Mrs. M. Thatcher On “Crime and Punishment”
Finchley's Barrister Candidate Talks To Round Table
The prospective Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Finchley, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, addressed the members of Finchley Round Table at their fortnightly meeting at Temple Fortune.
Introduced by the Chairman, Mr. Alan Hosier, Mrs. Thatcher chose for her subject “Crime and Punishment” . Quoting statistics from official reports, the speaker said that during the years 1951 to 1956 there was a fairly steady fall in reported crime; unfortunately, the year 1957–58 saw a large increase in crimes reported, the number being nearly twice that for the year immediately before the last war. Of these crimes, those involving violence were four times those for the 1939 period and eight times in respect of offenders in the 16 to 21 age group. In 1939, there were approximately 3,000 cases of reported violence, in 1957, 12,000. In each year the police were informed of in the region of 750,000 crimes and of these less than 50 per cent. of the offenders were apprehended.
Turning then to the punishment aspect of the problem, Mrs. Thatcher said that no new prisons had been built in England during the last fifty years although there were during that time a number of approved schools and similar institutions opened. A particular aspect of the problem was overcrowding in the case of persons accused of an offence and remanded pending trial.
Speaking on the controversial question of flogging, Mrs. Thatcher said it was not generally realised by a number of people that this punishment was abolished as long ago as 1861 for the purpose of general punishment. Since that date, and until the last legislation in 1947, it was retained only for robbery with violence.
It was interesting to note that in the period 1861 to 1947, (apart from the few exceptions concerning prison staff) the number of reported cases of robbery with violence had not increased. In its place, or as an unwelcome addition in the crime wave, was violence without the element of robbery, a seemingly senseless pursuit which was causing the authorities some disquiet at the present time. It would appear that increased prosperity brought with it an increase in crime and offences arising out of poverty were now comparatively rare.
Young people with too much leisure and too much money tended to succumb to mischief and emulate their film or television heroes without the necessary regard of the consequences.
Concluding, Mrs. Thatcher briefly outlined the types of institutions and remand homes in the country and explained the essential service of after care and post-prison services to help offenders to take their natural place in the world.
Table members questioned Mrs. Thatcher at the conclusion of her speech, particularly dwelling on the blame placed on the youth of today and the lack of parental supervision being one of the main causes.
The meeting ended with an interesting discussion on the subject and Mr. Arthur Cattle proposed the vote of thanks to the speaker.