For too long, society has ignored the fact that prison doesn’t work. The Children’s Society welcomes the announcement by the Government on its approach to criminal justice. The current economic crisis is forcing this rethink on locking up so many people for non-violent crime, but it is long overdue.
Unfortunately, young people have been skipped over in Ken Clarke’s announcement, which focuses on adults. Too many young people are being locked up and The Children’s Society has been campaigning for decades to only use custodial sentences as a last resort for children.
Adult courts are clearly no place for 10 year olds either and the criminal age of responsibility is far too low. We congratulate Scotland on raising the criminal age of responsibility today and ask Westminster to do the same for the rest of Britain.
We are calling on the new Government to support the Youth Justice Board in promoting a dedicated youth justice strategy for children and young people that takes into account their special developmental needs and circumstances. We have particular concerns about cuts in local government spending which could lead to the closure of innovative community schemes aimed at reducing youth offending.
Ken Clarke’s invitation to voluntary organisations to help deliver community programmes is welcome. But while The Children's Society accepts that rehabilitation work must be results-focused, paying by results will exclude many organisations who cannot afford the upfront costs.
For further information please contact The Children’s Society Media team on 0207 841 4422 / 07810 796 508