More children are being locked up in England and Wales, according to the charity Barnardo's.Well, you wouldn’t really expect anything else from the ‘children are people too!’ charity, after all. Children are their bread and butter, their cash cow, so looking after their interests (even to the extent of lobbying for them to face no consequences for their criminal actions) is exactly what they are going to do.
There has been a five-fold surge in the use of custody for 10 to 14-year-olds from 1996-2006, said the charity.
Before 1994, under 15s in England and Wales could be sentenced to custody only if they had committed serious or violent offences such as rape, assault or burglary.And why have these legal changes been made? Because of public outcries over the lack of teeth in the legislation concerning feral youth and low-level crime. Which while it might not be ‘serious’ in the strictest sense of the word, is still enough to make the lives of neighbours a living hell.
But successive legal changes have made it easier for children to be locked up, in secure units or secure homes run by local councils, for driving or drunk and disorderly offences, for example.
They can also be given custodial sentences for breaching behavioural orders.
Martin Narey, Barnardo's chief executive, and former director general of the Prison Service, called for a "drastic reduction" in the use of custody for very young children.Youth offending hasn’t been growing…? What planet does Narey inhabit? Because it isn’t this one.
"Barnardo's are not naïve: we recognise that children committing grave crimes need to be incarcerated," he said.
"But the explosion in the use of custody for very young children when youth offending has not been growing is inexplicable, unjustifiable and unnecessary.
Barnardo's wants a change in sentencing thresholds so that a child under 15 cannot be sent to custody unless they have committed grave or violent crimes. It claims this would save the government £27.5 million a year.Ah, I just love the phrasing there – local authorities won’t ‘carry the full costs’, of course. Taxpayers will. Whether out of central government funds, or local government stealth taxes, it’s taxpayers who will bankroll whatever approach to feral youth is taken.
They also want local authorities to carry the full costs for those children sentenced to custody.
And if taxpayers decide that they’d rather pay for them to be taken off the streets for a while, rather than be left free to roam and create more low-level crime, then it’s taxpayers who should have the say, not well-funded ’charidee’ spokemen who don’t have to bear the consequences of their own policies.
Or alternatively, we could just let them grow up unchecked and uncontrolled until we have more people like this in our midst...
"a "drastic reduction" in the use of custody for very young children."
Are we really sending five year olds to prison? Erm, no. We probably are incarcerating 14 and 15 year olds. Very young? Two years away from being able to join the Army. So from infancy to fifteen is the "very young" period, and in the year or so after that is crammed "young", "early adolescent" and "teenager".
The last truly 'very young' children encarcerated (that made the media, anyway) must have been the Bulger killers. And even Barnardos can't argue that they shouldn't have been sent down, can they?
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