§ 44. Mr. Channon
asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the growing need, he can now make any further statement as to the provision of increased accommodation in approved schools and remand homes?
§ Mr. H. Morrison
During the last two years 24 new approved schools have been opened. Eight others are in course of preparation, and negotiations are in progress for certain other premises. In the same period schemes for 36 new remand homes have been started and of these 24 have been opened and seven others should be opening shortly. I am glad to say that the number of boys and girls awaiting admission to approved schools is now somewhat lower than it was a year ago. I hope that before the end of the present year there may be a substantial improvement in the present position.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the number of young persons awaiting accommodation?
§ 57. Sir P. Hurd
asked the Home Secretary how many girls have absconded from approved schools in the last three months; and how many have been arrested by the police and why?
§ Mr. Morrison
In the last three months of 1942, 167 girls absconded from approved schools. The great majority have returned within a short time, some of their own accord, some as a result of steps taken by their parents, and others brought back by the police. Section 82 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, empowers the police to apprehend absconders and bring them before the court, but in many cases it is unnecessary for the police to do more than to bring the child back to the school in the same way as they bring to his home any child who is lost or has strayed.
§ Sir P. Hurd
Has the right hon. Gentleman received representations that although these national figures may seem small, it is a serious matter in constituencies like mine, where these girls are a perfect pest around the camps, and that magistrates, local police and the military authorities are puzzled to know what to do with these girls? Cannot they be restricted by the managers of approved schools?
§ Mr. Morrison
I am aware of the point to which the hon. Member draws attention, but all sorts of girls are all sorts of problems to all sorts of people. We could, of course, lock them in, but my 1048 own experience on a management committee of one of these approved schools leads me to believe that the psychological effect of locking them in is worse than not doing so.