Committee on Children and Young Persons (1961) Report of the Committee on Children and Young Persons (Chairman: Viscount Ingleby) Cmnd 1191 London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office
Though there had been a shakeout of most welfare services in the aftermath of the Second World War and some changes to the criminal justice services, it had been nearly thirty years since the previous committee (Departmental Committee on the Treatment of Young Offenders, 1927) had reported on juvenile delinquency, which had seen peaks in 1943 across Europe and in England and Wales in 1951. During its deliberations, there had been a further rise in juvenile delinquency and expectations were high that it could come up with solutions to this problem.
- There should be a greater emphasis on prevention than on cure.
- “The State’s principal duty is to assist the family in carrying out its proper functions” (para. 12 p. 8).
- Investigation and diagnosis are more important than an immediate move to treatment.
- Improved coordination and better information for families are more important than reorganisation.
- The system worked apart from the anomaly that the welfare provisions meant that a child could be sent away from home for a petty offence.
- All proceedings involving children under twelve should be for “care, protection, discipline or control” and should involve all parties, including the children.
- There should be a 28-day limit on bringing prosecutions and ‘juvenile liaison schemes’ should be extended.
- There should be no significant changes to juvenile courts but children should be able to take a simpler oath. Reports should not be read in their entirety in open court. Both parents should be expected to attend. Free legal aid should be available through a panel of children’s lawyers, and the London appeals process should be extended to the rest of the country.
- Supervision orders rather than probation orders should be used for children under fourteen.
- There should be more attendance centres for first offenders from “normal home backgrounds”.
- Punitive detention in a remand home should only be used if there was no other alternative.
- Remand homes should be developed as observation centres.
- Approved schools and approved probation hostels should continue largely as before with some amendments to their running and training for teachers and house staff in approved schools.
- Children’s Departments should be allowed to initiate prosecutions for cruelty or neglect.
The Ingleby Committee was appointed on 3 October 1956, met for 49 days and heard from 151 witnesses.
Part One consisted of Chapter 1 General approaches, in which the Committee review the trends in juvenile delinquency; after an increase during the war and another peak in 1951, there had been a decrease for three years but by 1958 juvenile delinquency had exceeded the previous peak in 1938.
They believed there was a need for greater emphasis on prevention rather than cure as the Departmental Committee on the Treatment of Young Offenders (1927) had said but this was not in their terms of reference. For them prevention started from the parental duty to bring up children and there should be advice and support for those who could not do this.
They summarise the post-War legislative changes, stressing that less than 2% of children ended up in court and that “very little is known about what causes a rise in crime” (para. 11 p. 7). Indeed, they were surprised at how few young people got into trouble and how few families failed, adding that “the State’s principal duty is to assist the family in carrying out its proper functions” (para. 12 p. 8). While compulsion might sometimes be necessary, treatment was more likely to be successful if it was voluntary. People should be aware of the possibility of breakdown and community services needed to be co-ordinated to prevent breakdown.
Part Two consisted of Chapter 2 Should local authorities in England and Wales responsible for child care under the Children Act 1948, be given new powers & duties to prevent or forestall the suffering of children though neglect in their own homes?
They note that the Children Act 1948 covered children living away from home and Home Office Circular 160/1948 had encouraged local authorities to improve home circumstances to prevent the need to take children into care or to return children in care back home, but there was no power under the Children Act 1948 to provide cash or kind for these purposes.
They also note the responsibilities of the National Health Service, under the National Assistance Act 1948 and of local authority education and housing authorities. Alongside these were the NSPCC, Family Service Units, Family Welfare Association, Women’s Voluntary Service, Salvation Army, moral welfare organisations and the National Marriage Guidance Council.
Though there was encouragement for services to work in co-ordination, the Working Party on Social Workers in the Local Authority Health and Services (1959) (Chapter 12) had said that:
- no one pattern of co-ordination is appropriate to all areas;
- not enough use is made of existing arrangements;
- a multiplicity of visiting is not bad but uncoordinated visiting is;
- there is a need for a systematic study of co-ordination; and
- there is a need to review the arrangements for confidentiality during co-ordination.
They stress the importance of:
- detection of families at risk,
- investigation and diagnosis, and
At the point of detection people need to recognise the potential for involving others; investigation and diagnosis were more important that an immediate move to treatment. This could perhaps be met by family advice centres where treatment was based on consultation.
Some witnesses had argued for reorganisation but the Committee believed the immediate needs were for improved co-ordination and for better information for families.
Part Three consisted of Chapter 3 General principles of jurisdiction over children and young persons. The Committee summarise the common law principles of:
- equality before the law,
- criminal liability but a presumption of doli incapax from seven to fourteen,
- exemption from criminal liability, meaning that no further steps can be taken, and
- punishment, where given, being generally regardless of age.
In 1847 summary trials for children under fourteen charged with larceny had been introduced and by 1879 most cases involving children were being dealt with in magistrates’ courts. The Children Act 1908 introduced separate courts and the Juvenile Courts (Metropolis) Act 1920 set up a separate system for juvenile courts, including a requirement for one magistrate to be a woman. This was extended in the Children and Young Persons Act 1932 (consolidated into the 1933 Act) which also allowed a lay magistrate to chair a bench, and from 1936 stipendiary magistrates had largely become confined to adult courts. The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 had increased the age of criminal liability to eight.
However, the Industrial Schools Act 1861 had allowed children in need of care and control to be taken into care, a principle extended by the Children Act 1908 and the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. There was no lower age limit, so the outcome could be the worse option of being sent to approved school without any finding of guilt.
The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 permitted fostering and probation supervision of a child in need of care and protection and the Criminal Justice Act 1948 abolished whipping but introduced Detention Centres.
The Committee note that courts have to have regard for the welfare of child and that the same court has to deal with issues of criminal responsibility and the welfare of child.
There are two perspectives:
- The state should intervene wherever there is benefit for the child.
- The state should intervene only if grounds are established.
In general the current system worked except for the problem that exercising the welfare principle may lead to a child being sent away from home for a petty offence. Among the suggestions that had been made were:
- a non-judicial tribunal,
- a family service for children under twelve, or sixteen, and
- a remedial board.
But most witnesses had favoured retaining juvenile courts because juvenile courts generally worked, though there was a need to involve children’s parents more. So the Committee was recommending a continuing move from the notion of courts to a focus on care, protection or control.
In practice the age of criminal responsibility in the sense of being subject to adult penalties was actually higher than eight; but the question was not the age of criminal responsibility but the type of proceedings to which a child was subject. The Committee suggests that all cases involving children under twelve should:
- be for “care, protection, discipline or control”;
- involve all parties including the children; and
- involve consultation with the police and the local authority.
Section 61(1) of the Children Act 1948 should be amended so that the NSPCC could report facts but not initiate proceedings.
The court should be able to:
- make an approved school order,
- make a Fit Person Order,
- order someone to enter into recognisances, or
- order probation supervision.
The court should not be able to order fines or make detention centre orders and doli incapax should be abolished.
The Committee note that the age of adult jurisdiction had been raised from sixteen to seventeen by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and that the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (1957) had recommended raising the age to eighteen but they saw no merit in using juvenile courts to deal with homosexual offences.
In summary, therefore, they had decided to leave the idea of youth courts on the table, to make no changes to court powers but to recommend a new procedure for children under twelve which assumed:
- shared responsibility for upbringing,
- responsibility being based not just on knowledge but on the capacity to choose,
- both knowledge and the power to choose developing,
- encouraging children to choose the right, and
- children accepting increasing responsibility.
They recognise the difficulties for children in distinguishing between punishment and treatment and think it is important to stress fairness.
Part Four consisted of seven chapters. In Chapter 4 Proceedings up to the time of appearance before the court, they recommend:
- a limit of 28 days to bring a prosecution,
- an appearance before a magistrate within 72 hours if a child is detained,
- an appearance before a magistrate within seven days if the child is on a Place of Safety Order, and
- the parents’ right to bring a child before court being abolished,
but they reject any requirements concerning police questioning of children. They favour “juvenile liaison schemes” similar to that set up in Liverpool in 1949 and considered in the 1954 Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders report. Only the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police had rejected the idea, arguing that the police should not be deciding the boundaries of the criminal justice system.
In Chapter 5 The constitution, jurisdiction and procedures of the courts that deal with young people, they note the existing procedures, including some inconsistencies in the application of upper age rules and some lack of clarity in the rules about where a juvenile should appear. They recommend that, where jointly charged with an adult, the juvenile’s case should be remitted to the juvenile court for a decision but they reject the idea of a juvenile court dealing with adult offenders in, for example, abuse cases, only accepting this in cases of school attendance.
They reject making the courts more informal but think that the quality of the premises and the frequency of sittings is important. Juveniles should be able to use a simpler oath and be able to make an unsworn statement. It is important that both parents attend court and the legislation should be amended to make this clear.
They reject any change to the standard of proof and argue against the indiscriminate reading of reports in court; rather there might be a separate confidential section which was not read in court but whose contents would be disclosed to parents.
They reject the arguments that no reports should be prepared before a case had been proven because enquiries might be needed anyway. It is very important to include reports on education in reports to courts and to inform headteachers of the outcomes of cases.
They reject any increase in the period of remand but suggest there should be a power to adjourn if the child was already on probation; approved schools could be used if a child was too difficult to hold in a remand home. Courts should be reminded that they did not have to have the child present to extend an interim order.
They reject the idea of wiping convictions, as these are only one type of fact about young people and would not affect care and protection cases. However, they draw attention to R v. Van Peltz 1 KB  157 which banned generally prejudicial statements and Maxwell v. DPP AC  309 which banned any reference to previous charges that had resulted in an acquittal.
They reject any change to the right for a child under fourteen to elect trial by jury if charged with someone over fourteen. They summarise the arguments for and against pleading guilty in absentia but reject this for juveniles.
They recommend providing free legal aid for children and young people but only through a panel of children’s lawyers. They reject any changes in publicity powers generally and recommend the removal of the requirement that Schedule 1 offences more than six months old should go to trial.
They recommend the extension of the London appeals process to the rest of England and Wales and stress the importance of reports to other courts if a child appears in them.
In Chapter 6 Methods of punishment or other treatment available to the courts in dealing with children and young persons, they begin by summarising the existing orders and recommend increases in the fines limits and clarifying the probation officer’s situation regarding multiple orders.
They reject any move to dispense with ‘willingness’ and recommend the use of supervision rather than Probation Orders for children under fourteen including for offences. They reject any extension to probation conditions of residence but support more frequent reviews than every six months.
They note that attendance centres were most effective with first offenders from normal home backgrounds and not for recidivists. They recommend allowing Attendance Centre Orders for offences not punishable by prison and lowering the age range; in any case the number of attendance centres needed to be increased.
They reject the use of fixed term Fit Person Orders or of interim Fit Person Orders for offenders but recommend that section 84(8) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 be amended to enable courts to make any order that could have been made at the time of the original order, not just an Approved School Order. The original complainant should be notified of any intention to amend a Fit Person Order.
They reject removing from local authorities the power to return children on Fit Person Orders home and recommend that local authorities provide reports voluntarily to courts on children on Fit Person Orders, that parents whose children are on Fit Persons Orders be required to inform the local authority of any change of address as is the case for parents whose children are in care under Section 1 of the Children Act 1948 and that the age at which police can detain an absconder without warrant be increased to eighteen.
They reject powers to enable courts to direct children to go to a special school and, while rejecting any change to punitive detention in remand homes, recommend that it should only be used where no other method of treatment was suitable.
In relation to the four existing detention centres, they recommend removing a number of anomalies but keeping the three months limit for fourteen to seventeen year olds, noting that the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders (1959) had recommended a longer term for 17-21 year olds and supporting the Advisory Council’s recommendation of twelve months after-care with the sanction of return during that period.
They reject taking responsibility for Approved School Orders from magistrates stressing the advantages of the current system but recommend clarifying the situation when a child on a Fit Person Order goes to an approved school.
They recommend that a juvenile court should be able to commit a young person to Borstal to avoid waiting for the Quarter Sessions and that the limited power to impose a prison sentence on seventeen-year-olds should be further curtailed. They recommend extending the power to enforce Supervision Orders from seventeen to eighteen years and allowing the court to impose any of the penalties available at time of the original order if the young person was brought back.
They recommend removing the power to name the probation officer but allowing endorsement of Supervision Orders to name a place of residence up to three weeks after an order was made in cases where a place was not immediately available.
They reject the use of interim orders or the power to make ‘wards of court’ and any changes to Contribution Orders, for example, when children were earning before their sixteenth birthday. They also reject changes to the truancy provisions.
They note that only one submission had asked for the reintroduction of corporal punishment.
In Chapter 7 The remand home system, they note that the Youthful Offenders Act 1901 had given permissive powers to set up remand homes, the Children Act 1908 had required the police to provide them and the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 had required local authorities to provide them for:
- children on Place of Safety Orders,
- children on adjournments,
- children awaiting approved school, and
They were provided under section 15(2) of the Children Act 1948 while the Children and Young Persons (Amendment) Act 1952 had allowed the designation of special reception centres for under twelves. On 31 December 1959 there had been thirty-one boys’ remand homes, fifteen girls’ and three mixed, accommodating 921 boys and 295 girls along with four voluntary homes; over 1959 there had been 14,145 admissions with an average stay of 23 days and average occupancy of 74%. They were governed by the Remand Home Rules1939.
The Committee recommend they be developed as observation centres but reject any classifying function other than possibly in London or other metropolitan areas. Rather, classifying schools should be used for difficult remands.
They recommend using psychiatric facilities for children under observation, mixed homes with appropriate segregation and increasing the age limit to eighteen with an option for dealing with absconders.
In Chapter 8 The approved school system, they list the existing schools and the provisions relating to them, noting that 95% of the boys were offenders but only 36% of the girls and that approved school training had a higher cost. However, they reject any merger of the approved schools with any other system of residential care.
Referring to the Durand Report (Home Office, 1960) they stress the need for a retirement age and for an advice manual for managers and recommend regular meetings of inspectors with managers. However, as no-one had been able to demonstrate any significant differences between offenders and non-offenders, they saw no grounds for segregating them. They note that most of the children were educationally backward but that some were intelligent and therefore that flexibility was important.
They thought that the need for transfers would increase as schools specialised and recommend that children should usually go back to the classifying school. Specialisation, however, created problems because of the small number of girls’ schools; schools needed to be able to increase the variety of staff without losing staff-girl relationships. They note the problem of pregnant girls and the importance of relationships with parents but recommend an increase in the number of after-care hostels.
Though they thought that the provisions for detention and release were generally satisfactory, they could lead to unfairness where children who behaved well spent longer in after-care than those who had behaved badly. So they recommend restricting after-care, with the power to recall, to two years from the date of release with no further statutory supervision but the opportunity for voluntary supervision. While the formal responsibility for after-care should lie with the managers, it should be carried out by probation or local authority staff.
There was a need for further measures (beyond Borstal) to deal with absconding and they suggest that managers should be able to apply for a warrant to detain an unruly child for up to 72 hours. They recommend that any transfer from approved school to a Borstal should be made by the courts.
They recommend special training for teachers and house staff as recommended by the Committee of Enquiry (1946) and as provided for child care staff by the Home Office Central Training Council.
In Chapter 9 The approved probation home system, they recall that the Departmental Committee on the Treatment of Young Offenders (1927) had recommended abolishing the condition of residence but that the Home Office had rejected this and the Departmental Committee on Social Services in Summary Courts of Jurisdiction (1936) had approved the arrangements but recommended a six months maximum.
The Criminal Justice Act 1948 had given statutory recognition to hostels and the Home Office had published the Approved Probation Hostel and Home Rules 1949 in which conditions of residence could be for six to twelve months and absences would be dealt with as a breach. The Committee support the continuation of probation hostels with some changes to the rules.
In Chapter 10 The prevention of cruelty to and exposure to moral and physical danger of children and young persons, they ask for clarification of ‘mental suffering,’ reject an extension of ‘knowingly allowed’ in cases of child prostitution and reject punishing parents for leaving children in the care of the local authority.
They recommend that Children’s Departments be allowed to initiate prosecutions for cruelty and neglect - at the time only Education Departments could do this, an increase in fines and the retention of imprisonment alongside an emphasis on helping the family.
Part Five contains a Summary of recommendations followed by some Reservations and the Appendices.
Even though one might disagree with some of the Committee’s recommendations today, this still stands as one of the most comprehensive and humane attempts to deal with the issues of juvenile delinquency. The Committee’s starting point is remarkably to similar to the Preamble to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1991) - that everything should start from the family and that families who cannot carry out their responsibilities should receive help from the state.
Their preference for improved co-ordination and better information for families rather than reorganisation has been vindicated over the past half-century. None of the reorganisations have brought significant improvements to services for juvenile delinquents while local authorities have effectively abandoned young people to the criminal justice system (Gibbs and Hickson, 2009).
The Committee clearly set out the difference between the welfare model in which the state intervenes in children’s lives wherever it sees a need and the justice model in which the state only intervenes when clearly defined grounds exist and argues for the former for children under twelve and the latter for older children. Though they recognise the anomaly that welfare models of treatment for delinquency may result in people being incarcerated for longer than justice models (Lewis, 1972) and professionals have never really come up with an answer to this criticism, the welfare model they recommend would have meant that Mary Bell and Venables and Thompson would never have appeared in an adult court. Though not as ambitious as the proposals in the Kilbrandon Report (Committeee on Children and Persons, 1964), the success of the Scottish ‘children’s hearings’ suggests that the Committee were thinking on the right lines.
They were right to support the extension of ‘juvenile liaison schemes’ and the objection of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police did not and does not reflect the reality that the police are continually determining the boundaries of the criminal justice system (Sanders and Young, 2007). Today, police forces are actively adopting restorative justice and redefining the boundaries of criminal justice in new ways (Dixon, 2010; Skedgell, 2010).
Their recommendation that attendance centres be used for first offenders is almost a repeat of what happened to detention centres; these had been set up for first offenders but had come to be used for repeat offenders for whom they were never successful (Dunlop and McCabe, 1965); a similar process appears to have been happening with attendance centres.
Their recommendation that remand homes be developed as observation centres was consistent with their emphasis on proper investigation and diagnosis rather than precipitate entry into treatment and, following the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, remand homes were to become observation and assessment centres. However, in reality, investigation and diagnosis cannot be separated from treatment; any investigation changes the child and all treatment needs to reflect the needs of the child. Putting a child in a residential facility without assessing whether the style of relationships in the facility reflects the child’s developmental needs is a recipe for failure (Wolins, 1973).
The Committee did not pick up the declining success rate of the boys’ approved schools (Rose, 1967) and, like other reformers (Crowther, 1981), saw specialisation as the route to improvement, not recognising that it is the quality of the relationships within the schools (Millham et al., 1975) and with the parents (Taylor and Alpert, 1973) rather than the provision of after-care which has the most impact on success.
In their defence, they do repeatedly stress the need to involve parents in all the processes leading up to an appearance in court and, had their recommendations been implemented, we would have a more humane system of juvenile justice in England and Wales than we have today.
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