12 JULY 1957, Page 8

THE ONLY MILD controversy which arose over the Report concerned

the treatment of psychopaths. Dr. Bennett admitted that it may be impossible to define a psychopath; but he felt—and I agree— that the Royal Commission was unwise to suggest that 'doctors and others should not be too hesitant to use compulsory powers' in dealing with them, and that 'the responsible authorities should not be reluctant to bring criminal charges . . . because they consider them mentally abnormal.' What to do with men who are emotionally un- stable, and perhaps dangerous, but who do not suffer from any specific mental disorder, is a problem which needs investigation. To insist that they should be treated as patients is not always wise in their own interests, and may lead to miscarriages of justice by which people who are 'nuisances' are incarcerated without trial. But to treat them as criminals, if it is conceded that they were not responsible for their actions, is also unjust. I believe that the solution will ultimately be found in the creation of a special category of men, neither patients nor criminals, who can be interned in special institutions—provided that there are adequate safeguards to ensure that the internment power is not abused.

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