Institutions

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VIII.—INSTITUTIONS.

1. Hospitals.

The Census of this country takes no account of any other kinds of infirmity than blindness, deafness, and mental derangement. Very little information, therefore, can be gleaned from the returns as to sickness generally. It may, however, be noted that 27,579 patients were enumerated in the general and special hospitals, exclusive of the "Workhouse Infirmaries. Although females predominate in the population, the male patients were considerably the more numerous, being 14,062, while the patients of the other sex were only 13,517. This is explicable from the greater liability of men than of women, both to accidental injury and to most diseases.

The patients enumerated in hospitals were 7,619 in 1851; 10,414 in 1861; 19,585 in 1871; and 24,087 in 1881. The proportion of these patients to 100,000 of the population was 42 in 1851; 52 in 1861; 86 in 1871; 93 in 1881; and, finally, 95 in 1891. It must not be supposed that this continuous increase implies a corresponding increase of sickness. The proportion of hospital patients to population is a measure rather of the amount of hospital accommodation than of the amount of sickness. It is an undoubted fact that in recent years the amount of hospital accommodation has increased at a much greater rate than the population. The number of hospitals included in the lists of Public Institutions, published in the Registrar-General's Annual Report for 1891, was 1,012, whereas it had been 691 in 1881, and only 346 ten years earlier. Some part, however, of this apparent increase was doubtlessly due to more complete information having been obtained as to the existence of the smaller institutions.

2. Workhouses.

Number of indoor paupers

The total number of pauper inmates of workhouses, including the workhouse infirmaries and schools, and also those asylums which are exclusively for the reception of imbecile paupers, was 182,713, of whom 102,689 were of the male, and 80,024 of the female sex. Thus one every 137 males, and one in every 187 females, was an inmate at some or other rate-supported workhouse institution.

Excess of male paupers

This excess on the side of males appears not only on the figures for England and Wales in the aggregate, but in those for each separate country, with the exception of the little country of Rutland—where the figures are small and practically alike for the two sexes—and of Cornwall, in which county alone the female paupers considerably outnumbered the male.

The excess limited to certain age periods

The excess of males, moreover, shows itself at almost every age-period, the only exceptions being the periods between 15 and 35 years of age, in which, as may be seen in the following table, the female paupers predominated. This also is a phenomenon presented, with as much constancy as can be expected where the numbers are small, by each separate county.

It may be that, had we the figures of out-door relief with distinction of sex, these remarkable differences between the sexes in regard to pauperism might be more or less wiped out; but, unfortunately, the official returns of out-door paupers take no account of sex.

INDOOR PAUPERS, per million living of either SEX, at successive AGE-PERIODS.

Ages. Males. Females. Ages. Males. Females.
0— 2,552 2,379 35— 4,981 4,093
5— 5,423 4,188 45— 8,324 5,512
10— 6,864 4,552 55— 19,985 10,960
15— 1,674 1,697 65— 49,439 26,306
20— 1,649 2,234 75— 76,833 45,230
25— 2,604 2,948 85 and over 91,363 68,351
           
      All Ages 7,307 5,353

Explanation of the differences at different ages

That there should be proportionally more male than female inmates of workhouses in the later periods of life is readily intelligible. Men, as their higher death-rate shows, are more liable than women to serious illness; and, seeing that as a rule their occupations require more strength, slighter degrees of ill-health incapacitate them from earning their livelihood. There an, moreover, many more light occupations open to old women than to old men. These considerations explain with sufficient probability the male excess among paupers after 35 years of age. But, why those should be similar excess in the earlier stages of life, namely, among children and young persons under 15, is not so evident. We have made such inquiry into this matter as was open to us, and, though we cannot speak with full certainty, believe that the explanation lies in the following facts. There are a number of charitable schools and institutions which are certified by the Local Government Board as suitable for the reception of pauper children on payment by the guardians. These are mainly established and managed by ladies, and are therefore naturally in much larger proportion for girls than for boys. Thus, of the 118 institutions of this kind included in the official lists for 1891 and limited to one or the other sex, only 19 were exclusively for boys, while 99 were exclusively for girls. Again, there is a practice in some unions which tells in the same direction, tends, that is, to increase the number of boys in the workhouses as compared with the number of girls. "When a widow with several children applies for relief, the guardians allow her to remain out with some of the children while they relieve her of the charge of the rest; and in such cases the mother almost invariably sends in the boys, as costing more to clothe and feed, and at the same time being less handy in their home than their sisters. For similar reasons, when children are boarded out, there are many more persons ready to act as foster parents for girls than for boys, and we are informed by Miss Mason, the Local Government Inspector of Boarded-out Children, that there are some committees who only undertake to receive girls, while there are none who similarly confine their operations to boys.

It remains to consider how it comes about that, while males predominate in so marked a degree at all other ages, the opposite is the case among paupers between 15 and 35 years of age, and more especially among those who are from 20 to 25 years old. The explanation appears to lie partly in the fact, that at this period of life a man's health and muscular vigour are at their best, so that he can readily command employment, but mainly in the further fact that at this period a very large number of young unmarried women, who are either, about, to become, or have already become movers, take refuge in the workhouse having no other means of supporting themselves or their infants. It has been stated by the Registrar-General (Forty fifth Annual Report , p. XL) that more than 16 per cent. of the illegitimate children born in England and Wales are born in workhouses; and, on examination of the Census schedules for workhouses in North Wales and six English counties,1 it has been found that out of 3,561 female inmates, 303, or 10 per cent., were unmarried mothers, having with them no fewer than 597 illegitimate children.

Condition as to marriage of indoor paupers

Of the pauper males 13,270 were married men with living wives, but only 8,237 Were married women with living husbands, so that there must have been at least 5,039 married men in the workhouses without their wives. It is clearly much more common for men to go into Mm workhouse while their wives remain outside, than for the reverse process to occur; probably because the woman can both live on less, and has, in her old age, more chances of stray employment, in charing or the like, than the men.

Decline of indoor paupers in 1891

The proportion of indoor paupers to 100,000 of the population was 676 in 1851, in 1861 was 627, in 1871 was 652, and in 1881. was 692, the increase in these last two decennial periods being attributed to the action of the boards of guardians in applying the house-test; but in 1891 the proportion again fell to 630, a decline of 9 per cent from the proportion recorded in 1881.

3. Prisons.

Sexes and ages of prisoners

The total number of persons detained in the civil prisons at the date of the Census was 17,303, and of those 14,775 were of the male, while only 2,528 were of the female,; sex. This gives one male and one female prisoner for 951 and 5,914 respectively of the corresponding sex; or, in other words, out of equal numbers living there were six male prisoners to one female prisoner.

Among the prisoners was a boy not yet 10 years old, while 49 other boys and seven girls were not yet 15. Such excessive youth was, however, quite exceptional; not necessarily because crime does not exist to any great extent among children, but because reformatories and industrial schools are the places in which such youthful criminals are lodged.

The great bulk of the prisoners were adults; the age period, in which the proportion borne by them to the population of corresponding age and sex was highest, being the 25-35 years period for each sex; and the proportion becoming successively smaller in each later period, as the following table shows, in which it will also be noted that such criminality as leads to detention in prison is not only much more frequent, but begins at an earlier age, with males than females. For though the 25-35 years period is, as already stated, the period of maximum proportion for each sex, in the males the next preceding period (20-25) and in the females the next following period (35-45) are almost on a par with it.

Prisoners per 100,000 living at
each Age.
Number living to one Prisoner.
Males. Females. Males. Females.
15-20 103 12 971 8,441
20-25 218 24 458 4,189
25-35 221 38 452 2,646
35-45 186 36 538 2,762
45-55 136 27 738 3,697
55-65 121 14 824 6,983
65-75 65 7 1,550 13.973
75 and upwards 21 2 4,756 44,210

How can the gradual diminution in the proportion of prisoners with the advance of age be accounted for statistically? Several possible explanations maybe suggested, but it must be left to experts in criminal matters to decide how far they are respectively operative. For instance, it may be that a considerable number of members of the criminal class, as they grow older, and find by experience what an unpleasant place a prison is, are induced by a wholesome dread of it, to abandon their evil ways and keep within the law; or it may be that, as they grow older, they become more skilful and so evade detection; or it may be that mortality is much higher in the predatory classes than in the general population. This last suggestion appears to us the most likely but not impossibly all the suggested causes may contribute to produce the result.

Decline in number of prisoners

The most striking fact, however, in regard to persons confined in prisons is the enormous reduction in their number in the last 10 years. In 1881 there were 27 889 prisoners, or nearly a thousand less than in 1871, when the number was 28,756. But in 1891, the number fell to 17,303, or by no less than 38 per cent. in the decenniun and this, although the population had increased in the same 10 years by 11.7 per cent. In 1881 one person out of 931 was confined in prison, but, in 1891, the proportion had fallen to one in 1,676; or, to put the figures in another way, out of 100,000 persons living in England and Wales 107 were in prison in 1881, and only 60 in 1891.

How is this enormous and unprecedented decline to be explained? It can be accounted for in very large measure by the most satisfactory of all causes, namely the great reduction that apparently has occurred in the criminal classes.

The number of persons belonging to these classes was estimated by the police at 71,637 in 1880-81, whereas their estimate in 1890-91 was no more than 51,095 Doubtlessly, estimates of this kind can be but approximative; but, as the estimates at the two dates are stated to have been made on precisely the same lines, the proportion between the two figures may, we presume, be accepted as sufficiently accurate. The criminal classes fell off then, between 1881 and 1891, by nearly 29 per cent. The decline in the number of prisoners was, however, much greater than this having been as we have seen no less than.38 per cent. It would appear, therefore, that there must have been some auxiliary cause in operation, besides the reduction in the criminal classes to account for this still greater reduction of prisoners. It seemed not impossible that this auxiliary cause might be found in a shortening of the average term for which offenders were committed to prison; for such shortening would, of course, have the same effect upon the daily population of the prisons as would a decline in the actual number of convicted offenders. But an examination of the data supplied in the Judicial Statistics showed that this hypothesis was untenable; for so far from the average term of imprisonment having declined in the interval between 1881 and 1891 the very opposite had occurred, and the average term had become, if anything, slightly longer. This is shown in the following table, which gives the proportions of prisoners sent into confinement for various periods, out of 1,000 so sent in 1880-81 and 1890-91 respectively, and it will be seen that it is the proportion of short imprisonments, not exceeding 14 days, that has undergone diminution, rather than the proportion of the lengthier periods, the only exception being the 3-6 months term, where also there has been a slight but insignificant decline.

OF 1,000 PERSONS SENT TO PRISON, THE NUMBER SENT FOR VARIOUS PERIODS 1880-81 AND 1890-91

Period of Imprisonment. 1880-81. 1890-91.
Over 6 months 1 1
Over 3 months and up to 6 months 20 17
Over 2 months and up to 3 months 74 77
Over 1 months and up to 3 months 110 117
Over 14 days and up to 1 month 268 305
14 days or less 527 483
     
  1,000 1,000

This hypothesis, then, having failed us, we had recourse to another, namely, a diminution in the use of imprisonment as a punishment for the slighter kinds of offences; and this time our hypothesis turned out more successful. For we found, on extracting the necessary data from the Judicial Statistics, that while in 1880-81, of 1,000 persons summarily convicted for stealing or attempting to steal or for offences against the Vagrant Acts, 652 were sentenced to imprisonment, in 1890-91 the proportion had fallen to 490, the difference being made up, as the following table shows, by fines or other penalties having been substituted for detention in prison. This is, as we understand, mainly the result of the Summary Convictions Act of 1879.

CONVICTIONS for STEALING or ATTEMPTING to STEAL, or for OFFENCES against the VAGRANT ACT.

PENALTY. 1880-81. 1890-91.
Actual
Number.
Per 1,000
Convictions.
Actual
Number.
Per 1,000
Convictions.
Imprisoned 45,569 652 33,316 490
Sent to Reformatory or Industrial Schools 2,402 34 2,278 33
Fined 16,950 242 24,537 361
Other disposed of 5,015 72 7,912 116
         
Total 69,936 1,000 68,043 1,000

The diminution then in the number of prisoners is attributable partly to the falling off in the number of members of the criminal classes, and partly to the substitution of other forms of punishment for imprisonment in cases of petty offences. Such substitution is naturally most frequent in those cases where the term of imprisonment would have bent short, and it is this withdrawal of the shorter terms from the list of imprisonments that has caused the average term to become, if anything, somewhat longer than before, in spite of the notorious fact that many judges and magistrates now inflict shorter terms of detention than was formerly the case. The longer sentences have been shortened, and the shorter have had other penalties substituted for them.

Reformatories and industrial schools

With prisons must be taken into consideration the certified reformatory and industrial schools; fur, though some of the juveniles under detention in these institutions have not been convicted of offences against the law, they may all, with few if any exceptions, be practically regarded as actual or potential criminals.

The total number of the boys and girls in these institutions on the night2 of the Census was 18,387, or 9.1 per cent. more than were returned in 1881, when the total was 16,856. The decrease in prisoners has therefore been accompanied by an increase in the number of juveniles under detention. But by no means in corresponding measure; for, if the two be added together, it- will be found that the adults and juveniles in prisons reformatories, and industrial schools amounted in the aggregate to 44,745 in 1881, but in 1891 were only 35,690, a decline of 20.2 per cent.

Of the 18,387 juveniles in the reformatory and industrial schools, 14,342 were boys, while only 4,04-5 were girls, the boys being therefore 3 times as numerous as the girls. The difference in the proportion of the sexes in these institutions was, it will be noticed, not nearly so great as in the prisons.


1 Namely, Cornwall, Norfolk, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Cumberland, and Westmorland.

2 Consequently the boys and girls attending Day Industrial Schools ate not included in the above total.

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