SIR WILLIAM NORWOOD EAST
Criminologist & Forensic Psychiatrist
1872 - 1953
Image by Walter Stoneman July 1947
Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery Lond(1897)
Doctor of Medicine Lond(1901)
Member of the Royal College of Physcians (1928)
Fellow of the Royal College of Physcians (1934)
President of the Society for the Study of Inebriety and Drug Addiction 1940 -1945
President of the Royal Society of Medicine (Psychiatrics) 1943
President of the Medico-Legal Society 1945.
Sir William Norwood East was born on 24th Dec 1872.
He attended King's College before entering Guy’s Hospital where he qualified as a Physician & Surgeon in 1897. Two years later he joined the Prison Medical Service and worked in Portland, Manchester, Liverpool and Brixton Prisons. In 1924 he became the Medical Inspector of Prisons. In 1930 he was appointed Prison Commissioner and Director of the Service. These appointments recognised his clinical thoroughness, his abilities as an administrator and that when required to present findings and conclusions at legal proceedings from local assizes to the Old Bailey, he was able to make himself easily understood and to demonstrate fairness in his expressed opinions.
East advocated many reforms one of which was that the criminals with mental abnormality should be treated in special penal institutions. He considered the arguments of legal opinion, and as a practising clinician, he wished to see criminal behaviour dealt with in a clear, fair and practical manner.
He was one of the first prison medical officers who could demonstrate total command and understanding of the technical aspects of forensic psychiatry, which he was able to achieve as a result of the practical clinical application of the many and various theories he studied.
As an Author he was able to set out his views in his many books including Medical Aspects of Crime (1936), Society and the criminal (1949) and The Adolescent criminal (1942), in reports made to the Home Secretary as adviser on the mental state of prisoners condemned to death and during 30 years of lecturing at the Maudsley Hospital.
He was knighted in 1947 at the age of eighty-one and he died on the 30th October 1953.