asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department my what ratio the number of offences of violence against the person by males under 17 years, other than robbery or robbery with violence, increased or decreased during the period 1945 to 1947; and if he will give comparable figures for the periods 1948–50 and for 1948–60.
Comparing 1947 with 1945, there was a decrease of 29 per cent. in the number of males under the age of 17 found guilty in England and Wales of indictable offences classified in the Criminal Statistics as violence against the person. As compared with 1948, there were increases of 38 per cent. in 1950 and 584 per cent. in 1960.
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that there has been a tremendous increase in this sort of crime, which is causing widespread concern? The significant change of trend from a decrease to an increase in 1948, when the courts lost their power to order corporal punishment for this sort of thing, suggests that that power may have played a useful part in dealing with violent young thugs.
That may be an inference to be drawn, but in fact in the years 1945–47 I can find very little record of any sentences of that sort having been imposed.
If my right hon. Friend refers to Appendix B of the last Report of his Advisory Council on this matter he will see that the figures are given—I do not doubt that they are right—showing that use was made of this power.
The figures included in that Report are, of course, accurate.
While my right hon. Friend appreciates that both he and I, and indeed all the rest of us, want exactly the same thing—
that is, first of all to control this wave of criminal violence and then to reduce it, is he satisfied that the methods at present employed—prisons, borstals, detention centres and so on—are acting or will act as deterrents to crimes of violence?
We all feel that the new methods which are now being tried out must be given a chance. We have a greatly increased number of detention centres and the general scheme under the recent Criminal Justice Act is about to be put on trial. I am the first to hope that that trial will be successful.