—Says Liverpool Paper
HOME OFFICE INTERVIEWED Laws That Make For Correction Not Punishment
MUCH CONCERN HAS BEEN EXPRTYSED AT WHAT ARE DESCRIBED AS THE " RISING FIGURES OF JUVENILE CRIME."
One correspondent in this issue (page 6) quotes figures from a Liverpool magazine in which the juvenile crime statistics of that city are given as: General percentage of 8o council schools 2.64; in 42 Church of England schools 3.73 and in 5o Catholic schools 5.36.
These figures were given as from a recent police return.
It is to be suspected that the manner of publication of these figures may have a propaganda end in view, probably linked up with the schools question.
It is to be doubted also whether the police-return actually used the word crime. as the Home Office informed the Catholic Herald reporter that the whole purpose of recent legislation has been to remove children from the criminal courts and to save them from the stigma of criminality.
CRIME THAT DOES NOT EXIST
That being so the figures advanced in the argument are vitiated at source because they are being made to apply to something which does not exist. As regards the figures of juvenile delinquency Mr. J. F. Henderson, Assistant Secretary of the Home Office, has stated: "Statistics are the most abstract of documents and not everyone will be found to place the same interpretation upon them in relation to what it is now the fashion to call juvenile deliqueney. . . It is impossible to interpret statistics about the waywardness of the young in a way which everyone will approve and the safe course lies between the depths of pessimism and the heights of optimism."
As to the increase in the number of children brought before the children's courts, Mr. Henderson points out that each time a new statute relating to the young has been passed, the immediate effect is an apparent rise in the number of offences, " This rise is due not to a sudden efflorescence of iniquity in the communtiy, but to a desire, on the part of those in a position to put the law in motion, to make use of the new methods of treatment provided by the law.
" Thus the statistics for the years following 1907 and 1908, when the Probation of Offenders Act and the Children Act were passed, show a sudden jump in the number of cases dealt with by the courts."
Home Office Assurance The number of indictable offences committed by boys of from eight to seventeen in 1935 showing a jump of 23,944 arc discounted by the fact that there were more boys of fourteen and fifteen in 1935 and that the Act of 1933 was showing increasing effect.
In fact the Home Office refuses to panic about " juvenile delinquency" and even objects to the phrase as giving "the impression that there are a number of boys and girls in the country wholly given over to delinquency."
Only Technical Offenders To quote Mr. Henderson again :— " This is untrue—most of the boys and girls appearing before the juvenile court are boys and girls who on occasion have broken one or other of the network of rules elaborated by organised society and who for the most part of their waking existence are interested in work, games, food and amusement, and, if lucky, in all four."
That there is a problem everyone knows, but it is no worse than before and the cure lies in education and training.