Dorothy Baker (Borstal Sentence).

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 4th July 1922.

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Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

27.

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the sentence of three years' detention at Borstal passed upon Dorothy Baker, a girl of 19, at the Chelmsford Quarter Sessions, on 28th June, for breaking her recognisance subsequent to stealing a bicycle and handbag; whether he is aware that two mental specialists had stated that she was in need of detention in a home for mental treatment; whether he is aware that her former employer had made arrangements whereby she could have been placed in such a home; whether he is aware that a fund has been raised by a local paper to enable the cost at the home to be met; and whether he will now take steps to have Dorothy Baker removed from the Borstal Institution so that she may be treated in this manner for her mental abnormality?

Photo of Mr John Baird Mr John Baird , Rugby

My right hon. Friend's attention had not been previously drawn to this case, but he has made inquiry and finds that the girl, who had four previous convictions, was committed to Borstal after the usual inquiries by the police and prison authorities as to her suitability for Borstal treatment. The police stated that she had been examined by various doctors and specialists, but that she had not been certified. The, communication sent by her former employer to the prison authorities does not indicate that arrangements had been made to place her in a home; on the contrary, he said, "I am afraid this cannot be done." I have no knowledge of a fund having been raised. The girl's mental condition will receive special attention in the Borstal Institution, but at present there is no reason to think there is any better place available for her.

Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

Is the hon. Member aware that the Essex Justices omitted to consult a mental specialist on this girl's condition, and is it not very important that the Essex Magistrates should consult a mental specialist before committing a girl to Borstal whose mental condition was gravely in question?

Photo of Mr John Baird Mr John Baird , Rugby

I was not aware of the circumstance mentioned by my Noble Friend, but I will have that matter looked into.