NE UV CO URTS
Catholic Herald Reporter MAJOR recommendation to "treat the family as a whole" is strongly made in the new Labour party report on crime. issued last week by a committee headed by Lord Longford. The report advocates the setting up of family courts. set in local communities, under a new Home Office department.
This would mean that the great number of children who appear in juvenile courts, as being in need of care and protection, or charged with a criminal offence, would instead appear before the "family courts". In these courts, the welfare of the family would also be a major consideration.
Other matters which the report envisages as being within the province of the Court are cases of parental neglect and cruelty, affiliation proceedings. adoption, consent to marry. domestic proceedings between husband and wife, custody of children, disputes under the Married Women's Property Act, and common assault proceedings between husband and wife.
The new courts would operate in relationship with local family service units.
of unmarried mothers, and especially illegitimate children, calls for special consideration in the context of this service, says the report. It makes plain that neglect of the illegitimate child has led, to a significant extent, to delinquency and mental illness.
A call is made for the support of trained social workers. provision of suitable accommodation and skilled advice on personal problems for unmarried mothers, including advice on adoption.
Another function to be included is that of family advice centres. According to the report, "the growing complexity of the social services increases the need for advice on their use".
Other measures advocated by the report are: The abolition of capital punishment; demolition of old and inadequate prisons; a new look at the "Judge's Rules" and a reexamination of the system of appointment and training of lay magistrates: the appointment of a full-time Director of Criminology and the establishment of two more Institutes of Criminology.
There should also be a strengthening of the police force; special panels of responsible citizens to act as observers at all disciplinary enquiries arising out of complaints against the police; amendment of the law in relation to committal proceedings and overhaul of the arrangements regarding bail.
Also recommended are a substantial strengthening of the Probation Service and the provision of more special institutions for offenders who are mentally ill, alcoholics and drug addicts.