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Juvenile Offenders

Volume 979: debated on Thursday 28 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what response his Department has made to the proposals in so far as they refer to his responsibilities of the report "In Whose Best Interests" published by the Cobden Trust and MIND, a copy of which has been supplied to him.

We shall take account of this report, and of other published material on the treatment of juvenile offenders, in preparing our own proposals for amendment of the law.

Is the Minister aware of the serious position now obtaining, in that there are twice the number of children in institutions of different sorts as there are adult prisoners? Does he realise that tranquillisers are being used to control children in some of the institutions and homes? Does he accept that the rehabilitation record of borstals and detention centres is not exactly high?

Why is not the Minister acting on the report of the Select Committee on Expenditure on the working of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, and caring for very many more children in community and foster homes? Will he take that on board and ensure that reasonable rates are given to foster parents?

I accept the importance of children being treated in the community. I take on board many of the points made by the hon. Lady. I do not accept the general condemnations that seemed to be implied in the first part of the question. They are the sorts of points that we shall take into account in our review of these matters.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that statistics are now collected of the amounts of psychotropic drugs that are administered in prisons, while they are not collected for the amounts of psychotropic drugs used in institutions under the control of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services? Will he consult his right hon. Friend so that statistics about drug intake are collected even-handedly between his Department and the Department of Health and Social Security?

I shall be happy to draw to the attention of my right hon. Friend the point made by the hon. Gentleman.