Publication - Independent report

The KILBRANDON Report

Published: 1 Oct 2003

Report of the expert committee on how to deal with children in trouble which influenced the establishment of the Children's Hearings system

111 page PDF

351.7 kB

111 page PDF

351.7 kB

Contents
The KILBRANDON Report
Page 21

111 page PDF

351.7 kB

THE KILBRANDON REPORT

APPENDIX 'C'
Police Juvenile Liaison Schemes

THE LIVERPOOL SCHEME

(The notes which follow are, by permission, reproduced from the booklet, The Police and Children, published by the Chief Constable of Liverpool Second Edition, 1962.)

1. Following the second world war and the alarming rise in all forms of crime including that committed by juveniles, we considered that much more could and should be done in a positive way to prevent children from becoming delinquents and in guiding those who had come to our notice through misbehaviour in such a way as to prevent them from getting into further trouble. In 1950 the problem was carefully surveyed and of the school population of some 125,000 it was found that the number of crimes known to the police as having been committed by juveniles was 2,248 which represented 1.8 per cent of all the children of school age in the city. It may not seem a very high percentage, but when compared with the percentage of crime which had been committed by the adult population, i.e., 0.5 per cent, the problem was distinctly disturbing.

2. One very significant feature which also emerged was the fact that a large number of criminal offences committed by juveniles were not being brought to the notice of the police. Many children caught shoplifting and committing other forms of pilfering were not reported to the police because, as the manager of one very large departmental store explained, "they could not provide sufficient staff to go through the procedure of attending Court in all such cases and the recovery of the stolen property at the time was the most satisfactory way of dealing with the matter". However, the ultimate result of this policy meant that many children thought they were getting away without punishment for their misbehaviour and continued stealing until, inevitably, they came into the hands of the police. Quite often by this stage their moral values had been tainted.

3. Our pilot experiment of juvenile liaison officers was brought into being whereby the co-operation was sought of the various shops, stores, warehouses, etc., in order that all juveniles caught pilfering were notified to the police without discrimination. With the co-operation of parents and the help and advice of teachers and the various social services, it was decided that as soon as the police were aware that a child had committed an offence for the first time, and it was not a serious one, and provided the offender admitted the facts and the owner of the property or persons offended against did not wish to prosecute, then the specially selected and trained officer would, with the full co-operation of parents, take the child under his aegis. Our specific object was to prevent a recurrence of this bad behaviour.

4. The success of this pilot venture led to the establishment in 1952 on a firm basis of -the Juvenile Liaison Department and its incorporation as part of the Crime Prevention Branch of the Liverpool City Police. It is now staffed by two sergeants, seventeen constables (including four policewomen) under the supervision of a Chief Inspector.

5. The selection of these officers is made from personnel who have applied to be considered for the work. They must be able, experienced, possess the qualities of understanding and leadership; and they must have had a considerable background and experience in youth work. A searching assessment is made of each candidate and those selected undergo a period of training under the guidance of an experienced juvenile liaison officer in the field. As vacancies occur the most suitable candidate is appointed. All the officers work in plain clothes and devote their full time to every aspect of juvenile crime. They are allowed a reasonably wide discretion in adopting any measure which might be expected to benefit the child.

6. The success of the scheme depends on the whole-hearted co-operation of all who are interested in the direction and welfare of children, and it is the duty of each juvenile liaison officer to:

(a) Establish and maintain a close liaison with head teachers, ministers of religion, youth club leaders, and any other persons in their respective divisions who are interested or concerned in the welfare of children or young persons.

(b) Collaborate with the probation service without usurping or overlapping any of its functions.

(c) Keep individual records of juveniles dealt with or who have come to the notice of the police in respect of offences committed by them.

(d) Maintain a regular contact with juveniles cautioned by the police, and their parents.

7. Regular monthly conferences are held by the Chief Constable at which all the officers must attend to discuss policy and the various human problems which inevitably arise and which must be resolved.

8. Juvenile liaison officers are empowered to deal with all children and young persons:

(1) Under the age of 17 years;

(2) Who have committed a minor offence of stealing or something similar (N.B.-crimes of breaking and entering premises are not considered minor offences);

(3) Who admit the offence;

(4) Who have not previously come to the notice of the police; and

(5) Whose parents agree to co-operate with the police by accepting any help and advice about the child's future.

9. The decision whether to prosecute a child or to administer a caution and refer him to the juvenile liaison officer is made by the Assistant Chief Constable (Crime), and generally it is the policy to caution rather than prosecute a juvenile who is known to be a first offender and who comes within the above category. Of course, account must be taken of the whole circumstances of each individual case, e.g., the degree of temptation, and any aggravating or ameliorating factors.

10. Juveniles dealt with under the scheme are divided broadly into two classes:

(a) children who have committed an offence; and
(b) potential delinquents.

11. The first category come to the juvenile liaison officer through the normal police channels of the Uniform Branch and Criminal Investigation Department, and are cautioned by the Divisional Chief Superintendent in whose division the offence was committed. Afterwards, the juvenile liaison officer has a talk to the parents, explains to them the facilities of the scheme and, provided they are willing, accepts the child into the scheme. If the parents refuse to cooperate, the juvenile liaison officer simply withdraws from the case. Happily, this rarely happens; the majority of the parents are only too willing to take advantage of his help.

12. The second class, the potential delinquents, are children who are not known to have committed any offence, but are brought to the notice of the juvenile liaison officers by their parents, teachers, or by other police officers, for consistently playing truant, becoming unruly and out of hand at home or school, staying out late at night, behaving in a disorderly manner, or frequenting undesirable places-in other words, juveniles whose behaviour is considered morally harmful and which, without correction, might develop into criminal tendencies.

13. Naturally, in its initial stages, the scheme encountered a certain amount of distrust, particularly from a certain strata of parents who found it difficult to believe that the work of these particular policemen and women was designed to help to keep their children out of trouble rather than to prosecute them. By good faith and patience this barrier has gradually been overcome, and the better understanding and experience of the work and the growth of the numbers dealt with as potential delinquents illustrates the improved understanding which now exists.

14. In addition to these two categories, the juvenile liaison officers at the request of parents and teachers often give a timely but friendly word of warning or advice. In 619 instances this was done in 1960 and our actions in relation to these and potential offenders reflect the extent of crime prevention work which is being done amongst the young people of the city.

15. The juvenile liaison officer is there to assist the parents with their child, not to supervise. On receiving a case he makes every effort to learn the background of the boy or girl and discover the underlying reasons for the offence. Its seriousness is impressed on both the offender and on the parents, and arrangements are made with the father and mother for a period of care and guidance, which naturally varies according to the child and its home environment. The officer's object is to foster in the mind of the child ideas which will lead to responsible citizenship and, where necessary, bring home to the parents their individual responsibilities.

16. With the parents' consent, the head teacher of the child's school is informed of the facts of the case and the officer's proposed course of action. In this way additional and helpful information is obtained about the character and behaviour of the child at school. Should the cause of the trouble have originated from within the school, for example, from the formation and participation in a gang, the school master assists by helping to break up the association and keep a special supervision on the child's conduct during schooltime; if the child is a practising member of a religious denomination, his minister may be approached to see if he can give any further help; and if he is a member of a youth club, the leader may be able to assist. Where a child not a member of any organisation wishes to join one and the officer considers that he or she would benefit.

11. The first category come to the juvenile liaison officer through the normal police channels of the Uniform Branch and Criminal Investigation Department, and are cautioned by the Divisional Chief Superintendent in whose division the offence was committed. Afterwards, the juvenile liaison officer has a talk to the parents, explains to them the facilities of the scheme and, provided they are willing, accepts the child into the scheme. If the parents refuse to cooperate, the juvenile liaison officer simply withdraws from the case. Happily, this rarely happens; the majority of the parents are only too willing to take advantage of his help.

12. The second class, the potential delinquents, are children who are not known to have committed any offence, but are brought to the notice of the juvenile liaison officers by their parents, teachers, or by other police officers, for consistently playing truant, becoming unruly and out of hand at home or school, staying out late at night, behaving in a disorderly manner, or frequenting undesirable places-in other words, juveniles whose behaviour is considered morally harmful and which, without correction, might develop into criminal tendencies.

13. Naturally, in its initial stages, the scheme encountered a certain amount of distrust, particularly from a certain strata of parents who found it difficult to believe that the work of these particular policemen and women was designed to help to keep their children out of trouble rather than to prosecute them. By good faith and patience this barrier has gradually been overcome, and the better understanding and experience of the work and the growth of the numbers dealt with as potential delinquents illustrates the improved understanding which now exists.

14. In addition to these two categories, the juvenile liaison officers at the request of parents and teachers often give a timely but friendly word of warning or advice. In 619 instances this was done in 1960 and our actions in relation to these and potential offenders reflect the extent of crime prevention work which is being done amongst the young people of the city.

15. The juvenile liaison officer is there to assist the parents with their child, not to supervise. On receiving a case he makes every effort to learn the background of the boy or girl and discover the underlying reasons for the offence. Its seriousness is impressed on both the offender and on the parents, and arrangements are made with the father and mother for a period of care and guidance, which naturally varies according to the child and its home environment. The officer's object is to foster in the mind of the child ideas which will lead to responsible citizenship and, where necessary, bring home to the parents their individual responsibilities.

16. With the parents' consent, the head teacher of the child's school is informed of the facts of the case and the officer's proposed course of action. In this way additional and helpful information is obtained about the character and behaviour of the child at school. Should the cause of the trouble have originated from within the school, for example, from the formation and participation in a gang, the school master assists by helping to break up the association and keep a special supervision on the child's conduct during schooltime; if the child is a practising member of a religious denomination, his minister may be approached to see if he can give any further help; and if he is a member of a youth club, the leader may be able to assist. Where a child not a member of any organisation wishes to join one and the officer considers that he or she would benefit, arrangements are made for the child to be introduced to a youth club. From time to time he visits the child's home, talks to the parents and the child, visits the school, observes the child at play, until it is clear that his help is no longer needed and only then does he close the case.

17. Juvenile liaison officers keep their records in the form of individual case papers which record reports of visits, etc., together with other useful details regarding the offence, character and home background of the offender. They limit their role of social workers to maintaining a liaison between parents, schools, clubs, ministers and voluntary services.

18. The majority of children committing offences initially are naughty little boys invariably from families whose parents have not taken the slightest interest in teaching them the difference between right and wrong. These simple cases detected in the early stages are the ones dealt with by the juvenile liaison officer, and it is he, with the help of the school teacher, minister and the club leader, who remedies this deficiency in parental responsibility. Often this is all that is necessary to effect a "cure".

19. If there is the slightest suspicion that a child requires more specialised treatment, the officer hands the case over to the appropriate authority who is much more competent to deal with it, such as the School Medical Officer, Child Guidance Clinic, or the Psychiatric Department of the Children's Hospital, etc.

20. On many occasions the liaison officers are called upon to address children in schools on "Citizenship" and at certain "critical" times of the year such as immediately prior to Guy Fawkes night and the regular school holidays, they tour the schools advising children about their behaviour. They are regularly invited to meetings of Parent-Teacher Associations, thus maintaining a sympathetic and balanced relationship.

21. Every juvenile liaison officer has been co-opted to a number of committees whose work concerns the youth of the city, including those of the Youth Welfare Association, inaugurated by the Youth Welfare Advisory Committee under the patronage of the Director of Education which comprises members of the different social organisations interested in young people.

22. Close personal contact is thus maintained with the leaders and members of all youth clubs in their divisions and their help has frequently been requested at annual camps and at courses held for unemployed youth. In areas where facilities for the physical development of children and young people have been found to be inadequate, our officers have done much to provide for these children acceptable and satisfying leisure-time activities.

23. There is a happy and helpful liaison and mutual regard between our officers and those of the Children's Department, Probation Service, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, etc. If on making his initial enquiry at a home, the juvenile liaison officer discovered that one of these services is already actively interested, he immediately makes contact with the appropriate officer to explain our interest and then withdraws from the case. No juvenile liaison officer is authorised to maintain visits to homes at which other authorities are calling.

24. Liverpool is most fortunate in its many valuable voluntary social services, all of whom readily assist in this police service. Indeed, it must be emphasised that the Juvenile Liaison Scheme could not have been such a success without the unselfish support and co-operation given to it by all the voluntary and statutory social services in the city, and especially the help and encouragement of the Director of Education.

25. The scheme has now been in operation in Liverpool for 10 years. A tremendous amount of work has been enthusiastically performed by the juvenile liaison officers, and there is no doubt that a great deal of good has been done. The success of social and preventive work cannot be measured entirely from statistics, and in any case, it was never envisaged that dramatic reductions in the figures for juvenile crime could be effected quickly. The successes achieved will seldom come to light and will be known only to those intimately concerned, but sufficient has been seen to prove that the employment of these officers is more than justified, and that -but for their services many more children would have drifted into delinquency and ultimately to crime.