§ 2.56 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT rose to call attention to the grave disquiet felt throughout the country at the increase in serious crime; to ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are contemplating in the near future to combat this increase; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, it was almost exactly a year ago to-day that we last discussed crime in general. It was on a Motion by the noble and learned Lord who now sits on the Woolsack, but at that time he was speaking from these Benches. The subject of that debate was crime and penal reform. On looking back afterwards on that most interesting debate, I came to the conclusion that it covered far too wide a field for a single debate. If your Lordships want proof of that, I would remind you that in winding-up for the Government on that occasion I had to make the longest speech that I have ever made in your Lordships' House.
§ I am quite aware that these two subjects, crime and penal reform, are intermingled, but it is perfectly possible, in discussion and in other ways, to separate them. Indeed, in my view it is most important that in the public mind they are separated. If they think about crime, the public consider the committing of crime, the daily fight against crime, what immediate steps are being taken to prevent crime, the catching of criminals and, of course, prison security. About that I shall have some more to say later. When it comes to penal reform they think of things like prisons, prison routines, borstals, the types of punishment and general reform of criminals. I think that the public are quite right in separating these two subjects in their mind, because, as your Lordships know, the solutions to crime in that sense are in the main, though not entirely, short-term solutions, because over the years the pattern of crime changes fairly rapidly; whereas of course, the solutions of potential reform questions are invariably a long-term matter.
§ I have chosen to deal with crime as the first part of this whole subject to-day, and I am quite certain that at some time 155 in the autumn we shall need to have a debate on penal reform. I have chosen crime for two reasons. The first is that crime affects directly all citizens—and I emphasise the word "directly"—whereas penal reform affects directly criminals and potential criminals. The second reason for choosing to deal with crime is that I am a little concerned to know how great is the Government's interest in this matter. It was quite noticeable in the last Parliament that week after week—I know, because I had to answer them—Questions were put to me on matters of penal reform. One seldom had a Question dealing with the increase of crime, as such, or with crime, as such. Occasionally, one got a question from the noble Lord, Lord Willis, purely on police matters; but apart from that, the then Opposition did not seem to take an enormous personal interest in the matter. Therefore, I thought that it would be better to deal with crime now and penal reform later, and perhaps today we can find out what the Government think on these matters.
§ So far, we have heard little or nothing from this Government about either prevention of crime or penal reform. It is true that we have recently passed through your Lordships' House the Firearms Bill which deals with one small, important aspect of crime, and I hope that that is going to be effective. But that is about all we have heard about crime from this Government, and it is about time we heard a little more.
The first part of my Motion refers to the grave disquiet—and I should have added the word "fear"—felt by the public at the increase in crime. I do not need to argue with your Lordships whether anxiety and fear exist on these matters, for we all know that they do exist; but perhaps I could spend a moment or two discussing whether the anxiety and fear are justified. On this particular aspect of the matter, I should like to quote the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor who spoke in the debate on crime and penal reform, on July 15, 1964. One or two of his phrases will perhaps illustrate the situation. I refer to col. 247, and the following cols. of the OFFICIAL REPORT [Vol. 260.] Quite early in his speech he made this remark, about which I shall have some-
thing further to say later, with which I entirely agree:
I think that crime does much more harm to the community than most people realise.
A little further on he went on to illustrate the financial aspect of it. He said:
… the value of the property stolen in London in 1962 was £12½ million, of which only £2½ million worth was recovered." [Ibid.]
A little later on he said [col. 248]:
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 …".
And later, in column 249, he said:
Therefore, the first point I venture to make is that the amount of evil which crime does to a community tends to be underestimated …".
That pinpointed the anxiety and fear which was felt a year ago, but your Lordships know, from various Government statements, and in particular from various reports of chief constables all over the country, that this position has got very much worse, particularly as regards those types of crime which cause most anxiety to the citizen.
§ I am not going to quote a mass of figures to your Lordships. I want to refer to just two pages of the Criminal Statistics, 1963, which are the most recent statistics issued by the Home Office. As I am on that point, may I ask the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to say when he comes to reply whether we are likely to get this year's Criminal Statistics a little earlier than we got last year's? The Home Office have now had a whole year to get used to their computer, and perhaps we can get back to as early a date as that on which the Home Office used to bring out the statistics before they had a computer.
§ I would refer your Lordships to the graphs in the pamphlet on pages xli and xlii. Those statistics deal with crime from 1938 to 1963 inclusive. I am not going to talk about the earlier statistics, because I do not think they are particularly important to us to-day. I will deal only with the statistics of the four years 1960 to 1963, because they relate to what is happening at the present time. The first graph deals with all indictable offences known to the police. In those four years, 1960 to 1963, the number of indictable offences rose from 750,000 to 970,000. The rise during 157 those four years was steeper than it had been at any period back to 1938. Dividing up that figure, the next graph deals with violence against the person. This crime causes enormous anxiety to the public in certain areas, but, as I hope to explain to your Lordships, I do not believe it is the type of crime which causes the most widespread anxiety. Crimes of violence against the person in those four years rose from 17,000 to 20,000. By far the steepest rise in that kind of crime occurred in the last two years of the period, 1962 and 1963. That type of crime appears to be increasing just as fast at present. On the same page there is a graph dealing with sexual offences. They run at the very high figure of 20,000 a year, but they do not appear to have increased ever since 1957. I can offer no explanation for that, and I am going to leave the matter.
§ I now come to the two offences which I believe cause more anxiety to the public than any others. The first is larceny, and the second, about which I shall have a great deal more to say later, is breaking and entering. The figures for the last four years in regard to larceny increased from 500,000 to 650,000, which is a quite astonishing rise. The figures for breaking and entering rose from 140,000 to 220,000. Breaking and entering and burglary are the crimes which I believe cause the most anxiety to the general public. I speak with some experience in this matter, because on that disastrous night which many of us regret, General Election night, while my wife and I were in Yorkshire, my house in London was burgled. It is a most unpleasant experience, to say the least of it, to come back to find one's house broken into—and my house is fairly well fortified against burglaries—and a tremendous amount of damage, doors smashed up, desks broken open, and a certain amount stolen, though not a great deal, as I do not keep much in the house. It gives one an unpleasant feeling to return home and find all one's things messed about like that. My wife is not a particularly nervous person, but until we had our fortifications strengthened she did not much like to be left alone in the house after dark, which happened occasionally.
§ This is a crime which I believe is one of the most difficult for the police, because it is so widespread, and is some- 158 times done by amateurs rather than by professional criminals. This is a matter about which the country will have to take some very urgent steps. The public are not going to stand this situation much longer. I would remind the House that only a few years ago most of us who lived in the country commonly left our front doors unlocked during the day. Nobody does it nowadays; and anybody who does is a fool. It has got as bad as that. It is not only in the towns where crime is increasing; it is happening all over the country.
§ I then come to the second part of my Motion, which is by far the most important part. It asks what Her Majesty's Government are thinking of doing about all this. I repeat that, so far, we have heard very little, or even nothing, about it. The Government have now been in office a considerable time, and it is time that we and the public found out what is in their minds.
§ I have two sets of questions to ask and I think the first batch will probably be answered by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, because they are essentially Home Office matters. I should like to know, first of all, how the Police Act is working. I shall have something more to say about the Police Act presently. It takes some time to implement, I know, but we should like to know how it is going on. It was probably the first measure in our life times which really tried to help the police to modernise; and, after all, dealing with this matter all comes down to the police. So I shall hope for a fairly full report from the noble Lord as to how this Act is working, and whether the Home Office have any further plans to assist the implementation of this Act.
§ I should also like to know from the noble Lord how police forces are getting on with switching police from jobs they need not do and putting those jobs on to civilians. There is far too much adherence to the old custom of "Police officers do this", when it is quite unnecessary, and I hope the noble Lord will have a good deal to say about that. I hope that he will also have something to say about the new probation and after-care service, particularly on the probation side which is part of the fight against crime.159
§ I hope the noble Lord will have a great deal to say about the C.I.D. When one is burgled, and one talks to a detective or detective sergeant or somebody of that kind afterwards, one realises that unless the police are darned lucky, or it is a very big robbery which probably leads to one of several gangs, they have not got a hope of finding the burglar. One of the reasons is, of course, that the C.I.D. are too thin on the ground. I want to know from the noble Lord what is being done about the C.I.D. I believe it is functioning as it was meant to function about forty years ago. I do not say anything against the C.I.D. in this connection. There is not enough money for it—we know about that—but, on the other hand, if we spend money to catch the people who are breaking and entering or burgling, the country will save money in the long run.
§ I think there are various things that happen in police forces which are completely out of date. I should like to ask the noble Lord whether the Home Office has yet considered the question of the promotion of detective officers. Many of these men—not all of them—are grossly overworked at the moment. If a man has been a very successful detective and has worked many hours' overtime, he probably has not had time to do much book work apart from his day-to-day job. Is it really necessary in this branch of the police service for a detective to take an exam, when his superior officers have probably seen him working for years at his particular job? They must know whether he is worth promotion. I agree that in the ordinary way exams are necessary, and they probably are in the uniformed branch, but I do not think it is fair to ask detectives to do a lot of book work when all their other work is fully known. I should like the noble Lord to say something on that subject.
§ The last of my questions to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, is this. What are the Home Office doing about prison security? I do not think it is generally realised that the general system of security in secure prisons—those are the ones in which one keeps the really "bad hats"—was evolved not only in the horse-and-buggy age, but in the age when the régime for prisoners inside the prison was much 160 more severe and much more controlled. Owing to many prison reforms—and I am not arguing against those reforms as such—there is much more intermingling of prisoners, and there is much more visiting by outside people. Again I am not at this moment arguing whether that is a good or a bad thing, but it follows that if these reforms are in force prisons which were previously secure are no longer secure. In my view, it is not necessarily the system that is wrong but the actual prisons that are wrong.
§ When I was at the Home Office I went to visit a secure prison in the country. The buildings themselves were secure, and I think it would have been very difficult to get out of them. But the area around was the work area, and there had been one or two escapes through a wire fence. I am getting on now in age; I am not unduly fit; I am not so desperate as some of those men may have suddenly become; but I could have got over that wire in five minutes, and with another bit of wire which I could have twisted I could have got out in a shorter time by breaking the wire fence. That is not security.
§ Really, my Lords, what are the Home Office doing about security? I know that this has been a long-term problem, but it has been highlighted. Have any additional security measures been taken between the time Wilson escaped and the escape the other day? When I say "security measures", I do not mean sending a man from prison to prison. What I mean is, is any watch kept outside the prison? Is any watch kept from the top of the walls? In many American secure prisons there are watchtowers on the walls. I am told that this was considered a bad thing by certain reformers, because it gave people the impression that they were inside prison when they were inside prison. I should have thought that that was difficult to avoid. But the effect in America, I am informed, is that the prison officer who is not doing his turn on the wall, watching outside and in, can then get on with his proper job of looking after prisoners, either in the workshops or in other places.
§ In this country nothing seems to have been done in that direction, and it is in the last two years (I know that discussions were going on inside the Home Office) 161 that these escapes have become profoundly disturbing, not only because of the two train robbers, but because there have been far too many escapes. One must expect occasional escapes from open prisons, when a faulty judgment is made about the men sent there, but on the whole the system works very well. But these men have been escaping from secure prisons, and these prisons are no longer secure. They were built for an old-time criminal element, with different crafts at their disposal, and I think the country will want to know a good deal about them from the noble Lord to-day.
The only other thing I have to do, is to ask certain questions which I imagine will be answered by the noble Earl the Leader of the House. I would refer, first of all, to the speech which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner made at the close of the debate a year ago. He was complaining that he thought there was not enough urgency at the Home Office. He said:
What happens in this field depends not merely on good intentions but on how much drive there is in the House Office.
Then a little later he went on to say:
On the other hand, at present, as we well understand, when a Government is at ten minutes to twelve "—
and I suppose that he was referring to the late Government—
it would be unnatural to expect any particular drive."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, VOI. 260, cots. 365–6, July 15, 1964.]
May I just for one moment remind the House of what happened when the last Government was "at ten minutes to twelve"—or even slightly later? There was a series of small Bills dealing with particular aspects of crime, either for enforcement officers or for the police. Your Lordships will remember that they dealt with purple hearts, clip-joints and so on, and I remember that the noble Lord, Lord Willis, was rather scathing about the fact that they were small Bills. The fact remains that I am told that they had the desired effects. Also at "ten minutes to twelve", we passed through Parliament, against great opposition from noble Lords opposite, a major Bill which I believe to be the most important Bill in the fight against crime that has been passed in our life-time. That was the Police Act. It was the first serious effort to enable the police to modernise themselves, apart from other things, and it will take some time to implement that Act.
§ What I want to ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House is: what are the Government now intending to do in view of the crime situation that I have described? Are there any administrative steps that they intend to take? Have they any legislation, large or small, in mind? We have had the Firearms Bill—that is a good beginning—but have they anything else? I think that we and the public are entitled to know. I wonder how much the noble Earl will be able to tell us. It will be interesting to hear. What we want to know is: what are the Government's plans? Or am I perhaps being a little unfair in asking what the Government's plans are? It may be that the Government believe what I think most of the country now hopes: that the Government are themselves at "five minutes to twelve". My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, I am sure we are all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for having given us the opportunity to debate this very serious matter this afternoon. I feel quite sure that all noble Lords will agree that Lord Derwent is quite right when, in the wording of his Motion, he says that grave disquiet is felt throughout the country at the increase in serious crime. I shall not be able even to attempt to deal with this large subject comprehensively, because I feel very much that I am speaking in the shadow of yesterday's debate, and I want to try to impose upon myself that ten-minute rule of which I think your Lordships seemed strongly in favour yesterday. Incidentally, I do not know whether it is cumulative; so that if you took only one minute yesterday you are entitled to 19 minutes this afternoon, but I shall not take the risk.
I wish to follow the noble Lord, Lord Dement, in many things, but in one thing I shall not follow him, because I do not propose to attack the Government this afternoon. What I propose to do is to say a few words about one crime—that is, the crime of stealing in its many forms, which I believe to be the great scourge. I think that all the other crimes in the calendar added up together are not responsible for half the amount of human misery that stealing in its various forms creates. If I could begin with one of the more serious forms, robbery with violence, I would venture to suggest that 163 some Trevelyan of a future age, writing his Social History of England in the Twentieth Century, will say something like this:They still carried vast sums of money through the streets in banknotes and in coin of the realm for the purpose of paying factory workers on pay days.I feel quite sure that this is a ludicrous practice, really; that we have got to overcome it in some way, and that we shall overcome it. I cannot pretend to be able to prophesy in quite what way we are going to overcome it.
I am sorry that the banks do not seem very helpful in this regard. The banks do not give the impression that they are particularly anxious to have the current accounts of factory workers. I remember reading in the Financial Times some time ago a Metter written by a carpenter who was working in a factory, who said that the only time he ever saw a bank with its doors open was during his fortnight's summer holiday. And we are told now that the banks are going to restrict their opening hours still further. In that way they are going still further to discourage working people from opening bank accounts and acquiring the banking habit, and I think this is very much to be regretted. We are sometimes told that most people can get to a hank during their lunch hour, but I always fail to see why they should. I thought that the purpose of the lunch hour was to have lunch. Why should people be expected to bolt their lunch in order to rush to the bank, and have hiccoughs for the rest of the afternoon? I think this is quite wrong.
To turn to the householder and the shopkeeper, and their battle against theft, I should like to say first of all that I think we cannot in the immediate future expect very much more help from the police, who we all realise are understaffed and overworked to a very great extent at the present time. But this is the age of "Do-it-yourself", and householders and shopkeepers can do for themselves a great deal more than they are doing at the present time to win the battle against theft. Take, first of all, the householder. There are, of course, the obvious precautions of which I think most people are now aware, largely thanks to the B.B.C., who are constantly putting out warnings over the radio to people who 164 are about to go away on holiday—such as not letting the newspapers and the milk pile up on the doorstep. But there are two other points I should like to mention—although I am sorry to think that possibly neither of these matters would have helped the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, on General Election night, which, of course, was a double disaster to the noble Lord.
The first of them is something which has been advocated by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goddard, for a great many years, and it is this. If only people would remember to lock the doors of the rooms which they do not use, that would tend to contain the housebreaker within the one room into which he breaks. If he breaks in by a window, then, unless he is a very determined character, he is going to be contained within the one room. Furthermore, he is going to have to leave by that same window, which I understand housebreakers do not like doing; they much prefer to slip out unobtrusively by the back door. The second matter is this: I wish we followed the excellent practice of our ancestors and fitted shutters to the windows of our houses. Shutters make an excellent burglar protection, and they have one other great advantage, too. In these days, when we are so conscious of heat insulation, thermal insulation, the first thing we do is to insulate the ceiling over the top floor, but the next thing we ought to attend to is the heat lost through the windows. I believe that if shutters were fitted to modern houses the cost of the shutters would very quickly he retrieved by savings in fuel hills for domestic heating; and, for the rest of the lifetime of that house, there would be an excellent, free burglar protection in the form of shutters over the windows.
Finally, my Lords, a word about the shopkeeper and his battle against the shoplifter. I know that this is a problem for shopkeepers nowadays in this age of self-service. That is an excellent system, but it much increases the chances of the shoplifter. I have seen grotesque examples of ill-attention to this matter on the part of shopkeepers, and I should like to give one instance. About 50 yards from Piccadilly Circus, on the South side of Piccadilly, is a catering establishment run by one of the largest catering establishments in England. It consists of a shop in the front and a tea-shop and a 165 Café at the back. The shop is run on the self-service system. It sells cakes of all kinds and confectionery, and these things are set out upon open shelves. The customers select from the shelves what they like and take them to the counter and pay for them.
When the shop in the front closes at about 6 o'clock in the evening, one might suppose that the shop assistants, before they went home, would either clear the merchandise off the shelves or else would erect some form of screening in front of the shelves—but not at all. The cakes, chocolates and sweets lie on the shelves for the next four hours, during which time the café at the back is open and there is a constant stream of customers of the caféouring in and out of the shop past the things on the open shelves.
I do not know whether if you helped yourself to a few things off those shelves you would be noticed by one of the customers sitting at the nearest table, or whether that customer would do something about it. What is certain is that no member of the staff would notice, because the focal point of the café is right at the far end of the shop. I suppose that such petty pilfering as I refer to is hardly within the terms of this debate, but I have a nasty feeling that the petty pilfering of to-day which goes unchecked may turn into the serious crime of to-morrow. I should have thought that a great organisation which almost goes out of its way to throw temptation in front of shoplifters was doing itself no good service and was doing the community no good service. I wish that great organisation which runs that excellent catering establishment would not pursue this practice in the way it does.
§ 3.31 p.m.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD STONHAM)
My Lords, the House is greatly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for this opportunity to discuss the extremely serious and constant increase in crime. We are faced with the unhappy fact that, judged by the figures, 1964 was the worst year for crime on record: a total of 1,066,467 indictable offences known to the police—9 per cent. more than in 1963. The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, asked me about the publication of the 166 figures for 1964. I would remind him that the figures for indictable offences were published on May 24, and it is planned to publish the full volume in November, one month earlier than last year. It would have been earlier but for the teething troubles we experienced with the computer when it was in the inexperienced hands of the noble Lord last year.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, that is now part of common practice in the Home Office.
The noble Lord also said that the public are not going to stand for this state of affairs much longer. I can very much sympathise with that point of view, for we are all members of the public; but I would mention to the noble Lord, as gently as I possibly can, that all the figures, the deplorable figures, that he quoted were for the period when his own Party were in office. I do not wish to make a Party point about this because we are all in this together. There is great public concern and anxiety about this problem, and it is on that basis that I propose to discuss it.
I do not intend to analyse the figures, but because of a point that I shall be making later I would emphasise now, as, indeed, did the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, with whose speech I was wholly in agreement (it will be studied with the greatest interest, and I shall be dealing in full with it later) that nine out of every ten offences in this one million-plus total were crimes of larceny or breaking and entering, and that a big proportion of them were preventable. Nor do I intend to discuss the related subject of the causes of crime, supremely important though that is. But my noble friend the Leader of the House will have something to say on this and other related subjects, such as the probation and after-care service, because these cannot be divorced from consideration of the subject of the incidence of crime. But I believe that, within the terms of the Motion before the House and of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, your Lordships would wish me to concentrate on the steps which we are taking to aid the police—our front-line troops in the war against crime—in their efforts to deflate, 167 defeat and, if possible, destroy this ugly, vicious monster which waxes in our midst.
But before looking at what is being done I will answer Lord Derwent's question about the implementation of the Police Act 1964. I very much regretted to hear the noble Lord say that this was passed in the teeth of vigorous opposition from my Party. When a Party allows a major Bill to go through without dividing on the Second Reading one can hardly call that vicious opposition. It is true that we tried, not altogether successfully, to improve the Bill during the Committee and other stages; but there was a great deal about it that we welcomed. Your Lordships will recall that last November, in the debate on the Address, I gave an assurance, and I am now glad to be able to tell your Lordships that the whole task of implementation of the 1964 Act was completed on June 1 last. This was a major task, although an unspectacular one.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, forgive me for interrupting. I do not want there to be any misunderstanding. The implementation of the mechanics were finished, as I think the noble Lord means. But, of course, the implementation of the Act does not rest entirely with the Government: it rests to some extent with the police forces themselves.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I did not think it necessary to tell such an erudite gathering as your Lordships that obviously some of the effects of the Police Act will not be realised for a decade or so. What I meant was that in the administrative sense, in so far as Acts of Parliament can change things, the whole of the Act has been implemented.
The Act has provided a framework against which measures of modernisation and expansion can take place. It is, of course, in its own right an important consolidating measure; but it has made many real advances of substance, of which I have time to mention only a few. It has strengthened the powers of the Secretary of State to make compulsory amalgamations when he is satisfied that this is justified in the interests of police efficiency; it makes important changes in the procedure for dealing with com- 168 plaints against the police—and I would mention that, under the enabling powers in the Act, a complete new code of discipline for our police has been instituted with the agreement of all the interested associations. We have introduced an entirely new consolidated set of police regulations, and police authorities have been reconstituted on the lines recommended by the Royal Commission in accordance with Part I of the Act. I would extend on behalf of the Government grateful thanks to the local authority and service associations for the way they have helped us in the implementation of the Act. You cannot expect everyone to agree about everything where the field is so large, and I know that there was a good deal of dissatisfaction with the requirement that magistrates should comprise one third of the new watch committees. But over the whole field I am glad to say that there has been really heartening co-operation between all concerned.
I now come to the work and disposition of the police forces, and it may be convenient if I consider this under the five heads: (1) manpower; (2) the efficiency of their deployment and organisation; (3) fuller employment of police officers on strictly police duty, about which the noble Lord asked me particularly; (4) the use of scientific aids and modern methods; and, (5) the vitally important subject of crime prevention.
First, the subject of manpower. The stark fact is that we have not nearly enough men for the job, and we have to solve the problem, in a world of very full employment and rising living standards, of recruiting enough men of the requisite physical and educational standards who are willing to tackle and stay in a demanding, disciplined, often dangerous job, which calls for inconvenient and often long hours, shift work, working week-ends and holidays, and the likelihood of a report if you talk straight to a motorist who has dined over-well. It is not easy, especially as the increasing population, great growth of motor traffic, the incidence of crime, and the unceasing activity of Parliament in creating new offences, make more work for the police than ever before. Nevertheless we are making progress. Our recruitment campaign this year is showing encouraging results: 3,576 recruits during the first five 169 months of this year. After allowing for those who left, the net increase in strength was 1,207 in five months. That is almost four times as many as last year in the same period.
Part of our appeal has been aimed at the better-educated young man. We have recently taken special steps to keep in touch with universities and schools to ensure that full information about the opportunities and rewards of a police career is available to careers advisers, parents, undergraduates and senior schoolboys. Success in the fight against crime requires not only enough policemen, but also enough young officers of high ability to be the future leaders of a police service which looks to its own ranks to provide the top men. In the modern police service no young man, however able, need fear that his abilities will not be fully stretched, or that his efforts will not receive the recognition they deserve. We are taking steps to break down the mistaken belief that if a sixth-former or a graduate joins the police, he will not be making full use of his education. But building up the strength of the police is a relatively gradual process, and it is particularly difficult in the big cities where the shortage of men is most severe, especially in the detective departments as the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, mentioned.
When my right honourable friend addressed the annual conference of the Police Federation this year, he drew special attention to the fact that the Metropolitan Police have to-day 500 fewer men than in 1920, whereas in the rest of England and Wales the strength had increased in the same period from 35,284 to 60,541, which is getting on towards double the number. It is for this reason that the Police Council, the national negotiating body for the police service, has been giving close attention to the needs of undermanned forces, with special reference to the Metropolitan Police. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, will agree that it does not help the negotiators if we comment while they are still discussing the issues, and I can only tell your Lordships that at the last meeting the Official Side made an offer to increase the present small London allowance and to institute an additional undermanning allowance for those larger forces with very substantial deficiencies. 170 The Staff Side regard this offer as inadequate, and the matter will be further considered at next week's meeting of the Council, when I hope that we shall make some progress.
My Lords, the British public, fed on a consistent diet of "Z Cars" and "No Hiding Place", is accustomed to a 100 per cent. detection rate with every crime solved in 55 minutes flat—47 minutes if you allow for the advertisements. But there is a great difference between dealing with one crime a week on T.V., and a single detective, using the same methods, and even some new ones not yet shown on the screens, but dealing with an annual case-load of hundreds of real life criminals who show an unfortunate and un-T.V.-like reluctance to co-operate. We have long been conscious of the over-loading of the C.I.D. In Birmingham, for example, the detective force, has been increased by 50 per cent. since 1953; but this has been overmatched by a 200 per cent. increase in the number of crimes committed during the same period. Under these conditions the surprise is not that the unsatisfactory 39.6 per cent. detection rate in 1964 was so low but that it was as high as it was, and that the number of arrests has acutally gone up very substantially—from 80,000 in 1953 to 148,000 in 1963—and it is still increasing. We owe these results to an inadequate force of overworked officers to whom I send a message of appreciation and support, in which I know your Lordships will join.
I come to the vitally important question of the efficient deployment and organisation of the police forces as a whole, in the national sense. At present we are dealing in England and Wales with 122 separate police forces, some large, some quite small. Under the 1964 Act the Home Secretary has power to promote the amalgamation of police areas when he is satisfied that this will be in the interests of efficiency, and we welcome the voluntary amalgamation of five police areas in East Anglia, the first amalgamation under the Act. Others are on the way. No doubt your Lordships will know the extent of the opposition, the tooth and nail opposition, which arises in and out of Parliament whenever we propose amalgamation. We are making progress, but we shall still be left with a large number of separate 171 forces, and this heavily underlines the importance of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in the organisation of the whole force. With the recent increase in inspectors and staff the inspectorate are in a far better position to perform the tasks which the Royal Commission on the Police visualised for them—and not only to assess the efficiency of the police forces, but also to act as a channel between the central organisation of research and development and the separate forces, paying particular attention to the need for co-operation between forces and dissemination of knowledge of the most successful methods.
Vigorous measures are being taken, both centrally and by individual forces, to improve efficiency, particularly in the field of crime detection. One of these is the Home Office Police Research and Planning Branch, which is giving close attention to the study of new techniques to enable the police to deal promptly and effectively with changes in the pattern of crime and in the behaviour of criminals. The Branch is staffed with police officers and scientists, working side by side, and a recent increase in their numbers will enable the branch to make a still more effective contribution. The noble Lord asked what we are doing. All these are recent changes. Already the fruits of their labours are apparent.
Another thing we did only three-months ago was to form the regional crime squads. It was a bold and imaginative conception. There are nine squads, covering the nine police districts of England and Wales, and we have seconded to them a total of 600 experienced detectives. These regional crime squads have no case-load, and with them it is the criminal rather than the crime that is investigated. The supreme advantage of the regional crime squads is that their activities are not confined to police boundaries. They can, and do, cross the frontiers. Already they are chalking up an impressive record, and success has been achieved by using those assets peculiar to them.
I can illustrate this best by giving an example of their work. A criminal escaped from prison, and members of a regional crime squad kept observation on the home of his relatives. They noticed that a man using various makes of car 172 was visiting the house, and identified him as a man who had served a sentence with the escaped criminal. They suspected that the two men were responsible for a series of safe blowing offences, and information regarding the men and particulars of vehicles they used were circulated to various police districts. As a result, a uniformed officer, from a quite different area, reported that the men had rented a cottage and were spending large sums of money. The crime squad identified them. The cottage was entered and both men arrested. One of them proved to be the escaped prisoner, although he had grown a beard and dyed his hair. They were both found guilty of a number of safe blowing exploits in two counties and were sentenced to substantial terms of imprisonment.
When I mention one case of the recapture of a criminal escaping from prison your Lordships will think at once of a more spectacular case fresh in all our minds, about which I will, as asked, say a few words. There is in my experience no single subject which causes prison governors and their staffs more constant concern, or demands more unceasing vigilance, than the possible escape of their charges. It is true that we are dealing with a totally new and unprecedented situation in this country and that we are housing our men, in the most part, in prisons built up to a hundred years ago; but I would not have it thought for one moment that we are not adjusting to this new situation. Let us, please, have an understanding of what we mean when we talk about escapes. The noble Lord referred to the increase in the number of escapes. He is quite right. In 1963 it was about 40 per cent. up on 1962, and the 1964 figures will show a similar increase. It is quite a serious matter.
From most open prisons, of course, escapes are virtually walk-outs, and even a man in a closed prison, if he waits long enough, may eventually get away from an outside working party, if he is prepared to pay the penalties that follow almost inevitable recapture. This, however, most certainly does not apply to the train robbers, who are not merely "A" Class men, but extra "A" in terms of the surveillance imposed on them. No two train robbers are in the same prison. Their cells are changed frequently. At night they are deprived of clothing and 173 the interior of their lighted cells is under observation. We have not got the sentence of death on these men. There are limits to what we can do, because prisons are communities where men have to live, work, eat, walk and sometimes talk. Although they are under constant supervision, this must apply even to the train robbers. They are allowed, under prison Rules, to write and receive censored letters. They receive visits, always with a prison officer present and in hearing. It is virtually impossible for an outsider to make direct communication with them, without the knowledge of prison officials, Equally, it is virtually impossible completely to prevent any form of communication with other prisoners and, through them, with ex-prisoners. And this doubtless was the channel used by the escape pang to warn Biggs that he was to be "sprung". A thorough review has been made and we are taking all additional safeguards, which experience shows to be necessary.
The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, asked me what has been done and mentioned the American system. I understand that the American system is the all-electric system, as compared with our custodial system, depending on prison officers.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, with great respect. I do not think that the noble Lord is quite right on that. It concerns in part the actual buildings, not electrical devices.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I am just coming to that point. I want to emphasise that we place major reliance—and a not misplaced reliance—on our prison officers, but as your Lordships know, a special security block is to be built on the Isle of Wight adjoining the new prison at Albany in order to cater for men, including such men as the train robbers, who will have to be kept in prison for very long periods of time. This accommodation will not only be of an exceptionally secure kind, but there will be a much higher staffing ratio than is considered necessary even in present-day recidivist security prisons. In addition to the new block at Albany, special units are being prepared in three other prisons, two of which are now ready for occupation, to deal with men who are high escape risks, whatever the length of their sentence. These special self-contained units within a prison involve the use of modern 174 technical devices and close collaboration with the police.
Once a man is over the wall, it is a job for the police. With Biggs, the elaborately planned get-away succeeded—at least for the moment. It is now a case of watching ports and air terminals, and working overtime with the under and above ground sources of information open to the police, and looking for anything unusual, as they did in Somerset, where at Taunton the other day they picked up clothing, which is being investigated and on which I cannot yet give your Lord-ships the forensic report, although the matter is being pressed forward. We have had a lot of suggestions made to us, some in the newspapers, some elsewhere, and constructive suggestions are always welcome. Nothing would be more profitable from the Parliamentary point of view than for me to go through the suggestions that have been made, to say which of them are already in operation, which are impracticable for this or that reason, or which are being taken up. Unfortunately, it is the enemies of society who would profit most from such an exercise. I am sure, therefore, that your Lordships will agree that it would be wholly wrong if I were to disclose what is being done in this difficult task of apprehending Biggs and those who escaped with him. It is certainly a top priority job and one into which every ounce of ingenuity and effort is being put.
I come to my third point—namely, the steps we are taking to ensure the employment of police officers on police duties and not as typists, telephonists and tea boys. The introduction of traffic wardens, not only to police parking meters but on traffic duties, is an example of the relief we are giving to the police on outside duties. The number of wardens has been almost doubled in the last two years. Civilian mechanics for vehicle maintenance is another example. Their use is growing, though handicapped by the fact that we have to compete with industry for scarce labour. The same applies to civilian clerks and typists, but we are encouraging civilian recruitment and transfer of appropriate functions as far as possible. Every civilian who takes over a station job now done by a police officer is putting another man on the beat. Office equipment has in the past often been grossly inadequate and we have been trying to remedy this and encouraging 175 the use of such equipment as dictaphones. This is hardly demonstrable by statistics, but H.M. Inspectors of Constabulary are constantly urging the introduction of new office equipment on a big scale. It is unpardonable waste if the lack of efficient tools halves the effectiveness of an experienced officer whose full effort is needed in the war against crime.
With regard to the use of scientific aids to crime detection, the Police Research and Planning Branch is urgently considering the use of computers for police purposes. A separate specialised unit, the Home Office and Metropolitan Police Joint A.D.P. Planning Unit, is studying the feasibility of using computers for police and aliens records work. Earlier this year, members of the Unit visited the U.S.A. and Canada to study the use made of computers by their police forces. This team is being expanded from 5 members to 17. We are also investigating the possibility of applying computers to the identification of fingerprints. If we are successful, the aids to detection will be very great. What we need is a method of classifying a single fingerprint so that it can be automatically scanned and searched in the main ten-finger collection at New Scotland Yard. I do not wish to suggest that we are on the eve of finding a solution, but we are hopeful.
Indeed, over the whole scientific field, from electronics to radio, we are looking for machines and methods which will speed and aid the work of detection and, when we find them, we shall employ them. For example, we have 1,700 walkie-talkie radio sets. We want a pocket-size set. We have not got it yet, though we have had extended field trials for it; but because of our impatiences in this matter we have ordered 1,000 sets of the three standard types, which will all be delivered by the autumn and distributed according to police strengths in the districts. But we shall find what we want through our field trials, and order it and get it, and it will be of enormous assistance to the ordinary police constable in the efficient performance of his duties. We have also had the assistance of the scientists at Aldermaston, where scientists are carrying out a full-scale investigation into the identification of suspects by minute hairs from the head. These are just some of the things that are being done.
176 Finally, I come to the fifth theme I put before the House, the very important question of the co-operation of the police and the people in crime prevention. I mentioned earlier that in 1964 some nine-tenths of the indictable offences known to the police came under the headings of larceny or breaking and entering. To be precise, the figure was 937,784—a great slice out of our million-plus. Beyond question a large proportion of these crimes would never have been committed if people had taken reasonable care of their property. For example, there were 171,088 thefts from vehicles last year, well over 3,000 a week, simply because in the large majority of cases people just did not bother to lock their cars. And few thieves go to the trouble of breaking into a car anyway unless valuables are left in full view.
The moral is clear. Both police and public have a vital part to play in preventing crime. The Home Office attaches the greatest importance to this work and the Government have to-day decided to launch, this autumn, a national publicity campaign to impress upon the public how necessary their co-operation is, and to show them the ways in which they can best help the police and themselves by safeguarding their property. A great amount of police time is taken up by the investigation of crimes which could be prevented by sensible public action, and if the public could be induced to help itself more than it does, this would really be of the greatest importance from the point of view of liberating police-men to do their proper job.
In view of the gravity of the situation, it has been decided that the sum of £150,000 should be made available for his special campaign now. This is the largest campaign of the kind ever projected. It will be directed to all sections of the community, and Press, radio and television publicity will be used to supplement posters and other materials. I do not doubt that the help of police authorities and forces throughout the country will be readily offered to us, and we shall be saying more about this to them very soon.
Already there is a network of specialists in crime prevention throughout the country who will be able to help onward this national publicity; many forces now 177 have a senior officer devoting all his time to it, and in the larger forces there is a specialist officer in every division. But there is only so much the police can do. We, the general public, so far as the bulk of crimes are concerned, are the people concerned who can do most to solve the problem of rising crime in this country—and we are not doing nearly enough. And I mean every member of the public, rich and poor, child or adult. To take just one example, if children can be taught to padlock their bicycles they will save many hours of police time, and prevent much heartache for themselves. And this one example could be multiplied a thousand times over the whole field of crime. If everyone in this country took as a matter of habit a few simple precautions, such as the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, mentioned, it would be a great help, because the average criminal is not particularly clever or persistent; but he knows how to exploit weakness, and it is very often we ourselves who show him a weak spot that he takes advantage of. It is true that there are the much smaller number of skilled professional criminals whose exploits fill the headlines. It is against this type that the more sophisticated and modern methods, some of which I have mentioned, are being deployed and they are likely to be increasingly successful.
My Lords, I have examined the main lines we are pursuing in the prevention and detection of crime. But we must all realise that this is a critical time so far as the police service of this country is concerned. The Royal Commission, the 1964 Act, and the comprehensive follow-up action that has been taken have given us a new structure. We now have to make efficient and imaginative use of it in meeting problems of crime which are overwhelming in scale, as it is in all the great industrialised countries. No one looking at the problem, which is very largely that of coming to terms with our complicated and demanding civilisation, will feel that the solution can be an easy one. It is a campaign that we have to fight on many fronts, of which the police front is only one, although it is the hottest front of all. The policeman, almost alone, is expected to overpower a brutal criminal one moment, and to act as an understanding social worker the next. He is expected to combine patience and 178 ingenuity to a quite extraordinary extent. And he does, and must, depend fundamentally on the support of the public in this matter.
The Government's attitude—and here I am answering the noble Lord's direct question—is neither apologetic nor complacent, but deadly earnest and determined. The police are at the receiving end of everything and striving gallantly and ceaselessly to cope. This House and the nation has the right to express criticism and concern, but even more this House and the nation has the duty to co-operate with and support the police in their heavy task. If this debate helps to achieve the fulfilment of that duty it will have been supremely worthwhile.
§ 4.6 p.m.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, I crave your Lordships' indulgence in addressing you for the first time. I have not previously addressed such an august assembly, my main speeches so far having been made to councils of the rural district in which I lived in the past. I address your Lord-ships in no contentious manner, but merely as a quite humble person exercising his right, like all citizens, to be worried. I have been most reassured to hear the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, telling us of so much of what the Government are doing, which in many ways is a continuation of what the late Government were doing.
We are, I think, living in an age of moral decline. At the same time, speaking simply, I am still amazed at how much honesty there is all around one, in any place to which one goes. Often, if you leave behind a cigarette case or something in a wayside café or somewhere else, someone will run after you and say: "You have left this behind". Then there is the loyalty which criminals display to each other, which in itself is a good thing; and this loyalty must be harnessed to education. Prevention and punishment come into this, too.
I should like to draw your Lordships' attention quite briefly to a few points on prevention, which I hope you will agree is the most important aspect, because it will enable the police to concentrate on their real duties of catching the criminals, and will enable costs to be cut down. In this day and age, children are being educated better and 179 faster. We know about their I.Q.s, and they are encouraged. The Army, the Air Force, the Navy and industry are educating people to all sorts of technical possibilities which would have amazed past generations. At the same time, we are living in an age where luxury and comforts exist to a degree where they can be enjoyed by all. We know that the Jones family has to be kept up with, and it is, indeed, an unhappy man who cannot give his wife and his children what he thinks they want. This leads, in certain cases, to a desire to get something for nothing, if the man is not able to do it by the sweat of his brow and by honest work.
This is a state that is hard to deal with, and education is the obvious answer. The noble Lord opposite, speaking on another subject recently, talked about "being with it"; and he said he was not over-impressed by this epithet and was not taken by the idea. "Being with it" has come to have many meanings, and in many people's eyes it seems to be a general debunking of standards which have been upheld in the past—namely, the standards of religion and of morals: everything in authority is something to be laughed at. Intellectuals on television and on the wireless pamper to this, and we all listen with amusement. Yet, at the same time, it must have a very warping influence on young people, listening to this continual debunking of all which has been, and ought to be, respected. Therefore, one has to ask that all people in authority should encourage the television companies to do their best to discourage the worst form of this debunking. The lack of control by parents, and the control of children in school are points with which your Lordships are all familiar, and I do not intend to deal with those.
That leads me, on the question of prevention, to the aspect concerning the security of premises. Here I must declare an interest. I have been concerned, for many years, and am still, with a large security organisation. While on this subject, I would mention that these security organisations never think of themselves, and do not like the idea of being thought of, as in any way taking the place of the police. They are simply auxiliaries doing things for individuals and com- 180 panies which they would, or should, otherwise do for themselves. I say this very feelingly, because often one has heard: "Oh, yes, you think of yourselves as police" But no security company I have known does this. They are helping people to guard their organisations, and I think the police are grateful to know that so many people, who have been screened, are doing a job of work, making their job easier.
I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, who raised the point that banks were not being particularly co-operative in helping the workers of this country with wage packets to open bank accounts. This is due to the state of mind of the individuals. All the unions have given consent, and the banks have in principle, to payment by cheque, money order, or in any other way in which it can be done. One big concern in Oxfordshire tried for a fortnight, with every sort of educational film and "gimmick" which your Lordships can imagine, to persuade the workers to open bank accounts. The banks were willing to open a bank on the premises. After two weeks hard, intensive application of this sort, only 5 per cent. of the factory workers opted for it; and after two more months all but a mere handful had asked to go back to being paid in cash. The solution to this problem depends on the individual man. If he will take his money by cheque, everyone will be happy.
The co-operation of the public and industry is essential. When you get the public helping each other, all is well. The public must be taught to help the police; and industry must put its house in order. I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to some recommendations which have been made in a place called Oakdale in California. I must apologise to your Lordships, because I do not know exactly how large this community is, but I expect that, being out there, it will be quite a considerable size. An interesting recommendation has been made by the authorities there to empower the police to go into premises and make suggestions which have to be carried out. This has cut down the incidence of crime in Oakdale. Perhaps there is scope here for examining the feasibility of a study group to go into this sort of problem.
181 Some things are already being done. I think I am right in saying that the Chief Constable of Hampshire, for instance, said, in May of this year that his force, by voluntary arrangement with people and firms, had carried out over 2,000 inspections of premises in the Isle of Wight. His report was rather interesting. He said that 70 per cent. had adopted the police suggestions, 20 per cent. had partially adopted them, and 10 per cent. had totally disregarded them—they were too mean, too short-sighted. Now there you have direct inducement to crime. That is what should be discouraged by all Parties. Thinking about this, I wonder whether it would be possible for the Government to give some sort of aid to property owners, merchants and shopkeepers, to bring their security arrangements up to standard. This could lead to economy, in that the police forces would not be needed so much; because, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, prevention by making your premises secure is really the ideal answer.
Penal reform has done nothing to prevent the creation of criminality in the first place; therefore the Government must seek to identify and eliminate the conditions which breed this criminality. This will take time. Therefore it is the short-term solution which we are after. Responsible organisations, such as the Press and Television, which I have mentioned already, and education in schools, must be used to protect the police from continual sniping. Is enough being done? Are the leaders of our great Parties really protecting the police enough? When I was small, the policeman was still a friendly figure to all people. Is he still? An interesting little book has been published recently called Nick of Notting Hill, written by Antony Richardson, about P.C. Nixon of the Metropolitan Police and what he did to help in that area. Many of the things he did were outside his official working time. He became friendly with the children in Notting Hill, and this did a great deal of good. When the children regard the police as their friends, you are halfway to winning this war—and it is a war.
I would mention one difficulty now, with some slight anxiety, because I do not want my remarks to be taken wrong. I got this information from friends of mine who have been in the police force. 182 They told me that they are very worried by difficulties which are put in the way of the police force by illegal procedures. They feel that the changes of Judges' Rules—I do not deem to judge whether they are right or wrong—have made their task more difficult. They consider that their task is to get at the truth. It is now hard to do this. One eminent ex-policeman said to me. "We must all support the letter of the law, but in my experience it has always been essential to bend that letter a little bit. "In the last war, which most of your Lordships went through, this was often found to be true—that "bending the letter a little bit" is sometimes essential. If it gets bent too much, we must accept that fact and do our best to stop it, but not have a howl against the whole of the police force. These are exceptions.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Shawcross, said recently that we cling to a sentimental and sporting attitude of liberty before the promotion of justice. Safeguards must be necessary for the innocent, and the police at the same time should have the right to demand that the path they tread must be clearly defined to lead to a just result for the community. At the moment, suspected people can refuse all information, even their names, before they are cautioned and warned that they may have their solicitors and advisers present. This makes it very hard for the police. I do not know whether this is in itself essential. I merely say that these policemen feel that it is hard on them. In the same way witnesses can almost refuse to give any information at all. Again, this makes it hard for the police.
Turning to recruitment of the police, I was pleased to see that the Home Secretary had said that in 1964 6,000 recruits had been taken on, and I think he said that this year we are doing better. This is good news, and what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said was good news as well. As to better educated police, last November what is known as a reputable Sunday newspaper stated that of the 75,000 policemen serving only 28 had attended university and not all of those had graduated. We hope that in the next few decades the picture will be quite different. One point I have noted in regard to the police is that the great wastage that occurs is chiefly due to the 183 policemen's wives disliking the enormous amount of night work that has to be done. Here, again, we come back to the point of greater security of premises leading to fewer break-ins, and therefore fewer police would be needed. It all goes round in a circle.
One matter concerning the police which has not been mentioned is that they now face greater dangers. May I give a few more figures? In 1964 in the London area there were 172 indictable offences committed with firearms, and outside London there were 559 such indictable offences. These are terrifying figures. The control of firearms is obviously essential. The police must be made happy, and I hope the Government will be able to give a lead in encouragement to the public for the better securing of premises.
§ 4.23 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, it is my pleasure to express, on behalf of your Lordships, my congratulations to the noble Lord who has just spoken, on a really remarkable maiden speech. It showed that in this complex subject he has drawn a great deal on personal experience, and he has given us a most interesting review of the situation. I think that the noble Lord was present yesterday afternoon, and he has obviously learned one of the lessons of this House which we are still learning ourselves; namely, how to compress a great deal of information into a small number of words. I hope that we shall hear from him on many occasions in the future.
I realise that the importance of this subject ought to be balanced, at least by us on the Side-Benches, by a recognition of the self-denying ordinance which the House passed upon itself yesterday afternoon. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for initiating this debate. The public disquiet, to which he refers in his Motion, is indeed widespread. On the other hand, I think it fair to say that the disquiet varies according to the quarter from which it comes. I do not think the public always respond entirely logically to this kind of situation. They are apt to pick on certain figures which are quoted without examining the full statistics. Moreover, the public are often swayed by incidents reported in the Press. A successful bank robbery, or a bout of 184 hooliganism at a seaside resort, is likely to build up a picture in the public mind which is quite unbalanced. I fear at present that the whole attitude of the younger generation has been unduly coloured by certain aspects which appear in the statistics under consideration.
I suppose also that the public, in their disquiet, tend to react in an emotional way. People are apt to think that the immediate answer to any rise in crime is to apply more and heavier repressive measures, and we all know how tempting it is for people to find some satisfaction for their own fears or frustrations by imposing more savage penalties upon those who may happen to come within their reach. The figures are, indeed, most disquieting, particularly the rise in the number of crimes of violence to the person, which more directly threaten the safety of the citizen and suggest an open defiance of the law; and the incidence of crime among young people augurs ill not only for the present but for the future. On the other hand, I hope that the public disquiet in regard to these facts will not suggest any kind of panic reaction to them. In the first place, we do not want to set back the slow but encouraging process of reforming the penal system and the new insights that we have into the care and cure, and causes, of crime.
The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, is not here this afternoon, but I have no doubt that he will speak to us on a later occasion when this wider side of the subject is developed. I, for one, should like to acknowledge the tremendous debt we owe to him for his leadership in this whole field. An unemotional approach to crime, however grave the crime, seems to be an aspect of our culture of which we ought to be proud. It is one of the fruits of our Christian tradition, with its emphasis on the value of the individual and our mutual responsibility in society. I fancy that the public are apt to worry their head more about the ways in which crime can be kept under control, or at least out of sight, than about the causes of crime. I notice that the noble Lord said, rightly, that in the public mind there is a real distinction between the crimes that happen and are reported in the papers and what happens behind closed doors. This may be true, but it is quite unjust; for the public 185 have as much responsibility, not only for the keeping of the law outside but for those who, under the power of the law, they put behind bars. However, I do not want to dwell on this side of the question. The matter has been much more ably dealt with already.
May I underline three aspects of this matter which have already been mentioned? On the preventive side, if an ordinary member of the public were to look at the criminal statistics for 1963 (and they have been borne out in increasing measure in such figures as we have for last year) he would be inclined to fasten not only on a particular type of crime but even more on the fact that such a large proportion—more than half, in fact—have not been detected or brought to book. This seems to be the most disquieting aspect of the whole affair. I am sure that Macbeth was quite right:How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done!People are more likely to be deterred, not by the size of the penalty but by the lively expectation that whatever they do, they will be brought to book for it.
We have listened with great interest to the steps outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, as to what the Government arc hoping to do to implement the Police Act and to step up the forces of law and order. To me the most gravely disquieting thing of all is not just the rise in figures, but the fact that we are not in a position to cope with them because of a shortage of police. There are many measures which will take a long time to bear fruit. Unfortunately I was not able to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, said, but he referred to the relationship of the public to the police. I think that the public have an ambivalent attitude towards the police, in spite of the popularity of "Z Cars". We want their protection, but we tend to resent their attentions; and all too often the police, I suspect, rather like the parson, form a section of the community whose proper discharge of duty goes without notice and is taken for granted, but whose occasional lapses from duty receive more than proportionate prominence.
If this is the case, a new image or a new relationship must be built up between the police and the public. I 186 am interested to hear of the autumn campaign that has been outlined. I hope very much that the campaign will not deal primarily with posters and things in print. I believe that confrontation, face to face, as it were, of police and public, so that they can see them, hear them, realise that they are human beings, is a very important point here. Too often, through the particular requirements of their duties, the police have to live a life quite separate from the ordinary community, which tends to breed ignorance or suspicion and may militate against proper recruitment.
Much has been said about the desperate need for further recruitment and any steps, in terms of money or otherwise, required for it. May I mention, briefly, two other points? The first is that, even though this debate does so, I hope that we shall not wholly separate the question of deterrent from the question of the reformatory aspect of this problem. For in my view they cannot be separated. We hope that there will be more police and that they will deter more, but also that they will detect more. There will be more people to be looked after and dealt with by the courts, and to receive some punishment, whether inside prison or outside. That will mean a good deal of further outlay, not only on the police but on buildings, perhaps, on probation officers, and all the ancillary services.
Moreover, many of these offenders, if the present trend continues, will be young offenders. All this means that we cannot delay our concern for the proper treatment that will not only do justice to them and to the public but ensure, so far as possible, that they do not return to their crimes. I hope that the Government will assure us that they will not be tempted to do anything that would get in the way of any steps which may be proposed by the present Royal Commission on the Penal System, and I hope that we shall soon know how soon that Commission will be reporting.
There are a number of matters on which the Government should take action but which will not bear immediate fruit. Therefore, I wonder how far they come into the "near future" phrase. I take, for instance, what seems to me a very valuable piece of legislation, for which the present Government, I think, cannot 187 claim credit, the Children and Young Persons Act, 1963, which prescribes new duties in the area of preventing children from developing tendencies that might later become criminal, and lays those duties upon the local authority. No doubt it is too early to estimate what kind of result that will have, or how far local authorities will need encouragement or stimulus from the Government in order to carry those out. But if we can deal with children when they are very young, this seems one of the preventive steps which, though it will not produce immediate results, may, in the long run, have great importance.
There is one further aspect to which I would refer. The action which the Government might contemplate in relation to crime cannot, I think, be confined only to specifically criminal measures. I believe that we must examine a great deal of our social legislation in the light of this need. All social legislation which is designed to improve human standards of living, education and so on, is no doubt, in a way, a step to diminish crime. But it does not necessary follow that it is. A surprising fact is that this rise in crime to-day is not clearly confined to this country; it is to some extent a world phenomenon. I know that it is no satisfaction to a victim in London to think that his counterpart in New York or Tokyo is equally exposed to the same danger. But here is something that is part of our modern world; even further, it seems to be a fact that crime rises most in countries where there is greater affluence.
This is a strange and perplexing fact. It would seem as if modern society, in the very process of removing some of the curses of the past, in the process of getting more affluent, (contains within itself certain definite flaws. I think that the acquisitive society may encourage dissatisfaction, discontent and envy. I suppose that the general result which we are witnessing is a decline in personal responsibility and a feeling that the individual in modern society is just one of the masses who does not matter very much to anybody except himself and is under no obligation to anyone except himself. If people, especially young people, are tempted to feel like this, they are inclined to seek their satisfactions in 188 lawless ways. I hope (this is obviously not the time to develop this aspect) that the Government will be sensitive not only to possible legislation immediately related to the crime situation and its prevention, but also to the effects of other social legislation upon the human person and his own growth in personal responsibility.
How far, for instance does education teach not only knowledge but personal relations—how to live together? How far do welfare services not only administer to our needs, generally our very real material needs, but also strengthen self-respect? How far, for instance, does new housing, so desperately needed, aim not only at housing people but at making new communities, even though they may be slow to grow—for in some places it is the decline of community life with which we are faced? Some of the best things that society is attempting to do to-day may have this repercussion; they may be doing something to diminish the sense of human responsibility and human personality. I hope, therefore, that the Government will have this aspect in mind, and perhaps encourage study and discussion of this field, in order that we may, in the long term, begin to find some answer to what seems to be a curse spreading over the world.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, it was about this time a week ago to-day that I rose to crave your Lordships' indulgence for my maiden speech. I had been led to believe that, having made one's maiden speech, one's second speech was always much easier, but having regard to the debate which took place yesterday I am not so sure. If the noble Lord, Lord Denham, saw me in the library today working hard it was because I was trying to reduce the length of my speech in the light of yesterday's discussion. Whether I have succeeded the clock, of course, will show. As I reminded your Lordships last week, I am used to speaking for 45 minutes, but I assure you I will not be nearly as long as that to-day.
The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, obviously enjoyed himself twisting the tail of the Government. I wonder if he will mind if I pull his a little. As a new-comer to your Lordships' House, I could have been forgiven if, in listening to Lord Derwent's opening speech, I had come 189 to the conclusion that most of our problems in the field of crime have occurred since last October. I would remind the noble Lord that criminal statistics rose pretty steeply year by year in the last thirteen years during the last Administration, and that the problems which he has referred to to-day have been with us for a considerable time. We have, however, to remember that crime attracts the attention of the Press, and it of course helps the circulation of a good many newspapers. But it results in certain types of crime receiving undue attention, emphasis which is often out of all proportion to the facts.
I should like to emphasise what the right reverend Prelate said a moment or two ago that crime is increasing throughout the whole world. All the developing countries are experiencing an increase in crime, and not just this country, although that fact can be of little comfort to any of us. But it is paradoxical that in countries where general progress is more rapid there is a greater increase in crime. I think we have to face the fact that it is difficult to gauge just how serious the situation is in this country. Statistics are available in full measure, but they reveal only that part of the iceberg which we can see. For various reasons, it is not possible to get a complete record of the number of crimes committed, because of the growing tendency on the part of employers not to prosecute employees, and the fact that the police themselves are simply cautioning more and more offenders. At this stage I should like to say this: whether this action of the police is good is debatable, but I view with some concern the growing tendency of the police to act in the double rôle of judge and prosecutor.
The Cambridge Institute of Criminology, which has made, and continues to make, a most valuable contribution to the study of crime, has, in a recent study, found in industry an unwillingness on the part of employers to prosecute employees for stealing from their firm, from its customers or from one another, and this means that the crime statistics do not give a true picture. But, having said that, I think we are in danger of overstating the criminal situation. Again, I should like to refer to what the right reverend Prelate said with regard to detection. The disturbing fact—and we have to face it—is in relation to those who are able to avoid detection. Before the war the 190 police were able to solve about 50 per cent. of all offences; to-day the percentage is less. This means that the offender has at least a 50–50 chance, as he knows, of "getting away with it"
In considering the volume of crime, we have to recognise that new laws can add to or reduce the statistics. The Street Offences Act, which has swept prostitutes off the streets, has not solved the problem of prostitution; but we have no, or very few, convictions for prostitution. The Gaming Act has made it unnecessary for us to have street bookmakers, so we get no convictions in that particular field. But there is a growing tendency to bring more and more people before the courts. I want to say quite seriously that some offences of violence involving domestic disputes, neighbourhood disputes, public-house and cafe brawls, which formerly would have ended quite happily (I say this advisedly) without police intervention, arc now brought before the courts and shown as part of the crime picture. I think we can overdo this.
Those who are familiar with the problem stemming from the criminal situation will realise that there is, as I admit, no quick solution to this grave social problem. No doubt more offenders would be apprehended if we had a much larger police force. But, let us face it, our society could not exist from an economic point of view if a substantially higher percentage of its male population were in blue.
I wanted to make one or two suggestions, but the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has forestalled me. I wanted to recommend that we introduce automation into the fingerprint department of Scotland Yard, but he has got there before me. The many problems which criminality presents cannot be solved solely by changing the penal system. We should be living in a fool's paradise if we felt that by changing the penal system a great deal of change in crime would result. We know that our penal institutions are not so very successful when it comes to reforming the criminal, and I think we have to face the unpleasant fact that their rates of success are declining. Two out of three borstal boys are reconvicted. Nor do I think that position would he greatly improved by merely strengthening the police, or imposing longer or more severe prison sentences. The real thing that 191 we have to do is to find out more about the offender and what makes him the anti-social being that he is. Dr. Glover, the eminent psychiatrist, once said—and I quote:The problem of society is to tame a half-wild animal—namely, man.He was not far wrong.
In spite of all that has been done to date, we know little about the criminal—whether he is born or bred, whether it is solely a question of heredity or of environment, or a combination of both. I want to say to your Lordships to-day that we may have to accept the fact that some people are born with a possible biological predisposition to become a criminal. The gaps in our knowledge of criminal behaviour are such that more research is needed—is, in fact, essential. What is being done is, in some measure, haphazard, unco-ordinated, insufficient and inadequate.
The Cambridge Institute of Criminology has proved an outstanding success, and its researches into the field of criminality and the publications which have come from the Institute have proved a valuable contribution to the understanding of this complicated subject. The apparent weakness is that we need several more such institutes, and I hope the noble Earl, Lord Longford, will be able to say that that will be possible. Criminal activity is not solely socio-economically determined, and this means that the criminologist and the psychiatrist must work closer together. While we cannot ignore the importance of psycho-pathology, I do not think that the scientific study of delinquency is primarily a matter for the medical profession. We have to bring together all the experts in the different fields if we are to make any headway whatsoever in the understanding of the criminal. Also, we must assess the role that illiteracy plays in criminality.
I was interested to learn that the Home Office have recently approved a pilot scheme in one of the borstal institutions for the introduction of the initial teaching alphabet owing to illiteracy among the borstal inmates. Illiteracy may have a much closer identification with crime than many people at present realise. For a person to be law-abiding he must be amenable to conditioning. It is essen- 192 tial that society should provide the right kind of climate for such conditioning. This means—and I want to emphasise this—that we have to see in advance the possible outcome of any new legislation. Some of our recent legislation has not been helpful, and we must ask ourselves whether such Acts as the Gaming Act 1960 have created the right kind of conditioning for the good behaviour and personal responsibility to which the right reverent Prelate referred.
Britain now has more gambling facilities than any other country in the world. We can now boast, if it is a matter for boasting, that we have more betting shops in this country than we have banks—over 15,000 of them. Our betting bill is more than twice our education budget. Bingo clubs have over 14 million members. Casino members now exceed the one million mark. Social clubs feed over £14 million in sixpences every year into "one-armed bandits". As a result of betting shops more people than ever before in our history bet on horses and greyhounds. At least half the population of this country bets at some time during the year. The Church Commission on Gambling estimates that we spend over £1,000 million annually on gambling. This has been made possible by the Gaming Act 1960 and, together with premium bonds and the resulting philosophy of getrich-quick and getting something for nothing, this is not conducive to responsible behaviour within the community. I want to go so far as to ask the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, this: whether the Administration of which he was part is proud of such an Act?
As a former probation officer, I am concerned with the treatment of delinquency and of delinquents. I should like to refer to the probation service, which since 1907 has played, and will continue to play, an important part in the treatment of deliquency. About 40,000 delinquents are placed on probation annually in this country, 10 per cent. of them, 4,000, in the London area. From the moment the probation order is made the probation officer assumes the role of guide, philosopher and friend to the probationer. He supervises the delinquent for a period not exceeding three years. The probation officer has been described as the general practitioner in the field of delinquency. He is a case-worker who 193 is concerned with the wants and needs, and all that that implies, and the thoughts and feelings of the probationer. The probation officer is very lucky, indeed he is very fortunate, if he only has a case load of 60 probationers, for case loads generally speaking are not light. But, in addition to all this, he is required to do matrimonial work to assist people in distress, to be responsible for money payments of persons who have been fined and placed under his supervision until the money is paid; and also he is responsible for the general social work of the courts.
But it does not stop there. In addition, the probation officer is required to undertake after-care and supervision of persons discharged from approved schools, borstals and prisons. It means that, having regard to all the work he has to do, the amount of time he has to give to each individual delinquent is precious little. It has been calculated by people who are in a position to make such a calculation that, on the average, it is probably not much more than an hour or so per month for each delinquent. In that hour or so the probation officer has to try to help the delinquent to understand himself, to cope with his feelings of aggression, to come to terms with society and to accept his own limitations. I think your Lordships will agree that this is an impossible task in the time available. The success of the Probation Service is due not only to the skill and competence of the probation officer but to his devotion and dedication. The Probation Service has, I think, pride of place in our treatment of delinquents.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I have the honour of being the first Member of the House to interrupt the noble Lord? I should like to put this question to the noble Lord, who I know is such a tremendous expert on the Probation Service. Is it really the fact that the average would work out at only one hour per month per delinquent, taking a case load of 60 or 70?
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
I am obliged to the noble Earl for giving me an opportunity of emphasising what I have already said. I was saying that, taking into account all the work he has to do, apart from his probation work, it is doubtful, if he has a case load of 60, 194 whether he can give much more than one hour per month to each delinquent.
The Probation Service has pride of place in our treatment of delinquents, and I believe that any approved treatment system in the future must rely more and more on the Probation Service. Yet its members are among the worst paid of our social workers. Some local authorities, in order to get child care officers and workers, are offering a very attractive salary scale, plus £100 for late work. This is a very nice phrase. It means overtime; but if you are a professionally trained social worker you do not do overtime, but "late work". Probation officers work unlimited hours, as I can tell your Lordships from my personal experience, and cannot make any overtime claim. I would urge the noble Earl, Lord Longford—and I say this with great respect—to give immediate attention to the needs of the Probation Service and to examine the work and responsibilities of probation officers, so that some arrangement of their responsibilities can be made in order that they can devote more time to each individual delinquent.
I am a member of the Inner London Probation Committee, which is responsible for the appointment of probation officers and the supervision of the Probation Service. In that area at the moment ten probation officers have handed in their resignations from the Inner London service; they leave in September. This represents about 4 per cent. of the Inner London probation staff. They have resigned, in the main, because they cannot afford to live in the London area where rents, fares and general living expenses are considerably higher than in any other city. Only two of the ten are remaining in the Probation Service, and they are going to probation services in other counties. The remaining eight are leaving the Probation Service, two in order to do further study. But this situation means that the majority of these officers, who have been specially selected and carefully trained for probation work, will be lost to the Probation Service. This situation could have been avoided if only the Home Secretary had used his powers to give probation officers an increase in the London weighting, to help them meet the additional cost of living and working in the London area.
195 For your Lordships' information the London weighting at present is £40 a year, if the probation officer is under 29 years of age, and £45 a year if he is over 29 years of age. The position, as I understand it, is that the Home Secretary can himself order an increase in the amount of the London weighting, but I am informed that he prefers to leave the question of any increase to the joint negotiating committee. If there were a substantial increase in the London weighting—and I mean substantial—I am sure that it would prevent an exodus from the Inner London Probation Service. Before the end of the year there are likely to be more probation officers leaving the Inner London Probation Service, either to leave the service altogether or to remain in the Probation Service, but somewhere else in the country. And I would remind your Lordships that 10 per cent. of the probation orders that are made in this country—namely, 4,000—are made in the London area.
While there is no single cause of crime, I believe that we need to look at what is happening to family life at the present moment, because I think we all realise and agree that the bad family is a liability to society and that the good family is an asset. I suggest that the supreme cause of had family life is the broken marriage, where the husband-wife relationship has ceased and where neither partner is able to exercise any influence for good in the family. I am not suggesting for one moment that all delinquents stem from the broken marriage, but I am saying that a substantial percentage do. I do not think anyone knowing the situation would deny that the breakdown of family life provides both delinquent and deprived children—two of the grave social problems of the present time. We are all too familiar with the growing problems of juvenile delinquency, so there is no need for me to make reference to them; but we have over 65,000 children in care— not all of them, I agree, from broken homes—costing society over £26 million a year. It costs us £26 million a year to maintain the children's services in this country.
The recent report of the Lord Chancellor's Committee on the operation of the Legal Aid Scheme points out that 196 between £4 and £5 million is spent every year on providing legal aid to people seeking divorce or separation. In comparison, we spend very little on helping couples who want assistance to overcome their marriage problems, so that their marriage can be preserved. The civil judicial statistics for the last year, 1964, show that the number of matrimonial petitions filed that year exceeded 41,000—an increase of over 4,000 on the previous year. The number of decrees granted was in excess of 35,000.
That means, my Lords, that every year thousands of children are being orphaned by divorce, uprooted at a time in their lives when they should feel loved, wanted and secure. These things are so very important in the development of a child, and often determine whether that child is going to be a good citizen or whether he or she is to become a delinquent. There is no one in your Lordships' House who can stand up and honestly say that he does not care whether he is wanted or loved. The desire to be wanted, to be loved, is with us from the cradle to the grave: it never leaves us; and if it is so important at our age, how much more important is it to a child? How many of us know what happens to a child, or children, when a marriage terminates in separation or divorce? It is no good saying, as so many people do, "Well children are resilient. They can stand anything" Those of us who have worked in the field, and who have to deal with them, know that many of them cannot stand the outcome of a broken marriage.
I am not opposed to divorce, but let us be quite frank about it. The Divorce Court has become a mortuary for dead marriages; and while it puts to an end a number of thoroughly bad marriages every year—and I concede that point—it also terminates a large number of potentially good ones. A progressive, developing society does not need a mortuary for dead marriages; it needs a hospital service.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE EARL OF LONGFORD)
My Lords, the noble Lord may or may not be right in intervening along those lines, but he must not address the noble Lord directly. 197 He must refer to him in the third person if he wants to be a stickler.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
I am sorry; perhaps somebody would give me guidance. Am I limited to 25 minutes?
If the noble Lord had been present in the debate yesterday he would have known about it.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
So far as I know, no decision was arrived at yesterday as to what length speeches should be in future. There was no Motion before your Lordships' House.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I would appeal to the noble Lord to finish his speech. I think the interventions were entirely good-humoured, and I think many of us felt that after years in the Probation Service the noble Lord was at liberty to speak at some little length about the vital work those people are doing.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
If it is your Lordships' wish, I will do so. I was saying that a progressive, developing society needs a hospital service for sick marriages. Happily, I believe that we have this in the work which is being done in the marriage guidance councils throughout the country, which I think are making quite a contribution to a solution of this problem of delinquency. It is a new form of social service, and perhaps I ought to disclose at this point that I have an interest, as I am one of the founders of the national Marriage Guidance Council. But I think I ought to point out to your Lordships that there are three organisations working in this field: the national Marriage Guidance Council, the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council and the Family Discussion Bureau, and between them—and I stress "between them"—they receive £46,000 a year by way of Government grant. In other words, for 198 every £100 that we spend on providing Legal Aid for divorce and separation to help terminate marriages, we spend £1 on trying to save marriages.
We spend millions of pounds every year, dealing with the social and personal problems stemming from broken marriages, but we give what amounts to only a pittance to those organisations which are trying to strengthen and preserve family life. I suggest that we have got our values all wrong—seriously wrong—when we can provide £100 to help terminate marriages but can provide only £1 to help to preserve marriages. Again, I ask the noble Lord whether something more can be done to help these three organisations which are doing, I think, a piece of work which is designed to help us in the prevention of delinquency. If we are going to come to grips with delinquency, we must fight it on several fronts, and one of them is to do everything that we can to preserve family life.
§ 5.11 p.m.
My Lords, I think that my noble friend Lord Derwent has performed a great service in introducing this debate this afternoon. If I might, I should like to pay tribute to the particular wording of his Motion, for he has called attention not merely to crime, to the severity of crime or to the frequency of crime, but to the increase in it, and it is this increase that is so alarming. If one wished for any evidence with regard to the increase in crime, one could refer to the answers which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, gave to two Parliamentary questions which I asked him at the end of April and the beginning of May, in which he stated that the figures, for England and Wales, for crimes of violence in which firearms were used, for the four years beginning 1961 were, respectively, 552 in 1961, 588 in 1962, 578 in 1963 and 731 in 1964.
In the Metropolitan Police District, for the three months beginning November 1 in each of the same years, the figures for crimes of violence in which firearms were used were, respectively, 27, 28, 10 and 52. In those 52 cases, proceedings have been taken against only 18 people—not even 18 cases. The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, said, I think, that the criminal has a 50 per cent. chance of getting away with it; but according to those particular figures he has two chances out of three of getting away 199 with it. Of course, those figures refer only to crimes where firearms were used, which are presumably the worst types of crime. I realise that statistics, particularly where crime is concerned, must be taken with a great deal of care, but I think one can fairly say that the trend which they indicate is definitely for the worse.
The one thing about which I believe we should all agree is the fact that the public have the right to be reasonably and adequately protected from crime, and the fact that the situation is deteriorating must give cause for great anxiety, for it shows that the preventive system which we have at the moment is not working adequately. The question, of course, is: why is it not? If there were an easy answer to that question, then, of course, there would be no problem. At the outset, I must confess that I have certain views as to why the system is not working, and they would differ markedly from those expressed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester. He said that he very much hoped that penalties for crimes would not be increased, and he stated in his argument that, as crimes were on the increase in all civilised countries, this was almost a fact with which we had to live.
I believe that in certain instances the penalties for crimes should be markedly increased. The noble Earl the Leader of the House may well say that the most effective deterrent to crime is certainty of detection, and I would go a very long way in agreement with him; and if certainty of detection is the most effective deterrent, then the police forces should be strengthened and encouraged. This, of course, is perfectly true; but one must openly admit that the chances of the police forces being increased to anything like the extent necessary to combat this rise in crime are extremely small. Severity of punishment, I believe, is equally an effective deterrent, and in this worsening situation all measures possible should be taken to protect the public. I urgently ask Her Majesty's Government to look at this problem afresh with a view to increasing substantially the penalties applicable to crime, especially crimes against the person.
I am aware how invidious it is to try to categorise crimes or criminals, because 200 there is no clear demarcation line in crime; there is no black or white, but merely various shades of grey. It is therefore a trifle invidious to try to categorise, but I wish to do so on this occasion in order to simplify the issue and to make my point. Basically, crimes nowadays can be put into two categories. The first is made up of those which are committed by the man who has entered or is about to enter a life of crime. There may be all sorts of circumstances which promote him to do this: his home, his background, his upbringing, his friends, his emotional set-up and so forth.
The other category is made up of those which are committed by the fundamentally normal person who has decided to disregard or to flout the law for the fun of it or for his own self-gratification. This is not so much crime in the normal sense of the word as lawlessness, and it is usually, but not always, I admit, committed by people between the ages of 16 and 26. It is this type of person whose presence in society is so much on the increase and who commits crimes which are totally unnecessary and yet which can be vicious and malicious in the extreme. It is the type of person who will kick and punch people, knife them, beat them up, throw bottles at them or kick them in the face—the type of person who will do this for no other reason, apparently, than the purpose of inflating his own ego in the sight of his friends, saying that he does not worry about the law as he can pay any fines which are imposed upon him, who takes pride in doing so and who is not worried by a prison sentence.
It is this type of person against whom I wish to see society protected, and who is, I respectfully suggest, dealt with inadequately at present. These people do not require, and I do not believe it is correct for them to receive, the more remedial forms of treatment which are sometimes offered to people who commit crimes. Here I should like to explain quite emphatically that I am in favour of these forms of remedial treatment. I am in favour of them when they are directed aright, but I do not think that they are necessarily the correct answer to all cases.
I believe that there is a strong argument for the courts to be given the power, where they consider it necessary, to order the use of corporal punishment for these 201 types of cases. One can read examples of these cases in the papers almost any day. I would direct your Lordships' attention to an article in The Times only last Wednesday, and I would trespass upon your Lordships' time for a few minutes to read a few excerpts from it:Two youths who 'shot up' 22 people with a high-powered 0.22 air rifle from a moving car were alleged by the police … to have said: 'We did it for a lark'. Fifteen of the injured were hit on a Sunday afternoon drive through north Staffordshire on June 20, and seven after a drinking session the night before. The two youths, both sheet-metal workers, … were sent to a detention centre for three months.The person who was driving the car on that Sunday afternoon when the fifteen people were injured asked for fourteen offences to be taken into consideration. He was fined £30 and put on probation for two years. The driver of the car on the evening before was given two years probation and fined £10. I would merely ask: how long are we to be expected to tolerate this form of treatment of the public by people who admittedly go out and do it "for a lark"? Why should 22 members of the public be not only endangered but actually injured because four youths wish to go out "for a lark" at their expense?
The newspaper report continues:Detective-inspector R. Hughes said that among the victims were the school boy son of a policeman, a teenage girl who needed an operation to remove a slug from her leg, and a woman aged 73I am aware of the danger of criticising sentences when one has not heard the whole of the case, but I would say merely that this type of sentence for this type of crime is totally inadequate in itself and also totally inadequate to afford the protection of the public or their confidence in the fact that the public should be protected.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, while we would all share the noble Earl's abhorrence of the kind of crime that he is describing, I would point out, as he himself implied, that it is a matter for the courts, having heard the whole circumstances of the case, to decide the punishment. In most of the cases that the noble Earl mentioned the punishments were not the maximum that could have been awarded.
The noble Lord is, of course, right. Had he contained himself a little longer, I was about to say that I know that the argument is put forward that it is for Parliament to make the laws and for the courts to carry them out. With that view I am in agreement. My point is that I should like to see the courts given stronger powers and, for certain cases, alternative powers; because in the cases that I have quoted the certainty of detection prevailed but the severity of punishment did not.
I would ask Her Majesty's Government what are their views, or their intentions, about protecting the public, for instance, from vandalism on the railways, where people are prepared to put bricks, sleepers or lumps of concrete on the lines for the sole purpose of derailing trains in circumstances where not only are the lives of the public endangered but in some cases have actually been lost. It is this type of crime that needs to be considered most carefully in the future.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I hope the noble Earl will forgive me for interrupting again. He is aware, as I know, because he raised the matter with me, that crimes of vandalism on railway lines have, in fact, shown a decrease and that they are committed mainly by quite young children. With regard to the steps that the Government are taking, the noble Earl is aware of the considerable penalties in the Firearms Act of up to ten years or, at the least, of twelve months for the kind of offences he has described.
My Lords, I am well aware that crimes on the railways have not increased; but that does not mean to say that the methods for preventing these crimes are adequate. Because clearly they are not. Otherwise, these instances about which we have been reading during the last three or four months would not have occurred. With great respect to the noble Lord, it is not sufficient to say that these crimes have not increased, and that therefore the status quo is adequate. I submit that it is not.
§ LORD STONHAM
I had said that the crimes had decreased. The noble Earl is aware of this, because I gave him the figures this week. Perhaps he would like to quote them. From my recollection, 203 the last available figures show that they are now about one-third what they were about three years ago.
I would refer the noble Lord—and this is only fair—to the remark I made at the beginning of my speech, when I quoted some fairly pungent statistics. I said that when quoting statistics they should be taken with a grain of salt. The mere fact that the crimes have decreased should not provide a sense of satisfaction for the powers that be. The fact is that certain acts are done on railway lines, and may cause very great danger to life—and in fact some people have been killed.
The point I wish to make is: what do the Government intend to do? What measures do the Government intend to take to try to prevent these acts? The right reverent prelate the Bishop of Chichester said that the penalties should not be increased, and that we ought to have more research into trying to find the causes of crime. That is true. But that is a long-term point of view: I wish to see something done in the short term to counteract what is a very grave increase in crime. I should be the first to agree that this is no simple problem. Of course, it is not. I realise that the views which I have expressed may not travel in complete harmony with those of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, or with those of the noble Earl the Leader of the House. Nevertheless I hope that they realise that I have given my views, which I hold with sincerity. This is a problem with which we should all be concerned. It is a problem which I suggest, with respect, should not be surrounded too much by statistics.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ LORD WILLIS
My Lords, I too, should like to add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for putting down this Motion and for giving us the opportunity to discuss it. I should like to concentrate my few remarks on the question of the police force itself. The fact that I do so in no way detracts from my full agreement with what the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, said about research into the motivation of crime, which I think is vital and important. May I say that I shall try to be as brief as possible and I shall be perfectly happy if noble 204 Lords are good enough to shout "Egremont" at me if I speak for too long. I should like to mention briefly two items from the front page of the Police Review of last week which seem to pinpoint the problem.
The first deals with an item of police news which was broadcast on the 8 o'clock bulletin of the B.B.C. on Wednesday of the week before. This item reported the conviction of a 27-year-old constable on a charge of conspiracy to steal. The newspapers generally followed the B.B.C. in reporting the case. Yet they had other news available on the same day for, the night before, the London Gazette had announced the award of eleven British Empire Medals and of ten Queen's Commendations to police officers for gallantry in the execution of their duty. And there was not one word of this either on the B.B.C. or in the Press.
What underlines this is that some of the constables who had been awarded the British Empire Medals had earned them in the following circumstances. The Police Review said that some prominence might have been given tothe treatment received by the Constables clinging to a ring bolt in the wall of the River Mersey with a struggling woman they had rescued from drowning.While holding on to the ring bolt and to the struggling woman the report states thatHooligans … jeered at the Constables, threw cups and other missiles at them and poured hot tea over them".There was not one word of this in the Press.
The other item, again from the front page of the Police Review mentioned the serious increase in Glasgow of assaults on constables, crimes of violence and convictions for serious assaults. I am summarising the report and I will try to be brief. One of the basic reasons, according to the Chief Constable, is that the Force is still 300 below strength. It seems to me that these facts pin-point the problem we are facing with the police.
It has been established time and time again—I do not think that anyone in your Lordships' House would disagree—that in all crime, especially in serious crime, the only real and effective deterrent is the likelihood of detection and conviction. That has been said in this 205 debate; I do not think that anyone would disagree with it. The only instrument with which we can operate this deterrent is the police force. What appals, puzzles and angers me is the basic neglect which still continues so far as elementary police needs are concerned.
My Lords, it is not a bit of good for us to talk in grandiose terms about a "war on crime", because it is no more than a pipeful of hot air. To-day we are discussing police needs and conditions. Year by year the crime figures rise. Year by year the wastage of policemen goes on—not one word about that have we heard to-day. From an average of 6,000 young policemen who join each year, one-third leave. Year by year we expect the police to stumble into this so-called war on crime under-manned, under-equipped, over-worked and over-strained. Year by year the criminals win their victories and prove that crime does pay. Yet we mumble and grumble about the police. We make a reform here and a change there; but the roof is leaking; the gale has blown half the tiles away. We are patching up cracks with Sellotape, and we are running round like mad with pails to catch the water which is coming in.
As I listened earlier to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Derwent—I missed only the opening phrases; I was tucked at the back of our crowded Labour Benches—and to the speech of my noble friend Lord Stonham, I closed my eyes and it seemed that the position of a year, or even 18 months, ago might have been reversed. The voice at one point was the voice of the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, but the lyric was the lyric of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. In reply, the voice was that of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the music was the music of the noble Lord, Lord Derwent. Each was replying in the same ilk. It is true, as was said by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, that there was a flurry of legislation in the last few months of the last Government—at "ten minutes to twelve". Above all, there was the very important and vital Police Act. In fact, in thirteen years the last Government gave birth to a medium-sized elephant with a few warts, and some mice.
I grieve to say this. I do not want to say it, but I am afraid that I have to. 206 There must be some magic power, either in the Home Office building or in the Permanent Secretaries at the Home Office, because it seems to me that Ministers go there shouting different slogans and come out all saying the same thing. I grieve to say this, but though the new regime at the Home Office has done many good and fine things, I do not see any sign that its policy in respect of the police is any better than that of its predecessors. I say that with great grief. This has been a bitter disappointment to the police forces. The police feel—in many cases I think that they are right—that they have to make do with a mixed diet of patronising protestations about what good chaps they are and lightly-veiled hostility and open neglect.
We do not need a genius to see the answer so far as the police are concerned. This is proved by the fact that many successive Home Secretaries have pointed to the answer. We need more police, more equipment, and more modernisation of police methods and organisation. Why, for example, do we have this constant drain on manpower? The reasons stand out a mile. It is the conditions of work. We heard a bit about the caseloads of C.I.D. men. It has been estimated that a reasonable case-load is 125 cases a year. My Lords, the average is double that. In some cases, in areas like West End Central, for example, it can rise to as high as 750 to 800 case-loads a year. If is added to this the constant emergency calls—as with the Biggs escape—shift work, week-end work and working on public holidays, a man in the police force does not know from one day to the next what he will be doing. He cannot build up any kind of family life. That may have been all right ten, fifteen or twenty years ago; it will not do for the young, modern policeman, and it certainly will not do for his wife. That is why, with all the desperate measures we are taking to recruit, we are losing half of the people whom we do recruit.
What is the effect on the man himself and on his job? The fact is that he is tempted to take short cuts in his job and to break the rules. He does this, and every superior police officer knows that it is done. It is all right while it works, but when a policeman unfortunately slips up, his superiors, who have 207 turned a blind eye, come down like a horde of avenging Furies and offer him up as a sacrifice to the good name of the police. It is not good enough. There is great disgust among many sections of the police about the fact that there has been no improvement.
I said last year, either in a Question or during a debate (I do not remember which) that some police officers were like something out of Dickens. My Lords, a great deal of the thinking concerning the police has not altered since the time of Dickens. A constable—this has been pointed out by the Police Federation and I sympathise with it 100 per cent.—that paragon of police recruiting literature, that strong, upstanding young man we see on the police posters urging young men to join the force, is in fact still a number. He is referred to as a number. He is addressed by a number and written to as a number. He shares that doubtful privilege with the inmates of Her Majesty's prisons.
The Metropolitan Police, the most undermanned force with the biggest wastage in the whole country, has not changed its number of off-duty days since 1910. Can your Lordships tell me of any other body of men who would put up with that?
§ LORD WILLIS
Yes, perhaps the farmers. On the other hand, I think it true to point out that probably farmers take more home at the end of the week.
The total net expenditure by the Treasury on transport, and scientific, radio and other equipment is approximately 5 per cent. of the total police budget, and this is inclusive of maintenance. Any industrialist will tell you that a firm which spent only 5 per cent. of its budget on this side of its business would soon be out of business. We have been told to-day about 1,000 two-way radios which are to be introduced. There are 18,000 men on the beat. How far will 1,000 two-way radios go? How much longer are we to go on experimenting? We have been told that we are to introduce computers into the police force. As a measure of success, we are told that a committee has been increased by six or seven people. It seems to me that sometimes we suffer from an acute dose of "committee-itis". 208 We set up a committee and imagine that we have achieved the job. Why is it that computers were not introduced into our police forces five or ten years ago, as they were in other police forces in other countries?
Last year I raised the question of office equipment. I was told that this was proceeding apace, that the supply of typewriters and tape recorders was being increased. I could still take your Lordships to a police station, probably to more than one, where members of the C.I.D. queue up to use a typewriter, and this in the twentieth century, 1965. This is attacking the citadel with a peashooter.
What can be done in the war against crime? I speak from the narrow point of the police: they are our front line regiment in the battle. First, I think that we should cut out wastage by reorganising conditions. No policeman would expect us to introduce the five-day week to-day, but cannot we go to the police now and give them a firm promise that in two years' time, by stages, we will introduce a five-day week? It seems to me that this should be possible and would cut some of the wastage. Cannot we organise a special blitz on equipment and modernise it? Instead of talking about 1,000 two-way radios, cannot we talk about every man having one? Cannot we talk about—
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, if I may interrupt my noble friend, I made it perfectly clear that this order for two-way radios, pocket-size radios, had been kept to 1,000 because we had to take—in view of the need—standard types. The number which will be ordered, when the necessary adjustments have been made, will be very much larger and sufficient for the whole forces. Surely it would have been folly to buy a set now which we know is unsatisfactory. I have been extremely interested in what my noble friend has had to say and I agree with a great deal of it, but some of his figures are extremely wide of the mark. He mentioned case-loads of 700 or 800 as an average at West Central police station. The average last year (it has not been published yet) was 362, compared with the average in the Metropolitan C.I.D. as a whole of 337. I agree with the "music" (as the noble Lord put it) of what he is saying, but he is certainly off-key with some of his words.
§ LORD WILLIS
My Lords, I am afraid I must beg to differ with my noble friend so far as case-loads are concerned. I believe I could produce evidence to prove that in the West Central district so far as two or three offices are concerned their case-load was between 700 and 800. In any case, the figures that the noble Lord has quoted of 337 are so far in excess of what is regarded as reasonable that in themselves they should give cause for alarm.
I was talking about the reorganisation of the police and the blitz in equipment and modernisation. Yes, we are making experiments with two-way radios, but those experiments have been going on in other countries for up to ten years. What worries me is the way we always take a long time to get round to these answers.
Finally what I now say will not be popular, but it seems to me to be important. We must find ways and means of raising police pay, in order to attract some of the better educated and more knowledgeable young men of the community into the police force. If we are told that we cannot afford it, it seems to me that the figures which have been mentioned in this debate indicate that we can. If crime, apart from traffic offences, costs us £225 million a year, and I estimate that we could do most of the changes I have indicated at a cost of some £40 million a year, that seems to me to be a reasonable economy. But we cannot any longer get up in your Lordships' House, as we do year after year, and pat the police on the back and talk platitudes to them. We ought really to say that they are seriously strained, that they are in danger of a major breakdown in some areas, that we rely far too much on their loyalty and that we ought, in all conscience, to stop talking platitudes and come practically to their rescue.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ LORD STRANGE
My Lords, I wish to speak to your Lordships about birching in relation to juvenile delinquency in the Isle of Man. But before I start, I would congratulate my old friend Lord Mowbray and Stourton on his excellent speech. I am not sure whether, before I start, I had better not say that I have been birched myself, because I think that 210 I can say that I do understand the position of people who have been birched.
I was brought up in the days in which the cane was considered necessary to bring up all children. I went to private schools in 1909 and was met by a fusillade of canes and other weapons—lines, Swedish drill, Rudyard Kipling and all that. When I went to a public school, I went to a school which was famous for birching. That had been introduced very strongly in the last century by Dr. Keats, who was determined to cure boys by flogging or birching. It was said that he birched 75 boys, giving them "10 up", on the bare behind, before breakfast. It is said that the mother of one of the boys remonstrated with him and he told her, "Madam, Eton is not a girls' school". When I went to Eton, birching was in full swing, and I ran into it. In the summer of 1914—it was a glorious summer, a wonderful summer—I did not do some work that I should have done. I let it pile up, while I went into the Thames, still a chalk stream in those days, and into the fields and meadows which were a delight and not covered with cigarette packets. So, of course, I got a yellow ticket and a white ticket and then a note to the block; trousers down and the shirt pulled up, and I was birched.
I am telling this story to bring before your Lordships the effect of this birching. When I got back to my room and peeled oft my shirt, which was stuck to my behind with the congealed blood, my first feeling was one of great relief that it was all over. Then I felt this sensation: I had done wrong; I had flouted authority, but I had paid for it. It was all finished. They did not owe me anything and I did not owe them anything. I was glad that I had said to the usher who thrashed me, "Thank you, Sir", which was traditional to the school. The other sensation I got was a most extraordinary one—I never expected it. I can remember standing there in my room, all those years ago, a little boy of 14, with my cut behind, and I thought, "I will always face up to everything again". I had been nervous about the birching. I had faced up to it and fought it through. My feeling was, "I will face up to everything. I will face up to life". And, curiously enough, though I have come through many troubles and difficulties, I 211 have always faced up to them, to see what was going to happen next. That I owed to birching. And I mention this as a person who has been birched.
The position in the Isle of Man is that crime is very low. I think that I must disentangle it a little for your Lordships: it is not all entirely due to the birching. They are very charming people, living in a charming island, isolated in winter, and have a great many family ties. The children are well brought up—it is an Arcady of a place. If crime existed there, it would be extraordinary. The police force is very good and gets on very well with the population. Then we come to the tourist trade. I think that I should also mention this in fairness to a section of the community. We get thousands and thousands of motorcyclists coming over for the Tourist Trophy races. They behave extremely well. They are intelligent and courteous. We also get people who come to the island every year and whose children, and probably grandchildren, too, come there every year. If they have children, they tell them not to behave badly and they do not do any harm. In addition to that, we get hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the British Isles.
Your Lordships will know what has been happening at other seaside resorts and the chaos that has been occasioned by juveniles having, as the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, said, "a bit of fun". And in America the problem is much worse, and is getting very serious. In the Isle of Man, there has been nothing like this, and I will try to tell your Lordships the reason. I will tell you our deterrents. We have hanging, the "cat", the birch and imprisonment. There has not been a man hanged in the Isle of Man for well over 100 years. The "cat" is not used, but the birch is put in its place and prison is often nominal. It is made pretty strict. About five years ago, one magistrate told a prisoner who asked for a smoke, "This is not a holiday". The effect is good. Incidentally, cigarettes are now allowed.
I think that the present trouble caused by people breaking up or mobbing up seaside resorts started in the middle of the lackadaisical '50s, or just before the vicious '60s, with the epidemic of water-pistol shooting. Boys went round with water pistols loaded with tomato ketchup 212 and shot at people. It was fairly mild in the first stage, if annoying to women wearing dainty dresses to be sprayed with tomato ketchup. But it was also dangerous. A water pistol can hold H2O. It can also hold H2SO4 and become a lethal weapon. This sort of thing went on all over the holiday resorts, but when it reached the Isle of Man it was stopped dead. Subsequently there was a debate in the House of Keys about whether or not birching should be continued. It was the unanimous decision that birching, as a deterrent, should remain. I have the figures for birching. They show that over the last thirteen years an average of 6.068 boys were birched a year. The highest figures were in the tomato ketchup year, when 14 boys were birched; and the lowest were in one year when only one boy was birched.
These figures are very interesting, but they mean nothing. We cannot gather from them whether birching is a deterrent or not, because we do not know the number of crimes committed and not discovered. It is just the same with hanging. We shall never know whether hanging is or is not a deterrent, because we shall never know the number of perfect murders. But though we do not know from the figures, we can often find out from public opinion. Before I came to speak in your Lordships' House, I talked to an enormous number of people, of all classes, from all over the country. I talked to them and asked them frankly what they thought about it. I talked to just over 30 people. I will try to give your Lordships a few of their views, which I think are interesting, because this juvenile delinquency is a problem. The highest legal authority in the Isle of Man said to me: "I think it is a deterrent". There was a boy who was "had up" on two cases of rape against the same girl. He came into court: he was insolent to the police; he shouted and yelled and stamped about in the box; and finally he called the judiciary "an old buffer"—although actually the word was not "buffer"; it was a word I have acquired since listening to the debates in your Lordships' House. Anyway, after three strokes of the birch, he returned: he called the police officer "sir"; he stood to attention in the box; and he called the "old buffer", "Your honour".
213 I have talked to many doctors, both ladies and gentlemen, and they are of opinion that birching should stay. One doctor said: "Of course, we have a doctor in charge. There was a birching the other day. The boy started to howl, and we stopped it after three strokes. He had had enough of it." There was a very interesting comment indeed, which was made not only by one person, but by several, but the person who made it particularly well was a student in a modern concrete university. I should like, if I can (I have not a very good memory) to repeat it verbatim. He said: "Deterrents are necessary, because the general public must be protected. The intellectuals think that because deterrents are very old-fashioned and have been in use for a long time they must necessarily be out of date; but no new deterrents have been found to take their place". That is pretty well what he said, and it was a rather interesting comment from a boy.
Another man, a café proprietor, told me about two boys who came into his café and just wrecked the place: they tore it up, they smashed all his cups, and they kicked in the side of his counter. The police got hold of them, and they were birched. He told me that one of them did very well afterwards. The other boy is a roundsman. He calls at his house; he is a very nice boy, and popular with the customers, and he has made a great friend of him. This boy admitted that the birch did him good.
The only slight doubt came from a doctor who told me that he was a bit worried about certain boys, as to whether the magistrate was the right person to know the right boy to be birched. Another doctor told me of the case of a boy he knew well, and a girl he knew well, and the boy got birched for interfering with the girl. He said it was entirely the girl's fault. This doctor added that he thought magistrates who knew more about the character of the boy should decide whether he should be birched or not. That, too, was an interesting comment.
Your Lordships will be glad to hear that I am not going on, but I am coming to the end of my speech. I think I should give my own opinion about the matter. First of all, I am sorry that although many of your Lordships must have been at 214 school at the time when I was there, you were all very good boys in those days, or you would not have grown into the great men you have now; therefore you cannot get up and give your experiences of being birched, which would be interesting, and your reactions, and what effect they had on your later life. In my view, birching in the Isle of Man works well; but I do not think it would be a good thing over here. The reason is this. In the Isle of Man, in spite of what this doctor said, everybody knows everybody else, and everybody knows the boys: the magistrate knows who is right and who is wrong, and he knows what to do with them. As regards the tourists, if they have a crime record they give them the birch and chuck them out; if they have not a record, they throw them on a boat and send them back. That seems to cure the trouble all right.
There are three sorts of boys who could have reactions. There is a boy like me—a boy, you might say, with spirit. It had a good effect on me; and it had a good effect on the boys I have mentioned. Then there is the boy who perhaps has a bad family background and who is a bit morose. I think it might turn him sour and turn him into a criminal. Then there is the naturally shy boy, who might be ashamed of being held down and having his trousers taken down. It might give him a complex which would last him for the rest of his life; and it might ruin his life.
My youngest daughter always says that I look round, but I am really "square"; and this is quite true. I am talking in some ways about things which happened fifty years ago when I was at school. My beating was a long time ago. I know it is a cliché, but I cannot help saying that, although the world has changed out of all recognition, I do not think human nature has changed.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat has been advocating the use of corporal punishment, but at the end he said that he did not think it would be appropriate in this country, so there is really hardly any need to reply to him. I would, however, remind him that we had the Cadogan Committee, a very strong Committee, some years before the 215 war, which went into this matter thoroughly and recommended that corporal punishment, which then existed in this country, should be abolished. It was abolished, I think, in the years soon after the war, and that abolition was not followed by any increase in the sort of crimes for which it had previously been used. I think that was the end of the matter, so far as corporal punishment was concerned in this country.
I should like to add my tribute to those which have been paid to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for initiating this debate. As one of the few survivors of what was at one time called the "Crime Club" in this House (I think the noble Earl the Leader of the House is the only other survivor whose name is on the list of speakers to-day), I felt that I should like to take part in the session this afternoon. I was a little doubtful about it, because I had two engagements. One of them I succeeded in getting rid of; but, unfortunately, I could not avoid the other, and, therefore, I should like to apologise to the noble Earl if I have to leave before he comes to reply.
I remember well the debate we had a year ago, to which reference has been made more than once to-day and which was initiated by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. His speech, which provided a notable survey of the whole of this distressing social phenomenon, was most interesting and it led to a valuable debate. The analysis of the problem is, I think, now in broad outline pretty well complete. In these debates, which have been going on for nearly twenty years, we have continually called for research; and it has been called for again this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell. A great deal of research is now going on. The noble Lord referred, in particular, to the valuable work which has been done at Cambridge by the Institute of Criminology there, which was one of the outstanding contributions made by the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, when he was Home Secretary.
I think it is a great pity that we have not had the advantage of a speech from the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, this afternoon, because his holding of the Office of Home Secretary was quite a landmark in dealing with these 216 problems of crime, and I am sure that a speech from the noble Lord would have added great value to our discussions.
I believe that the research which has already taken place has revealed many, if not most, of the basic factors which are involved in this problem. There are, no doubt, still differences of opinion among the experts on a number of these matters, but, broadly, I think the main outlines are now reasonably clear for a programme of action. What we really want to do is to put the programme into effect. What seems to me to be clear is that, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, has said about the distress and feeling in the community, the other speeches, or many of them, which have been made this afternoon show that as a community we are not yet sufficiently emotionally engaged to get rid of this terrible problem. We are not, as a community, sufficiently concerned, and speech after speech this afternoon has brought that out.
The maiden speech—one which was full of interesting ideas—of the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, I thought was very good evidence of that, as was the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. If the community was really as distressed as the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, thinks, it would see to it that steps were taken in order that people who were not prepared to co-operate with the police were made to do so. The 10 per cent. of people who would not cooperate with the police said, "It does not matter; we are insured. If we are burgled we shall get the money back from the insurance company". The insurance companies make no real effort by putting up premiums in bad cases or by inspections. That is typical of the businessmen to whom the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, referred—which was the subject-matter of this interesting Cambridge survey; Dr. Martin, I think, carried it through—who prosecute in only a small percentage of cases when crimes occur in their works and in their offices. In many cases they do their best to prevent the police from prosecuting because they think it would interfere with their works, and would give them a bad name with their customers.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, the noble Lord mentioned insurance companies. He is not quite accurate. In 217 many cases premiums have gone up, and if the public, and particularly businesses, do not take notice of what has been said here to-day, a great many of them will have a considerable shock quite shortly.
§ LORD CHORLEY
I hope to goodness they will. It has always been my experience that insurance companies were not sufficiently elastic in their handling, not only of this matter but in other problems of this kind—in the way of assessing the risk of the particular insured and adjusting the premium to the needs of the situation. These instances show that the community as a whole is not sufficiently engaged in the solution of this problem. There is a lot of talk on this subject in the newspapers and there is, no doubt, a lot of talk in public houses over glasses of beer. But from the point of view of assisting the police the situation is in many respects deplorable.
These debates are not political, although the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, did his best to give a political cut to his speech this afternoon. I should say, rather, that they are not Party political debates, because in the real sense of politics they are very political indeed. The maintenance of order in a community is the basis on which all political institutions are built, and it is beginning to look as though we are reaching a stage where we cannot preserve law and order effectively in our country. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will forgive me if I dwell for a few minutes on what seem to me to be some of the matters which are basic to the whole of this problem, and which will inevitably lead me to observations which may be considered as having some Party political flavour.
The more I have studied the problems of crime in our community (and I have been studying them for many years) the more I have been convinced that criminality is to a large extent due to the very structure of our society as it exists at the present time—not only our society here, but our society in what are called capitalistically organised communities. Western Europe and America, of course, are the most outstanding examples of this —a society which is based on private profit, and is largely uncontrolled, which when it knows it needs a strong police force cannot take the necessary steps to get it. You cannot do many of the other 218 things which to-day's debate has shown to be absolutely essential, and which ought to be done in a society which is well-knit and knows how to control itself, in a society in which many of the least desirable proclivities of the human animal are encouraged. The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, referred to gaming in particular, which is an outstanding example of this, and which is titillated all the time by an enormous advertising system, one of the greatest economic systems in the country, and by a daily Press in which the moral standard is not, at any rate, very obvious in many cases. This sort of thing is bound to produce criminality, and a great deal of it.
It is not only noteworthy but, in my submission, significant—and I think it was the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester who drew attention to this fact—that the country in which this sort of society is the most highly organised, or the most completely unorganised, the United States of America, is the one which is worst off in this way, and in which crime statistics make ours look pale by comparison; in which the galloping increase every year is a much faster gallop than anything which we have so far experienced in this country. I think this is bound to be so, because where this type of life is magnified to the greatest extent, criminality, which is an ineradicable part of it, is bound to be magnified at the same time. I do not think this is in any way an accident. I think there is obviously a close relationship between these two phenomena. This type of laissez-faire, private profit, private enterprise country has many deplorable features, of which an excess of criminality, it seems to me, is only one. I dislike it intensely, and that is the reason why I am Socialist, and proud to say so. I do not, of course, suggest that there is no crime in Socialist countries, but certainly there is nothing like the amount which we are experiencing in the capitalist countries of Western Europe and America at the present time.
It will obviously be some time before we get a Socialist society in this country. Meanwhile we must do our best with what we have, and I am afraid that all we can hope for is to effect a certain amount of improvement. The researches which have been referred to, and which I have mentioned, show that criminality 219 is a hydra-headed problem. Some of the heads can be chopped off, and in some of the other cases some of the teeth can be drawn out of the heads; but it will not be got rid of completely, or anything like completely, in my view. 'This is obviously not altogether satisfactory, but it is the best that we can do in the circumstances.
It is the same to a large extent with the nation's health, where we are devoting the greater part of our energy to curing diseases and illnesses which we make no real effort to prevent by a proper system of preventive medicine. We are so much engaged in trying to cure the people who are ill that we do not seem to have any time, money, or doctors left to go in for real preventive medicine.
On the last occasion, I devoted most of my speech to the problems of juvenile delinquency, and in particular to the probation side of it, which has been so well looked after by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, this afternoon. I must say that the figures he gave about the London region are very alarming indeed. I hope that the Government will be able to see some way of dealing with the problem, because if what he suggested is likely to happen, unless action is taken, does happen, it will be serious; for London is much the worst of all these areas where criminality is so rampant. However, I do not want to go over that ground again, because it has been well traversed this afternoon.
It seems to me that a great deal of the pilfering and destruction—indeed, in the early stages I think practically all of it—caused by the young people about whom we have been talking is due to sheer exuberance and thoughtlessness; and in fact most of these boys become quite decent and law-abiding citizens later on. The real difficulty in a society such as I have been describing is to make these lads realise what their actions really mean; to bring them up against the reality of the situation. Most of them have practically no capacity to realise this. I think the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, said that most of them are illiterate; that they have no capacity to realise that they are injuring their own community. They do not understand the community in which they live, and I believe that a much better approach is 220 through their feelings and through the fact that they know among themselves how individuals can be hurt and injured. Few of them seem to have any realisation of this to begin with, but it can be brought home to them.
One of the ways in which consciousness of this important fact can be induced in them is to make them contribute towards the indemnification of their victims—the people who have been injured or deprived of their property by their activities. This requires a much more flexible system of fining, combined with probation, than we have at present, and I hope that the Home Office will pay some attention to a revision of the provisions which at present exist, under which one cannot adequately fine and put on probation at the same time. This can be applied only to the older boys when they are detained in approved schools or borstal institutions, and it means, of course, that they will have to do some work for which they can earn money. There must be a system of remunerated employment. The importance of this to persons who are detained in gaols, borstal institutions or elsewhere has been underlined on many occasions in these debates, and I think this shows how closely many of these things are bound up with each other.
I do not want to go into the question of employment at present, except to say that the progress which has been made is distressingly slow, in spite of the valuable Reports which we have had from Sir Wilfred Anson and his Committee. I repeat that this is, perhaps, the most important aspect of all. It is important, as part of the reason for providing prisoners with work, and remunerating that work, that one should be in a position to take part of that remuneration for the purpose of indemnifying the victims of the crimes and bringing it home to the man in question, so that he appreciates the situation. I think that can be done, and it is certainly a view held by some prison officers who have recently given a good deal of consideration to this problem. I am sure that it will have a rehabilitating effect.
I hope that the scheme introduced not long ago for indemnifying the victims of criminal injuries will not be allowed to interfere with the adoption of the suggestion that I have made. As I understand it, that scheme has made quite good progress and would appear to be working 221 reasonably well. The various objections which were put forward by the last Administration for fending it off for quite a long time—and I think the noble Earl is entitled to a great deal of the credit for the fact that the scheme finally went through—have, in fact, proved, as this sort of difficulty so often does prove, to be quite easily surmountable. If I may say so, however, far too little is known about the working of this scheme. The monthly releases of notes to the Press on the cases have no more than a journalistic interest. They are of little value to the serious student of these problems, or to the lawyers who are required to consider them in connection with helping the victims to put forward claims. In particular, the reasons for the decisions, particularly in cases where there are appeals, which are quite a vital part of building up a jurisprudence on this sort of thing, are altogether insufficient.
I appreciate that there must be some degree of anonymity in this sort of work, but I suggest that it has been carried to the stage where it is impossible to discover what, if any, are the substantive principles which are being developed. To a large extent, the releases are intended for the guidance of applicants, but the details given are of such a sketchy character that they cannot be of any real assistance. This is especially so in the case of the unsuccessful applications, in which, so far as I know, no information is given at all. This makes it quite impossible for a lawyer to advise a would-be applicant as to whether he should put in a claim, and, if so, how he should prosecute it. The Board has to make an annual report to Parliament, and I hope that the Government will take steps to ensure that this gives a much fuller account of the Board's work than has appeared in the monthly releases, so that the lawyers who handle these cases, as well as the sociologists and criminologists who are concerned with the wider aspects of the working of this scheme, may have the material on which to form judgments and reach decisions.
My Lords, I realise that I am getting near the 25-minute limit. Therefore I will not make any other point, except to ask the Government to take note of this particular matter, which although I appreciate that it is rather peripheral to the main topic of discussion this afternoon, is, nevertheless, one of substantial 222 importance, and one which I am sure your Lordships will agree requires to be properly looked into. If the Government will look into it, it will be of the greatest value to my colleagues at the London School of Economics and also to my colleagues in the legal profession who are concerned to advise their clients.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ LORD SIMEY
My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, that the community is insufficiently involved in the questions we have been discussing, but I ask myself whether it would be desirable to involve the community without careful consideration as to how it can be done. We have in front of us the rising crime statistics, and I am sure that we do not want the community to be emotionally involved, in the sense that panic measures which are not of themselves well conceived are taken under general pressure. The involvement of the community needs to be a rational involvement, and the measures to be taken in the future need to be carefully thought out and based upon considered opinion. There is among the people who are responsible for research a tendency for discussion to concentrate now more and more on the curious problem why it is that more people do not commit crime than do so at the moment. That may sound very strange indeed to your Lordships, but it really is a problem to understand why, with all the reasons for which we now understand people commit crime, all the people exposed to those influences do not commit crimes. We have many people who have come from drunken homes, who live in inadequate circumstances in the slums, who suffer from matrimonial disputes, and so on, but in fact the vast majority of them do not commit crime.
We are now coming to the conclusion that what we need is to study the sorts of strains to which the people who commit crime are exposed. The problem is to understand how circumstances of this kind, plus something else, do lead to crime. The obvious fact about the situation is that what seems to lie at the back of crime is change. The more rapid social change becomes, the more crime is committed. The more rapid social change, the more affluence there is in society; hence you get this extraordinary paradox of affluence leading to crime. 223 Social change has a direct impact upon the norms of behaviour that people are brought up in their childhood to accept. It is one thing accepting the norm when this is what you have learned is right and proper, which may require you to endure certain circumstances and you therefore endure them; and it is quite another thing to grow up in a society in which those norms themselves are under challenge and people discover that other sorts of social life altogether are possible for them.
In other words, people find that though they may have been taught in their early childhood to endure adverse circumstances in the slum, the slum is not necessary; one can get out of it. And though it is, of course, possible for many people to get out of the slum by hard endeavour, by learning how to improve their position in society, it is also possible to get out of the slum by crime. In an unfortunate number of cases, crime does pay. We are now in a position when, as the right reverend Prelate will doubtless agree, it is no longer possible to teach Sunday School children that:The rich man in his castle,The poor man at his gate,God made them high and lowlyAnd ordered their estate.It does not work. Though I have seen Sunday School children being taught that to-day, I am sure the right reverend Prelate will agree it is quite time all that stopped and the Church had another and very deep think indeed about these things.
Therefore, the concept of crime is not solely a sociological one. It is not solely a matter of science. Science can tell us a lot about crime, but it cannot tell us anything like everything. My colleague the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, came to the conclusion after a long study of crime from the scientific point of view that, "It seems time that we recognised that delinquency or criminality is not a rational field of discourse". I am sure we should all recognise the element of truth in that statement, but we should also recognise that it is a matter for rationality in so far as the morality in human behaviour is itself a rational subject of discourse.
The facts are extremely worrying. I happen to live on the edges of a slum area, and my colleagues have been conducting researches in that area concerning 224 the spread of crime there. They have come to the conclusion, as Professor Mays has said in his book Growing Up in the City, that at one stage in the life of growing boys—not in girls, and that in itself is a highly significant fact—particularly adolescent boys, every boy is delinquent. He goes through a phase in his life when the society in which he lives requires that he becomes delinquent in order to establish his position in that society. Of course, we cannot leave that as it is, because though most of the boys go through that phase, the process of maturation brings them back into the law-abiding community. However, it does stick to some of the boys; some of the boys become lifelong criminals as a result, and we have to do something about it. It is no good just regretting things: that leads to panic.
We must develop an understanding of how we can move forward, and we can move forward on one of two lines. We can move forward tactically, which means we strengthen the police force, provide them with more facilities, and endeavour to amend the rates of pay, and so forth, to attract more young men to the police. That must be done; there is no doubt about that. We have endeavoured to be more inventive in our police services in Liverpool than some speeches would suggest. We have introduced closed circuit television, which has led to a sudden jump in the number of arrests and convictions for theft from cars, for instance. Moreover, the police force in Liverpool has shown an awareness of the social component of crime among young people, in so far as we have developed a juvenile liaison scheme, again with considerable success. The scene which we face is not by any means a wholly black one. Much can be done in the immediate future. I am delighted to hear of the installation of a computer in New Scotland Yard in London, and all I can do is to plead for a land line teleprinter line from Liverpool to New Scotland Yard.
The other line of advance is strategic. We must learn more about the sorts of influences, the kinds of strains, which lead to one person in ten becoming a lifelong criminal. I suggest that there are a number of obvious lines which we need to adopt now. We need, for instance, to understand that the educational system 225 is an extraordinarily patchy one as it exists at the moment. Up to school-leaving age, we are working might and main to make this really effective and efficient, and a great deal of success has arisen from that effort. But, on the other hand, as soon as the child leaves school, what happens? We discover that the influence of the school over the child tapers off very quickly. At the school-leaving age, the child is no longer under the continuing influence of teachers. He is pitched out into employment and a big gap develops.
On the Crowther Committee on education for children and young people between the ages of 16 and 18, we discovered that there was a lamentable gap between young people and the educational system. Further education extending after school-leaving age tends to be, except for a minority, a mockery. We must go ahead with that. We are only reaping the result of the seeds we have sown ourselves, if we expect our young adult population to go perfectly straight, when virtually no effort is being made at the moment to induce them to do so. As far as the Crowther Committee was concerned, much emphasis was placed on the importance of developing the services of youth. We want all our young people who are not under the direct influence of the Education Service to be members of the Youth Service, and there is a tremendous harvest which could be reaped in that field. The Committee itself said:In no field of education can the expenditure of public money accomplish so much and so readily".That is the first positive suggestion under the heading of a strategic approach.
Secondly, there is the whole problem of young people in employment. Lamentably little is done for them now, even by way of giving them training to occupy higher positions in industry. They are left to sink or swim. Although they have some assistance directed to them by technical schools, through the apprenticeship system, that applies to only a small minority. To quote the Report of the Crowther Committee again:Surely society ought not to withdraw from the young worker the help that it gave to the schoolboy".I was most interested to see in a leading article in the Guardian yesterday a statement that a long section of the Crowther 226 Report was devoted to county colleges, and the further statement that it was high time that we had another look at that section. We in Liverpool have one county college. This operates on a voluntary basis—voluntary as between the educational authority and employing firms. I know its operations well and, in my opinion, they are quite magnificent.
So far as the operation of the delinquency services are concerned, there are certain specific things that can be done. Again, in my opinion, this to some extent should come under the heading of "tactical", but it is really a mixture of tactical and strategic. I was for a number of years an adviser on welfare in the Caribbean for the Colonial Office, and delinquency services fell within my ambit. It became necessary for me to take a look at, rather than to inspect, the prison services of all the Colonies in that region, and also to some extent the police services. It became plain to me as I went round—this point forced itself on my attention—that crime is, to far too great an extent, punished by short sentences. There are still, despite all the reforms that have been put through in the last few years, too many people in prison for a matter of weeks or the odd month. In that case, time and time again in the Caribbean I found that the point was proved that the prison is nothing more than a college of crime. It is where many young people may be sent, where young adults may be sent, who in this country at the moment are forced into far too close proximity with people who have learned hardened ways of crime, not necessarily by repeated convictions. It may indeed be for their first conviction. But they know about it. That should no longer be possible.
I personally should certainly like to abolish now all sentences of up to six months. If we are really going to be adventurous in this, and are going to try to do something which is effective in a short time, I should like us to abolish all sentences of up to a year. How, then, would I deal with the offenders? I assure your Lordships that I do not speak in any sense as a sentimentalist. In fact, when I addressed the Judiciary in several of the Colonies in the West Indies, they started by criticising me as a sentimentalist but on some occasions they ended by saying that I was a hardhearted man. Having abolished short 227 prison sentences, I would substitute for them, first, the expedient of an attendance centre for the young adult. I would put up the ages. My own view of the behaviour of the young criminal is such that I would not object to seeing quite an amount of activity required of young men at attendance centres. They would go on to a barrack square and march smartly about to learn the elements of drill. When they have learned that really effectively they might assimilate from the people concerned the elements of self-respect. They know that they can do one thing at least well.
Again, I would attach much more importance to fines. That point has been made by one noble Lord in this debate. I would require the payment of much higher fines. I would associate fines with probation and with compensation, and I would regard—this is a point I established in the West Indies—the nonpayment of fines and non-attendance at the compulsory centre as serious offences. I would regard the non-payment of a fine as a serious offence if it were in the capacity of the offender to pay.
§ LORD ALPORT
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord in his most interesting argument, but it would help me if I knew whether he was making his suggestions in relation to offenders of all ages, or whether he was speaking exclusively of the young delinquent.
§ LORD SIMEY
I would certainly start with the young adult delinquent. You cannot undertake to look after groups of people of miscellaneous ages in this way, otherwise you start facing again the problem of contamination; and that has got to be avoided at all costs. So far as I was concerned, the only mixed age groups which I consented to, and indeed encouraged, were those on a farm prison we started in Jamaica where the older offenders proved to he those people who had the normal attributes of the society more embedded in their personality than anybody else. They were extremely well behaved people, and they objected strongly to the bad behaviour of the young people. In fact the older inhabitants of the farm prison were as strong an influence for discipline as we had. It worked extremely well. I would regard the short prison sentence, in other words, 228 as an utter folly which we must get away from.
May I say, in conclusion, that I welcome all the pronouncements made by the Government for advance alone this broad front which we have established in the last eight months or so. But I would recognise that the path of reform is troubled. Nothing that we can do can halt or even retard change. It must continue if we are to maintain our place in the world. We are, indeed, on the economic front encouraging change as rapidly as we can. We cannot be in favour of change in one phase of life and not in favour of it in another. There are going to be many and serious problems to encounter. We are going to face the fact that many men, particularly young men with disturbed minds, are going to seek to extract by force from the community that which they do not see fit to endeavour to earn, and the prisons are going to be institutions with a continuity in this society. I greatly regret that, but I regard it, nevertheless, as inevitable.
I suggest that we must have regard to priorities in this matter. I have had instilled in my own heart the idea of mercy, the idea of love, by my Christian teachers. But this to me is, to some extent, a matter of degree. I have a keen sympathy for young people growing up in really adverse circumstances, seemingly with no chance at all.
Their position has always touched my emotions deeply. I have seen people like that in boys' clubs that I know, fighting back against the adverse circumstances to which they are exposed and making a good thing of life in the end. In my area—I am assured that no other area in Great Britain has a higher rate of crime—I see people who have been described in this debate. I have watched people whose conduct is violent, who assault others physically and who are, for instance, prepared to kick them when they are down. Those people will go to prison in the end, so devoutly trust. But if I had the spending of another £1 million, I would spend it on the young people I know rather than on, shall I say, train robbers.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKET
My Lords, I was not in your Lordships' House yesterday when Lord Egremont's Motion was debated, but I am going to follow him by making a short speech. I should 229 first like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, very much for bringing forward this Motion. As usual, we have had a most interesting debate, ranging all over England, and even over to the Isle of Man. Before I say anything about the debate or my own views, I should like warmly to congratulate my noble friend Lord Mowbray and Stourton on his maiden speech. He spoke—I will not say with great experience of crime, but certainly from his experience in the prevention of it; and it was a very good maiden speech.
The noble Lord, Lord Willis, mentioned that the deterrent is the certainty of detection and conviction. I should like to add the words "and appropriate punishment after conviction". On that subject I feel that many of our young people are so much better off nowadays than they were some years ago that the fines imposed upon them are quite worthless as a deterrent. I know of a young people's club in my area into which they pay so much a week, and when a conviction is met with they are able to take their fines out of the club. Whether the amount is five shillings or so for a crime of vandalism or some other sum for smashing up railway carriages, they regard it as quite a joke. I feel that fines should be in the same ratio as the inflation from which we suffer. The pound is worth roughly one-quarter of what it was worth in 1938, and I think that fines ought to be quadrupled to equate with that situation.
I want to come now to the question of the encouragement of crime. The situation in regard to the discouragement of crime has been put to us by the noble Lord, Lord Strange. I congratulate him on the fact that the birching he got at Eton (which, alas!, I did not undergo) was an incentive to him, in that he was able to make a speech lasting a quarter of an hour without the aid of a single note. I have a note or two, but perhaps if I had been birched like Lord Strange I should not have needed a note in my hand at all. I congratulate him on his speech. I wish that the birching which takes place in the Isle of Man (which the noble Lord himself has not experienced), where he now lives, could be extended to other parts of the country generally. I feel that it would act as much more of a deterrent to young people than the 230 imposition of a small fine or a short term of detention.
One point that I want to make is about the influence of the B.B.C. on young people. I am sorry to have to say that the B.B.C. has deteriorated very much since the days when Lord Reith looked after it. We now have television, of course, which we did not have in those early days, and I know that many young people spend their evenings when they come back from school looking at television. The parents hardly switch it off. They regard television as a kind of nanny to keep the young children employed, while they themselves go off to do their cooking, or have their evening meal, or to do some work outside. The children see murder films, immoral films—in fact every sort of film—on television, and I am sure that young people take notice of what they see. Very often in the films the murderer or person who commits crimes comes out best, and I feel that this is an encouragement to young people to commit crimes when they are older. That point should be looked into, either by some Government Committee or by a Commission of a responsible nature. I feel that this deterioration in the material shown on television is to some extent coincident with the increase in crime. The noble Lord, Lord Simey, said that all young boys pass through a period of wishing to be delinquent.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, if the noble Lord has finished with the B.B.C., would it not be fair to make this comment; that unfortunately Her Majesty's Government will not abolish the "pirate" radio stations, and, so far as sound radio is concerned, the B.B.C. have to live in the world which they find around them; and it makes life for them very difficult in trying to uphold standards in sound radio?
§ LORD BROCKET
I believe that Radio Caroline is stationed near the Isle of Man, where there is less crime than anywhere else. I do not see why there should be an auction to get more and more of these things on B.B.C. I believe that the B.B.C. should have its own high standards and not pay attention to Radio Caroline, especially as Radio Caroline does not seem to have much effect on the Isle of Man. That is all I wish to say. I certainly hope that 231 Her Majesty's Government will take into account the question of the B.B.C.'s influence.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
My Lords, one point seems not to have been referred to, and it is a point which I think could be considered. The rule which prescribes anonymity among security workers in the Defence services would seem to be essential if detection is to be facilitated in civil life. How do Press headlines, advertising by name the police officers concerned in a case, help the police or the C.I.D. in their task? How frequently do we ourselves and the criminal world see who is detailed to solve the crime? Such slogans as "The Big Five" or an individual officer's name may give the show away if the criminal world can assess the reputation of a policeman as being as cunning as themselves, or, on the other hand, frequently unsuccessful in his efforts. May I ask the noble Earl, the Leader of the House the question? Whose responsibility, is it, if it is not that of the Home Office, to lay down anonymity for the sleuths who are trying to protect the public by apprehending perpetrators of crime? Are the Press on the side of the public when advertising individuals as being on the job? What success would MI5 have if their efforts were publicised so that the enemy were given something to go on? "The Big Five" are not in the same position as a winning football team. I should have thought that similar publicity was against the public interest.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I hope that the noble Earl who has just spoken, and who is such an acceptable speaker, will allow me to think over his last point a little more carefully. I feel that there is a great deal of force in what he has said; but how one could give effect to it without interfering with the much treasured freedom of the Press is a matter that I should like to think over and refer to my colleagues. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Brocket, will also allow me to pass over in relative silence his remarks, which again need more careful thought outside the confines of our precise debate to-night.
232 I rise under the burden of two considerations, in particular. One is the revelation that I usually take 33 minutes to wind up a debate, where the Lord Chancellor takes 17. The only occasion on which we spoke at equal length was in the debate on crime last year, when we each spoke for 36 minutes; and the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, as he himself said, spoke for even longer. We have all made good resolutions since that time. My resolution to-night is to speak for 17 minutes, but if that proves too short I shall know better in future. The other sobering reflection is that for the ten years during which I have been initiating these debates on prisons and crime, with the collaboration of many noble Lords, and particularly in recent years the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, I have been denouncing inadequacies in our prison and after-care system. It now falls to my lot, I suppose, in some sense, to be their champion. That again places me in a slightly embarrassing position.
I know that we are all very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, for initiating this debate, and, if I may respectfully say so, for the generous attitude which he has displayed. He did not whip round on us and try, so to speak, to pay off any old scores. He was thoroughly statesmanlike, and we are very grateful to him. I must agree with the right reverend Prelate and other noble Lords in making distinction between the attack on crime and the question of penal reform. I agree entirely with what fell from the right reverend Prelate, and also from the noble Lord, Lord Simey, who is one of the leading authorities in the country on this question and who refused to draw any sharp distinction between the tactical and the strategic approach.
I do not want to pin the noble Lord down too hard on this, and I realise that he is hoping to inaugurate a debate on penal reform before we are all very much older. I agree that for the purpose of these debates, we have to draw a line somewhere but I would certainly dissent, as would all who would possibly call themselves penal reformers, from any idea that it is possible to separate the attempt to reduce crime in our community from the attempt to treat delinquents in the right way or to help those who, when they are quite young, are potential delinquents. That applies, perhaps, to a large 233 proportion of the population. In other words, while we cannot fundamentally draw any distinction between the treatment and the prevention of crime, that does not prevent us in these discussions from concentrating on one part more than another, just as we have a Foreign Affairs debate and a Defence debate, although we know that in these days one can hardly separate Foreign Affairs from Defence.
But this point I am making is not by any means—and I am sure that neither the right reverend Prelate nor anyone else would think it was—a minor point or a matter of words, because there is a fundamental distinction here—I will not say between the political Parties, because this is not, or should not be, a Party issue, but between what I would call the ancient and modern approach to crime. I think the fundamental distinction is that in the modern approach you try to understand the delinquent, and the man who is very nearly delinquent or is a potential delinquent, before, and it may be after, denouncing him. And when I say that I do not mean for a moment that you have to set out to overthrow ancient values. Take the family which we all concentrate on, and which is now, if you like, quite fashionable in the most advanced circles. It seems to me that here what is particularly interesting to-day is the coming together of traditional Christian wisdom, and the latest insights of the sociologists and the psychiatrists, for whom the noble Lords, Lord Simey, Lord Chorley and Lord Wells-Pestell could speak; and no doubt they also speak as Christians. This is, in my opinion, so important that I felt it right to say that at the very beginning.
Then we had a very interesting maiden speech from the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton. He raised a number of issues which I cannot pursue now, but I should like to assure him that we would often hope to hear him again. He raised one issue, in particular, on which a lot more could be said: the question of whether we are bringing people up to-day with a weakened respect for authority. I suppose that that has been said from ancient times. I imagine that the older generation, to which the noble Lord hardly belongs yet, but of which I am certainly a member, have always thought that the young have not 234 a proper respect for their elders. You will find that in the wisdom of the Greeks and Romans. So I do not think there is anything very new about that. But what I do regard as particularly important in this age, whether we take the family or take society generally, is to combine the new-found liberties which we all applaud, I think, as a sign of progress, with the maintenance of this adequate respect for authority which has been proved throughout the centuries to be essential to a good society. So I feel that the problem is once again to bring together the ancient and the modern values.
Then we had some fairly definite remarks from the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers (though with many apologies I must admit that I did not hear them) on the subject of corporal punishment. I will not say more, particularly as I had to be absent during his remarks, except to remind him that this issue was debated in this House, which is still regarded as a fairly conservative place of discussion, not so long ago, and the overwhelming sense of the House was opposed to the reintroduction of corporal punishment.
The noble Lord, Lord Strange, delighted us, as always, and for a time, almost, you might say, till the last stride of his race, I thought that he was running on the same side as the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers. But then he seemed to turn round and say that he did not wish to see corporal punishment reintroduced in this country. I was going to argue with him more strongly, if he had not seemed, so to speak, to join us as he neared the tape. But may I put one point to him which was passing through my mind as he spoke? Apparently, after this beating, or birching, that he received—and it occasionally fell to my lot at Eton, I am bound to say, to see other boys beaten; by that time I had passed the stage of being beaten, but I have in fact been bended over and received punishment from the schoolmaster in my time, although I cannot say that it did me any good, and I do not think the House will think that my character is very beautiful as a result—the noble Lord, Lord Strange, feared nothing. I think that that raises the question of whether the ordinary boy is going to fear another beating. Is it, in fact, a deterrent? I think one must raise that question. But 235 whether we look at it from that point of view or from another point of view, it was very striking that when this Government advisory Committee went into the matter some time ago—and, so far as I know, they were far from unanimous when they first came together in opposing corporal punishment—they came down unanimously against it; and, certainly, the House of Lords pronounced very strongly against it not so long ago.
There were some very important speeches from the noble Lords, Lord Wells-Pestell, Lord Simey and Lord Chorley, which certainly cannot be replied to in any way that would be worthy. Lord Wells-Pestell and Lord Simey, I think, both agreed on the necessity for what I might call a combined approach to crime: we need all the different disciplines, all the different forms of human wisdom, and, indeed, human goodness, in this combined attempt to prevent people from committing crime, or to treat them in the right way when they have committed crime so that they do not commit crime again.
I do not know whether Lord Wells-Pestell will be particularly encouraged, but at any rate he can be assured that the amount of money spent on criminological research, though it is impossible to become wildly enthusiastic about it yet, is steadily increasing. It has increased from rather more than £50,000 in the financial year 1963–64, to nearly £100,000 in the current financial year. I tell him that to give him just a little encouragement, but I cannot pretend that he, or perhaps most of those who work with him, are going to throw their hat into the air.
He raised a number of detailed points about the Probation Service. With the exception of the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, who was a so greatly loved Member of this House, I do not think that we have ever had in this House an active former probation officer. Of course, the noble Earl, Lord Feversham, had been President of the Probation Service for many years, but he had not had the long experience in the field which the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, has. It is worth pointing out that the situation in the London Probation Service is perhaps not quite so bad as the noble Lord's speech might lead 236 us to suppose. He probably knows the inner situation there better than I do, so I am not going to try to correct him with any vehemence. But the position is that five men and five women have given notice to leave by the end of September. However, seventeen men and seven women are expected to take up appointments by early October, and the complement of the service should then be up to its full establishment. The noble Lord may be aware of these facts, but I think the public should be aware of them when they read the noble Lord's speech.
§ LORD WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, the noble Lord will not disagree with me that the majority of the ten were going for the reasons which I gave.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I think that would carry me into territory which I should be unwise to embark on. But, in fact, I have been given reasons which may or may not—when I show them to the noble Lord—satisfy him on that particular point.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I thought that in the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, I should be permitted to use a loose expression. But, of course, I gladly apologise to the noble Lord, who I see is setting himself up as a second purist. However, it is no good now trying to correct it in Hansard. I see that, at any rate.
The noble Lord, Lord Simey, made one or two fundamental suggestions. The fact that they have not been adopted, of course, does not mean that they never could be adopted. I think the simplest thing is to make sure that they are studied once again. He knows that, in fact, those suggestions have been pressed on the Home Office and the various authorities, and, if I may say so, he had better continue to press them and continue to try to demonstrate that the case is as strong as he says.
I will not reply—in any case, he has left us—to the noble Lord, Lord Willis; but, since his remarks may possibly be published widely, I hope that anyone who is anxious to obtain the full facts will study with at least equal care the speech of my noble friend Lord Stonham—which, 237 of course, was deliberate, with the full authority of the Home Office, and which I know can be accepted as completely accurate.
The question is naturally raised—and it was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent: what are we doing, apart from this short-term attack? I think that, in his friendly way, he is well aware that important statements of policy may be expected before very long. I cannot be more precise, but important statements of policy on one or two points are expected before very long. In particular, if we take the question of the treatment of young offenders, he is aware that a White Paper is now being worked on, and I am as anxious as he is to see it appear. It would be an affectation not to remind the House that last year I was chairman of a committee, of which the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, was perhaps the most distinguished member, which considered the whole question of prevention and treatment of crime, and which made far-reaching suggestions for what might be called a new family approach, including a recommendation of a family service. All that is now being worked on, and it goes without saying that those, such as myself, who produced those plans last year, must hope that the White Paper will come as close as possible to giving effect to them. But more than that it would be improper for me to say.
Again, there are important plans being made for the future of adult prisoners. The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, was harried in his time by questions about preventive detention; and, therefore, I think he has been quite lenient to-day in not returning to that matter with any special vehemence. But the truth is that, during the past few months, the Home Secretary has been giving a great deal of consideration, not only to how to deal with the classes of offender eligible for preventive detention and corrective training, but also to other questions relating to imprisonment and the transition from imprisonment to life in the outside world. These other questions may well include developments of the hostels scheme and the possibility of new arrangements for paroling prisoners.
It is obvious, from the fact that I am at liberty even to mention such subjects, that fundamental investigations are afoot, 238 and I can only say that I hope—I had better not begin to put any dates as to the production of these documents—it will not be very long before, in regard to both young people and adults, there will be proposals which, at any rate in their magnitude and imagination, will make a good impression on the noble Lord and others present.
The last topic on which I should like to say just one word is the question of after-care—a matter to which, of course, my noble friend Lord Stonham has dedicated so much effort in the past and which he was kind enough to leave to me to-day, at a time when he was, naturally, dealing with many other vital issues. I hope that everybody in this House realises just how hard my noble friend Lord Stonham has worked for individual prisoners in years past. I met one lady—this was before my noble friend became a Minister, but I know he has not changed—whose husband was in prison and who told me (my noble friend Lord Stonham never told me) that she had received 16 letters from Lord Stonham. That is what he would do for the wife of one prisoner, and I think we can take it that he is working as hard as any man can for prisoners, for ex-prisoners and for all in distress: his brief stay in office has already proved that. But he left this question of after-care to me. In all these matters, as the noble Lords, Lord Simey and Lord Wells-Pestell, know so well—and we all, in our different ways, realise it—there is the question of reorganisation. We have to get that straight. But there is also the provision of those who are actually going to do the job—what might be called the social servants. It may be that these will be probation officers or others working in the social field. In my opinion, it has been a pitiful commentary on our society that we have had so few probation officers. I have said this many times in the past, and, having said it so often and talked about the over-work of probation officers, I am afraid it needed the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, to tell me to-day that the shortage was so great that, even now, with an increased staff of probation officers, an average probation officer—I suppose that meant in London—would, on average, see an ex-prisoner only once a month. I am bound to say 239 that that was, even for me, a disquieting piece of intelligence.
At any rate, at the time of the Morrison Report in October, 1961, the strength of the Probation Service was 1,826; at the time of the Ado Report, it was 2,129; the present size is 2,446; and it is intended to bring the service up to a strength of 3,500 by 1970. On that calculation, the service would have roughly doubled between 1960 and 1970. I ought to place those plans in front of the House, not concealing the fact that, under the reorganisation, with which I think all in this House agree, the Probation Service is undertaking—I must not say "embarking on"—new and strenuous tasks in the form of after-care. There, they will be supplemented by those who were working in the field before. But we must realise that, even by 1970, this country will not be overburdened by probation officers in view of the colossal duties falling to them.
I should just like to say—and this is, I suppose, in the nature of a small announcement—that the Home Secretary, in consultation with his Advisory Panel for Probation and After-care and various interested organisations, has been giving careful consideration to the best means of giving effect to the intentions of ACTO with regard to prison welfare work, the work inside prisons, and has reached the conclusion that the Quality of the welfare service, and interchange and collaboration between it (that is, the welfare service and the after-care service) will best be ensured by filling prison welfare posts by the secondment of probation officers. This will be done rather than to perpetuate a separate prison welfare service. Work remains to be done on the details of a scheme to give effect to this decision, but we can hope to see a scheme in operation by the end of the year. That is a small announcement, but it will be of considerable interest to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, and to those who are most directly concerned.
I must repeat finally—and it is really a general moral, I think, in the minds of all of us, however we divide these subjects for the purpose of discussion—that the reintegration of the offender into the community requires the active interest and support of all members of the community. That has been said by various speakers 240 this afternoon, including the right reverend Prelate. My right honourable friend has been giving much thought to the best and most appropriate methods of maintaining and stimulating the involvement of the whole community in this important social problem. Your Lordships will be aware that the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, who has played such a distinguished part in other debates of this kind but who I imagine has been prevented from being with us to-day, is chairman of a Working Party which has been appointed by my right honourable friend to consider the role of voluntary help in the field of after-care and ways in which financial help from public sources might be given to its endeavours. The point there that I want to stress is that, as the State assumes these responsibilities, we believe more and more that they cannot be shirked by the community as a whole acting through the State; at the same time, the community, acting through voluntary efforts, is called upon for very great exertions, and these we are anxious to encourage in any possible way. I know the House will feel—and we can say it more easily in the absence of the noble Baroness—that no one could be found better than, or as good as, the noble Baroness to organise this voluntary work.
We are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Derwent. I regard this as an interim debate. We cannot separate ultimately the attack on crime from the attempt to bring the delinquent into the community and to save young persons before they fall into delinquency. In the last resort it seems to me that the Christian message is clear and can be shared by many who would not describe themselves as dogmatic Christians. We must maintain our standards of condemning crime, of condemning the evil that exists in practically all crimes; but, at the same time, we must somehow find a way of loving the sinner. I myself believe that unless we show ourselves more capable of loving the sinner we shall show ourselves prodigious hypocrites. There is a cynical element in all of us. While I do not believe in what is called being soft, and a great deal less in being hard, I believe in caring much more, in taking more trouble, in being much more constructive and in never, on any account, at any moment, taking 241 up the position that we cannot be bothered with the delinquent. That is one of the unforgivable offences.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I shall not keep the House for more than a minute or two. May I first of all thank the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, for proving that it is possible for a Minister to wind up on a fairly wide subject in a short space of time? I hope that all the other Ministers and all the Opposition speakers will learn the lesson. May I congratulate my noble friend Lord Mowbray and Stourton on his maiden speech, which was not only excellent but, if he will forgive my saying so—and I am not being patronising—very well delivered. We shall always be glad to see him here. The House realises fully that it always gains a particular added strength when another Yorkshireman comes to it. I should like to thank both the Ministers who have done their best to answer the questions I have put. The noble Earl, the Leader of the House, dealt to some extent with the subject of my next debate. I agree that we cannot separate the two subjects, except for the purposes of debate; though I still think it was wise to try to do so.
As regards the answers of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, I am in one way satisfied and in another disappointed. I am satisfied that the present Government are running along the lines that we laid down in the Home Office and are continuing our policy in a satisfactory manner. But I am a little disappointed in that when we were in office we were always producing new thinking on certain subjects; but there does not appear to be any new thinking since we left office, although I dare say our line of progress has been furthered. I hope when we come to the Autumn debate that new and modern thinking on this question by speakers on the other side, such as was put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Simey, will be much more in evidence 242 than it has been to-day. I am a little disappointed that there were no new ideas put forward on how to help the police. I know it is largely a question of money; but I had hoped to hear a good deal more about it. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, was not able to say anything about whether we can have different rules for promotion, and so on, in the C.I.D.; but I hope he has taken that point.
I am grateful to everyone who has taken part in this debate. I think, having been in the Home Office, that it will help the Department to take hold of ideas that may be new, or may be newly-put. I hope the debate has been useful, and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.