power to advise the Secretary of State to release any prisoner after he has served a quarter of his sentence seems to minimise completely the problem of recidivism, and the difficulty—which we all have because it is a very difficult subject—which the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders emphasised in their Report on preventive detention, or almost the impossibility, of forecasting whether a prisoner will "go straight" on his release. I do not know why the noble Earl and his Party have altered their line about this matter of recidivism. They now appear to think that it is a fairly easy problem; but they introduced preventive detention which was entirely to deal with that problem. They now say that it is no good. I think they said that it was no good before it was tried out properly. I must say that I disagree with them on that. It is not a problem for which there is an easy solution, and it is no good pretending, as the Report does, that there is.
Next, in alleging that action on many matters is long overdue—and, again, the noble Earl has said it to-day—I think the Report tends to lose sight of the fact that the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, which was a Labour Government Act, was a comprehensive measure of penal reform which included, amongst other things, detention centres and preventive detention in its present form, has even now been in force for only fifteen years. Although that makes the noble Earl laugh, we must remember that we are dealing with long-term sentences, and until one has tried out long-term sentences over more than that short period of fifteen years one cannot really make up one's mind—although I believe the noble Earl made up his mind about it when it had been in force for only quite a short time. We thought it was reasonable to wait some years before reviewing the situation. Whatever we announce about these matters before the Recess, the Royal Commission is going to have another look at them, because we cannot be certain, any more than the Labour Government were certain then, that we have got it absolutely right. We believe this is one of the matters which the Royal Commission will have to look at.
352 I think the principal weakness of the Report is that it deliberately ignores what has already been done, almost from first to last. There are, also, what one can only assume are deliberate inaccuracies, unless the Committee did not do their homework properly. May I deal with some of the more glaring examples? First of all, remand centres. After criticising the fact that the remand centres "provided for in the Act of 1948" are only now being built, the document goes on to complain that "these are only for young offenders". My Lords, the centres referred to in the Act of 1948 were specifically for young offenders. One of the centres, Risleys, whose completion is expected in November, is a £1½ million establishment for adult as well as young offenders. The provision of "Risleys" all over the country would be very expensive. I dare say we shall be taunted with it by the noble Earl, but we thought it prudent to get some knowledge of Risleys in operation, which is a new idea, before sinking millions of pounds in further establishments of this kind.
My Lords, detention centres. The Report is undecided whether detention centres are useful. Be that as it may, they are inevitable if short-term imprisonment for young offenders is to be avoided. They are intended for offenders who cannot be taught respect for the law by fines or probation, but whose offence and record do not justify the eighteen months' interruption of normal life involved in a borstal or approved school order. Most people, I think, would accept that there are such offenders, and the courts most emphatically do.
Then, borstals. The Report is chiefly remarkable for what it does not say. One of the most important measures of penal reform carried out since the war has been the development of the borstal system. Eighteen of the twenty-four borstals are in post-war premises, including seven new secure borstals, four of which have been built since the White Paper of 1959. The result—and this is very important, my Lords, when we are dealing with young people—has been to abolish medium-term imprisonment for young offenders except in a very restricted class of case.
353 May I now say a word about prisons, and first of all about new prisons generally? In calling for more new prisons, as it does, over and above the programme of the 1959 White Paper, particularly open prisons, the Report echoes the Government's present policy but does not acknowledge—and this is why I say that in so many ways this Report is useless—that the White Paper of 1964 announced that sites were being sought for new establishments for 4,000 places, or that the Estimates for 1964–65 include express provision for three more open prisons. In stating that more open prisons are needed, the authors of this document clearly contemplate transferring from secure to open prisons numbers of prisoners whom the experienced prison staffs at present consider not suitable to be trusted in open conditions—and it is no good pretending that there are not such people. In fact, as it happens, we have at this moment vacancies in some of our open prisons, but suitable people for them are not at this particular moment available. We think that, with further training of various new kinds, there will be a need for more open prisons, but at this particular moment there are in fact a few vacancies.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, is the noble Lord leaving the subject of prison staffs there, or will he say anything about their memorandum? It matters a good deal on the question of open prisons.
§ LORD DERWENT
I do not know which point the noble Earl wishes me to develop particularly about open prisons.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
If the prison staffs' memorandum were carried out, obviously one would need a smaller amount of security at prisons and a larger number of open prisons.
§ LORD DERWENT
I understand what the noble Earl means. As I say, we contemplate that more open prisons will be necessary; but it just happens that at this particular moment vacancies exist, with which we are, in fact, to some extent, experimenting, with people who are not now normally in open prisons.
As to the demolition of old prisons, the Report calls for the demolition of such old prisons at Brixton and Pentonville—I quite agree that these prisons 354 are most unsuitable; Pentonville, I think, was the latest word in prisons one hundred years ago—and the transfer of the sites to the local housing authority. But I think the Report overrates (and I repeat this) the number of prisoners suitable for transfer to open prisons. Anyway, the fact remains that we cannot start pulling down prisons until we have got rid of overcrowding in those we have. When we have built enough prisons—and that programme is going ahead very rapidly, as I have told your Lordships previously; I have, in fact, given the figures—then is the time to talk about pulling down the old prisons. The Report then suggests that the new prisons of 1970 will resemble those of 1870, and one might have thought from that that the committee was quite ignorant of the Blunderston design. That is rather strange, because I happen to know that the noble Earl knows it; but the Report ignores that new design.
§ LORD DERWENT
I am sorry; I thought that the noble Earl had in fact gone.
My Lords, may I just say one word on the point about women in prison? It is suggested that children over nine months should be able to stay in prison with these women prisoners. The Report suggests that that is not possible now because suitable accommodation cannot be provided, but in fact it is because we consider it is not in the best interests of the children to be in those surroundings.
The opinion is expressed that new prisons should not be maximum security, but in fact the old prisons will never be emptied unless new security prisons are provided. The Report then goes on to suggest that prisons with graded degrees of security, which are recommended in the Report, are not a most complicated matter. They say it is easy: we say it is a complicated matter. Briefly, my Lords—let us be quite truthful about this matter of security—with most prisoners, security which is not proof against a single night's work with a hacksaw is not security.
There has been considerable criticism 355 of prisoners' food, clothing and sanitation. Progressive improvements have been made in prisoners' food and clothing, and are going on all the time. In the Report's view, the present standards are harmful to health, but that is not borne out by the facts of prisoners' health as we know them. This is usually the particular subject in which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, is interested, but he is not here to-day. He says that the Department's expenditure on food and clothing is very low. Always when he produces figures he completely ignores the fact that most clothing and some food are not bought for cash but are produced in the prisons. I do not know whether he has been to any of the kitchens in prisons recently, or if noble Lords opposite have, but the additional 9d. a week which was provided to vary the diet very recently, according to the cooks has had a most extraordinarily good effect. There is a suggestion that in the old prisons sanitary facilities to abolish slopping out could be provided without radical reconstruction. My Lords, I am talking about the old prisons. We have gone into this with the architects, builders and everyone. It really cannot be done without the most radical reconstruction.
All in all, I think that the account of the present state of our prisons is unbalanced and very far from the truth. When I say that I am not speaking without knowledge. The Home Secretary, in the short time in which he has been Home Secretary, has visited 38 penal establishments—that is, prisons, borstals and detention centres—some of them more than once. I am not including approved schools in this, because they are not penal establishments. I, of course, have been at the Home Office for only a short time; I have visited 16; but the Home Secretary and his attendant Ministers have in that short time visited 94 out of 100, some of them more than once; and by the end of this summer the whole lot will have been visited. My Lords, we do not just go there, in and out: we go round, we talk, we look and we pry. The picture given in this Labour Party Report of prisons as a whole is really entirely misleading.
On the expansion of the hostel scheme, there is really no difference of opinion between the views in the Report and our 356 own; and the same applies to work in prisons. The objective in both cases is the same. I see that the Report accepts that prisoners working inside prison cannot "in the foreseeable future" receive normal industrial wages, which is a thing in which many of us are interested.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, that is a fairly contentious way of summarising the recommendation, if I may point it out: but there we are.
§ LORD DERWENT
I do not want to be too long. I really wanted to come on to the question of the immediate provision of a large number of small hostels.
§ LORD DERWENT
A great deal of local opposition would have to be overridden, because these small hostels would be, in essence, small open prisons, in industrial towns. I think the idea is an interesting one, but if you are going to have a great many of them you will have to go very slowly with the public. I am sure about that.
Then we come to the question of prison officers. The Report says thatthere is no reform more vital to the future health of our penal systemthana steep improvement in the standard of the officers".My Lords, I think this does less than justice to the very much improved officers we are getting now and to the excellent work of the older staffs. And no mention is made in the Report of the very extensive build-up of the staff in recent years.
May I say one word about the Norwich scheme, because this applies to prison staffs? I challenge the noble Earl—that is a word he likes—whether he had, in fact, asked whether the Norwich system was being carried out. I understand that, in fact, he asked what the Norwich system was and was referred to the Prison Department's Annual Report for 1956 which describes the inception of the experiment at Norwich. Because from 1956 the population of local prisons shot up, as the noble Earl well knows, it was not possible to extend to other prisons the 357 attempt to place small groups of prisoners under the continuous charge of a particular officer. That was merely a question of numbers. But other aspects of the scheme have been, and are being, tried out in various prisons. For instance, an extension of the arrangements for leaving prisoners unlocked at meals and evenings are those parts of the Norwich system that are being tried out all over the place. The one thing it was not found possible to carry out, because of numbers at the moment, was to have a small group of prisoners under the charge of a particular officer. But I can assure the noble Earl that is being done in various prisons, so far as possible, even now. The noble Earl is shaking his head. If he does not believe me, I would suggest he visits Leyhill.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I must disabuse the noble Lord of the idea that I would not believe him. I have never found him deliberately wrong in a statement of fact. I shook my head merely to indicate that I thought he was not answering my point.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, the group is not under one officer the whole time; it may have to be under two. But they are trying, so far as possible, to keep the group together—if the noble Earl sees what I mean. The same thing, or something of that kind, is happening at Holloway, but there it concerns more recidivist borstal girls.
There is a question about women in prison which I think I left out. The Report said that even fewer women should be sent to prison than are already sent, and that the women offenders should receive training and rehabilitation in small institutions accommodating whole families outside the prison service. I think that is an idea which is interesting, but I feel that such institutions will surely acquire much the same social stigma as prisons, and the objections to accommodating children in them would be the same. I think that 358 is the real danger. It is an interesting idea, but there is a real danger there.
My Lords, I am sorry to be so long, but this is a long Report. May I say a word about the probation service? As the noble Earl knows, but did not mention, there is now to be a combined probation and after-care service; and the Report says that there has been no adequate strengthening of the service. The noble Earl has repeated that to-night. We stated in the White Paper, The War Against Crime, that we have already hit the first target of 2,000 proposed by the Morrison Committee. In fact, we have 2,111. These new entrants must be trained; and the noble Earl did not mention that. There has, in effect, been an increase of 41 per cent. in five years. Our Probation Advisory and Training Board recommend that a target of 2,750 should be reached in 1966, and we have put in hand training facilities. We think it is probable, though not certain, that they will reach that number in the period.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question to which I am afraid I know the answer, though it will not help him? The noble Lord is aware that the probation service is now to be a probation and after-care service. This will impose a new burden on the probation service. I gather that at the moment there is nothing more than a token provision for that and this figure of 2,750 does not include any real provision for the greatly increased duties to fall on the probation service.
§ LORD DERWENT
That is not quite true. The number is being increased and new entrants are being trained, but the actual change-over, as between one man and the next, must take a considerable time because there are a large number of untrained people who have to be trained and until they are fully in the field the complete reorganisation cannot take place.
§ LORD DERWENT
Of course they are. May I say a word about the approved schools? Page 29 of the Report says that they are "without proper central direction and control". This is a gross exaggeration. The managers have some discretion in some fields, but all their activities are closely controlled either by the Statutes and the Approved School Rules or in other ways. All the schools are visited frequently by inspectors of the Children's Department, and any matters requiring attention are taken up by the managers. Financial control is close and detailed. Managers are required to submit annual estimates, which are carefully scrutinised before approval, and to obtain specific approval of any expenditure not covered by the estimates.
The Secretary of State has power, under Section 18 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1961, to give directions on certain matters to the managers of any school. Section 19 of the Act empowers the Secretary of State to make orders regulating the constitution and proceedings of voluntary managers, and arrangements are in hand for the making of such orders in respect of most, if not all, voluntary schools. I might say that the approved schools, like all other aspects of the present system are to be reviewed by the Royal Commission on the Penal System. Already under inquiry are the criminal statistics—and in that respect we know that the method of producing these statistics needs alteration. The noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, is a member of that Committee and I understand that they will report shortly. That is also mentioned in the Report.
There is the research into crime and social science generally which is being undertaken by the Heyworth Committee—and which is ignored in the Labour Party Report. There is jury service, the Morris Committee—and that is mentioned in the Report. There is the internal Home Office inquiry which has now collected its evidence, and is going through it, on committal proceedings. This is not mentioned in the Report. 360 There is the Widgery Committee on legal aid—and that, again, is not mentioned in the Report. Then there is the Donovan Committee on Criminal Appeals which is mentioned in the Report. It may well be that some of the Labour Party Report's recommendations on these matters will prove to be right; but it was because these matters appeared to require thorough investigation that the Government appointed Committees, and it seemed to us the best way is to await the Committees' recommendations. One rather wonders why the particular Committees I have mentioned have not been mentioned in the Report and why these matters were mentioned before the inquiries were complete and without saying they were under inquiry, unless it was possibly in an attempt to get some political kudos for a bright idea.
Finally, my Lords, there are three matters which I find regrettable both in the Report and in some of the speeches of noble Lords—and particularly in the Report. First, in giving a misleading and in some cases inaccurate picture of penal establishments much unnecessary pain must have been given to the families of prisoners and to the parents of young persons in borstal and children in approved schools. Secondly, the Report virtually ignored the deterrent value of imprisonment and punishment—and there is a deterrent value. Thirdly, noble Lords opposite have apparently not realised that the vast majority of the people of this country are law-abiding and must be protected against the activities of the small criminal minority. That is the duty of any Government. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner—at any rate it was one noble Lord—who said that they are sometimes charged with saying that the criminal minority are the only people that matter. I do not make that charge, but the Report might be said to bear out this theory.
If your Lordships really want to know what is being done as regards penal reform I strongly recommend you to read the Prison Department Annual Report for 1963. It is the first Annual Report since the Prison Commission was dissolved, and was published on June 30. In particular, I recommend your Lordships to read my right honourable friend's Foreword. It is most refreshingly free from the Party 361 political bias of this other Report that we have been discussing and, incidentally, for that reason it is much more accurate.
May I say a last word about this Report, which Mr. George Brown says—and this is confirmed by the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner—is not Labour Party policy. I quite accept that, but I think that we are entitled to ask: If it is not, what is the Labour Party policy on penal reform and the prevention of crime? Or is this yet another matter that is to be kept secret until after the Election?
May I wind up by quoting from The Prison Service Journal a short paragraph, which I believe expresses what most noble Lords really think? It is written by Mr. John Barron Mays, Senior Research Lecturer in the Department of Social Science of Liverpool University, in an article entitled, "Penal After-Care and the Community." Underlying the whole theme of the article is much of what the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, said: that there is a little too much theory and not enough knowledge and practice and research. He rather amusingly quotes the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, as stating on one occasion that most social workers seem better in practice than in theory. He then goes on to talk about the problem of recidivism, which is one of our great problems though it is small in size. He says:Sooner or later the community must face up to such questions and their underlying implications. The moment of truth must surely come when we accept the fact that there is a minority of offenders for whom no known form of treatment is in any way effective, when we acknowledge with shame and humility we have tried a degree of punishment which proved quite ineffective, that we have offered a little charity, but that too was of no avail. Then perhaps we will accept the fact that we have got to get down to the task of fundamental research, and that, although it offers no quick or easy nostrums, and may ultimately prove as abortive as retribution and mere exhortation, this is our solemn moral duty. We have to try every weapon in our armoury, not just some of them. Social Science must have its turn, too. Meanwhile, let us keep our charity for prison officers and the police who bear much on our behalf and receive more kicks than thanks.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ LORD GARDINER
My Lords, at this hour I am sure that: your Lordships will not wish or expect me to reply to every speech that has been made. We have had a most interesting debate and I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords 362 who have been good enough to take part in it. It was to me rather disappointing to find that, while we had many interesting speeches, for some reason the Government were considering this as a debate on the Report of the Committee, Crime—a Challenge to us All, and naturally they had a carefully prepared brief containing such criticisms as they could find to make. But, in spite of every encouragement, I have been disappointed that we could not induce anybody from the Government to say what he thought, at a time in the debate when there would have been many Members of your Lordships' House here to hear what he said; and, in spite of being encouraged to speak earlier in the debate, we have had to wait until the very last moment, when so many Members have unfortunately been deprived of the opportunity of hearing what the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, has had to say.
No one has challenged at all the fact that the increasing crime figures recently are serious, and that we are possibly within what I think my noble friend Lord Willis called a position of breakthrough by the criminal forces and that, from the point of view of the public, the responsibility for this is on Parliament to take things in time. Secondly, nobody has challenged the fact which I advanced, that the chief deterrent of crime is certainty of conviction, and that what we have been suffering from in the last few years is the way in which the conviction rate has fallen and fallen. Anybody with any views on what should be done with criminals is entitled to express them, but he really must bear in mind that we have no chance of dealing with criminals whom we cannot catch. Once in some crimes we get down to a conviction rate of 8½ per cent. it is no good talking of punishment having a deterrent effect, because the criminals have no intention of being caught, and we cannot punish those we cannot catch.
No one has challenged the fact that the only way to increase the conviction rate is to increase our police force so that it becomes sufficient to meet this great increase in crime which is still continuing. We have to do so in terms both of manpower and of such equipment as is necessary to take them out of the "horse and buggy" stage and into this advanced world of electronics. 363 which other countries are working to take advantage of much more than we are.
One of the real differences between the views which have been expressed on different sides of the House is on the importance which we attach to bringing things in this country up to date. This is only one facet of the law, and your Lordships know that a good deal in relation to the law has to be done to deal with things with that degree of efficiency which we both expect and require in other fields of life.
The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, gave me great encouragement, because so far as the Report of which I am a signatory is concerned—and I entirely agree with every word of it—he could find only a few parts of it, which somebody has been through with a fine comb, with which he could quarrel. There is something to quarrel with in a piece of wording on page 46, and something good which the Government said they had done and which had not been mentioned; but there seemed to be little in the Report as a whole that he could find to challenge.
My only disappointment in the debate is that we did not have more speeches on our prisons. This is a very big field as a whole. I had hoped that somebody would point out the view of the Prison Officers' Association that only about 5 per cent. of criminals need maximum security in prisons. There are many people in prison on whom we are spending a lot of money, as I think, unnecessarily. There are 17,000 a year in prison, not because they have done anything wrong but because they are awaiting trial, all of whom are acquitted or dealt with in some other way, so that they are never sentenced to prison. These people are littering up the prisons.
I think that we have to overhaul our views as to bail. Far too many magistrates' courts refuse bail the moment the police oppose it. It is rather convenient to the police to have people under lock and key pending trial. One of the few things I hope I may never live to experience is, if I am innocent, trying to defend myself from the prison cell. It may make all the difference between an innocent man being con- 364 victed or acquitted. Instead of being free to see a solicitor and find witnesses, he has to try to conduct his defence from a prison cell. A total of 17,000 people a year in prison but who are not sent to prison when it comes to trial, is, I think, too large.
Then we have a number of alcoholics and drug addicts in prison. What good prison does them, I do not know. I should have thought they ought to be having treatment. Then we have every year, under this Government, an increasing number—1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000, and now 7,000, in prison because they owe other people money. I know that any lawyer will say that they are not in prison because they owe other people money; he will say they are in prison for contempt of court, because the judge found that they could pay, and told them to pay, but they did not pay. But no layman thinks like that. If they did not owe another person money, they would not be in prison. Most countries in Western Europe have abolished sending people to prison for debt. If you ask: "Do you not find that there is a professional debtor who never pays unless there is a commital order, and then he pays at once?", they say that the effect of abolishing prison for debt is that the hire purchase companies and those who push credit on to other people are careful whom they give the credit to when they find they cannot send people to prison.
There is a great deal, so far as the prisons are concerned, that could have been said. I hope I shall live to see the day when we do not waste money on sending people to prison when there is no point in doing so. It is not really a question of deterrence. There are even large numbers of complete inadequates, hopeless people who cannot hold down a job, mostly subnormal mentally. What they really want is some discipline and to be made to work; and it can be done just as well from hostels outside. But they are hopeless without supervision. We all know of the man who does well when he is in the Armed Forces, and has a good record, but who, when he comes out, in a short time is in trouble; but if he goes back into the Armed Forces he does well again. But I must not start on that aspect to-night.
365 I am gratified to find how little in this Report has been thought capable of being attacked. I do not think it is a matter on which one Party ought necessarily to take all the credit, because, as has already been pointed out, in the Report which came out at just about the same time as ours was finalised—the Kilbrandon Report, which nobody could describe as a Socialist Report—the thinking was very much on the same lines. And, for that matter, to give credit where credit is due, there was a Report of the Bow Group, obviously thinking somewhat on the same lines. It only shows that those familiar with the subject and, who are prepared to give time to it usually end by thinking very much alike.
The final point which was made was a statement by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, not agreeing—and I can well understand it—with some criticism of the Home Office made in the Report. I have already expressed my view of Mr. Butler, the former Home Secretary, and it is one which is sincerely held. What happens in this field depends not merely on good intentions but on how much drive there is in the Home Office. Rightly or wrongly, a good many of us feel that there has been a lack of drive, maybe 366 partly because the Home Office has so much to do, what with white fish, fire brigades and one thing and another. We have felt—and I think it is right to say so, so far as the Committee is concerned—that there has, for some time, been a lack of drive in the Home Office. On the other hand, at present, as we well understand, when a Government is at ten minutes to twelve, it would be unnatural to expect any particular drive.
However, my Lords, I have said much more than I intended to. It has been a most interesting debate and, as I have said, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in it. And may I say how much I have learned from all the contributions which your Lordships have made to the discussion. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for papers, by leave, withdrawn.