28 MAY 1948, Page 24

Shorter Notice

IT is difficult to see quite what purpose this book will serve. Its intentions are admirable ; so are its origins. It springs from a series of meetings held in London by the International Committee of the Howard League of Penal Reform—meetings attended by people of thirteen nationalities. Interest in child offenders was particularly lively, and the Assistant Secretary of the Howard League has trans- formed the "numerous and lengthy discussions by experts of diverse nations and languages" into the book. Miss Margery Fry contri- butes a- sympathetic first chapter ; but after that the long dis- quisitions on Juvenile Courts are such hard going as to be almost unreadable, possibly because they are mainly translations and tend to be repetitive one of another and somewhat pointless. One of the difficulties is the very internationalism of the survey ; there can be only generalities. Appendices which take up more than a third of the book summarise the treatment of juvenile offenders in ten countries ; but some of this material has already been quoted by Miss Fry. It is a pity that in this period of post-/war reckoning when, as Miss Fry says, each country has to. decide its attitude to young offenders, a more readable and methodical book could not have been produced.