Better justice for young people who offend…

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Nigel Spooner

Like everyone else, I hear lots of negative stuff about young offenders. And to be honest, it annoys the heck out of me!

Until last week, I worked in a secure children’s home. We looked after 17 children serving custodial sentences for offences. This means that as well as the challenging behaviour, we also saw the positives.

In the end, they’re just kids. And the vast majority are very likeable human beings.

As well as seeing positives in the children, it’s been great to see a few positive changes in the youth justice system recently. Hopefully this reflects a positive shift-however slight-in the way young people who offend are viewed.

So what’s changed?

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A Gaping HOLE in the WHOLE System Approach…?

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As anticipated in my previous post, the make up of the new Criminal Justice Board (CJB) is missing vital ingredients – anyone speaking for offender needs and perspectives.

After well over 20 years of working with young offenders, it’s clear to me that whilst some seem to be “hardened” and resistant to change, many would welcome more help to turn things around, put things right and get on track towards a crime-free life.

Even a cursory read of the various aims and mission statements of the organisations sitting on the CRB would reveal that their aims are exactly the same – to reduce offending, particularly re-offending.  So we’re all agreed: less crime is a good thing.

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Police and Crime Commissioners – The Politicising of Police Governance…?

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We are now in the closing stages before the first ever voting takes place in the election of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). Following the public vote on the 15th November, the new PCCs will take office on the 22nd and begin tackling their various responsibilities.

As I’ve pondered some of the things they’ll be doing, I’ve found myself feeling a little puzzled as to what exactly we’ll be getting that’s new. Among the promised benefits of Police and Crime Commissioners are: bringing communities closer to the police, building confidence in the system, restoring public trust in policing and consulting victims.

Of course, all these things already exist in one form or another.  There are lay members of police authorities, there are procedures in place to process and respond to complaints and chief constables already take the views of local people into account through forums like police and community together (PACT) meetings.

As we all know, policing is an incredibly complex and ever-changing task but, in my view, they largely do a great job.  Personally, apart from the lingering bitterness of being caught speeding a few too many times, I have always been satisfied with the responses I’ve had as a victim of crime or as someone reporting incidents or concerns.  That said, there is always room for improvement; issues from the Lawrence enquiry 19 years ago, through to more recent revelations about Hillsborough, illustrate this starkly.  But both these examples also press home the point that policing covers a legion of different domains in public life, as well as being drawn into the most private of crimes like familial child abuse and domestic violence.  I take my hat off to ’em!

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