London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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London County Council 1934

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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normal temperament and mentality. The usual causes of delinquency were traceable in almost
every case. They are lack of proper discipline, with inadequate parental control and general
slackness, defective home and environment, bad companions, etc.
The general health and physique were found to be fairly normal, in fact, the majority were
well fed and in good health generally; even some young people who had "hitch hiked" to
London from Wales and the North, in the hope of finding work here, showed no signs of food
The detention in the remand home seems to do the children good in more ways than one,
the regular life and discipline exerting a very beneficial effect. The diet would appear to be
adequate and well thought out.
With regard to physical defects, no child was found to be suffering actually from the effects
of insufficient food. The 178 cases who are noted as showing subnormal nutrition were mainly
representative of the large class who are naturally and normally thin, probably from temperamental
causes due to detective pancreatic secretion or other gland dysplasias.
Weak feet, often associated with hammer toes, valgus and crooked toes, appeared to be
common. The number of cases of undescended testicle may have been underestimated, this
condition, which is very common, usually corrects itself by the age of puberty, but, tends to
leave some permanent weakness, and possibly accounts for the large numbers of men who have
definite inguinal hernia in later life. Strangely enough, there were five cases of partial hypospadias.
The subject's attention was purposely not called to this defect which is occasionally
found in a minor degree during school inspection. There was no active rheumatism, but all the
fifteen heart cases were the result of a previous attack of the articular fever.
The proportion of cases of mental defect was about the same as in previous years, 47 cases
were feeble-minded or border-line. Many others were seriously retarded educationally. Several
mentally defective children were found to have marked superadded psychotic tendencies of the
nature of schizophrenia.
Some very useful and correct summings up, unfortunately too few, of the character and
disposition of certain of the children were sent in by their head masters.
In order to arrive at a fair estimate of a child's make up, together with his general behaviour
and reactions, it is necessary to observe him over some period, and there is every opportunity
for this to be done at the remand home, given time, by the medical officer working in liaison
with the superintendent and his officers.

Table 44.

Ponton-road remand home—Reasons for admission.

Stealing and allied offences1,02174Wilful damage19
Breaking and entering2824Needing care and protection82102
Burglary2Attempted suicide1
Suspected persons711Insulting words21
Defrauding10Loitering and trespassing161
Begging121Sex offences20
Beyond control11935Army or Navy deserters3
Breach of recognisance397Absconding from approved school102
Wandering226Drunk and disorderly1
Assault with firearms1Total1,782247
Inflicting grevious bodily harm7Miscellaneous28
Arson11Grand total2,057
Education Act offences3711

Table 45.

Ponton-road remand home—Physical defects.

Subnormal nutrition1717Non-tuberculous lung catarrh586
Subnormal physique22412Epilepsy3
Vision—Defective speech405
6/9 or 6/12391Enuresis802
6/12 or less21540Congenital syphilis41
Eye disease193Gonorrhœa2
Squint and ptosis5512Vaginal discharge5
Colour vision defect181Varicocele30
Teeth (three or more decayed)11619Imperfectly descended testicles120
Nose and throat13911Paitial hypospadias5
Ear disease432Abnormal feet, weak arches, etc.13015
Defective hearing27Spinal deviations459
Valvular heart disease122Congenital abnormalities306
Congenital heart malformation3Hare lip and cleft palate1
Skin disease675Spina bifida occulta1
Enlarged glands9010Infantile paralysis2
Tuberculous spine2