Following on from my last blog, this week I obtained an original copy of the Home Office ‘Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Conduct of Standon Farm Approved School and the circumstances connected with the murder of a master at the school on 15th February 1947’. It cost me £22.00 – the original price was just 9D [pence]. It is 69 years since 4 boys were convicted of the murder of a Master at this institution and 5 others pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder. The Headmaster was dismissed and the school closed.
The Inquiry concluded that the causes of the murder included;
- The isolation of the school
- The prolonged bad weather coupled with the lack of a suitable gymnasium or adequate recreational facilities
- The prohibition of smoking and the cumulative effect of the long standing regime of limited freedom
- The collective punishments and threats of collective fines
- The inadequate system of distributing pocket money
- The inadequacy of religious guidance
- The lack of understanding on the part of the Headmaster of his boys as individuals and their belief in his unfairness particularly in respect of the uncertainty as to licensing (permission to leave the institution and be on license in the community)
- The gross carelessness of the headmaster with regard to the safe custody of fire-arms and ammunition
- The presence in the school of a boy with a very strong personality and a burning sense of grievance.
The Inquiry led to the establishment of the first secure units for children. Stronger arrangements to imprison children were defined as the solution to the prevention of such crime in the future, instead of analysing the causes of the young people’s behaviour and emphasising the importance of child-centred, therapeutic care systems.
The report makes interesting reading in the context of an inspection report detailing attacks on staff by young people in the Rainsbrook secure training centre, during the first quarter of 2016 when 5 staff needed hospital treatment. 61 boys and 13 girls, who had a custodial sentence or were on remand, were at this time in jail at Rainsbrook which was run by the private company G4S. Continue reading