Children as young as 12 are being wrongly imprisoned in England and Wales, breaking government guidelines, says the charity Barnardo's.You mean, Nu Labour’s constant meddling with the justice system is causing havoc?
Its report says that confusion over the criteria for youth courts led to more than 165 under-15s being wrongly given custodial sentences in 2007.
There’s a shock …
Barnardo's said locking up so many children was a "tragedy".Probably not for the people they’d terrorised, but there seems, unaccountably, to be no ‘normal taxpayer charity’ soaking up large funding streams from central government to produce reports like these.
The law specifically states that children aged 14 and under should not be locked up unless they have committed a grave offence or have committed a serious offence and are deemed to be a persistent offender.Bet this is going to come down to hair-splitting over what constitutes ‘grave or serious’ offences?
But the Barnado's report found more than a third of 12 to 14-year-olds locked up did not meet the conditions.
Yup, me too:
Barnardo's surveyed around half of all children who were put in young offender institutions in 2008.Well, the first example shouldn’t exist because we shouldn’t have ASBOs in place of proper offences, but we do, and breaching them means prison. It might not meet with the approval of the ‘charity’ but it’s the law of the land.
More than a fifth were locked up for breaching an Anti-social Behaviour Order or similar punishment, half were victims of abuse and more than a third were living with an adult criminal.
What’s the second got to do with the price of tea? Should we not lock up young thugs who have been abuse victims?
And why should the third be a reason not to send them to prisons? In fact, it sounds like a good reason to at least remove them from the home environment to prevent further indoctrination into the criminal lifestyle.
Barnardo's chief executive Martin Narey said that until 1998 it would have been illegal to imprison these young people unless they had committed one of the so-called "grave offences".Note the ‘until 1998’. In other words, it’s legal now. So why is Narey whining about it?
"Now we do this, every year, to more than 400 children aged 12, 13 and 14.
"This is a tragedy for the young people themselves, it's a shocking waste of money and, in terms of reducing their offending and doing anything to protect victims, it is almost invariably ineffective.
And as for not doing anything to protect victims, well, while behind bars, they aren’t terrorising the community. Are they?
But as with the Anne Owers report, this has also roused the hive-mind into action:
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "We know that sending children to prison is expensive and ineffective, with three-quarters reoffending within a year of release.OK, Juliet. We’ll billet them with you, shall we? Put your money where your mouth is…
"Yet we still persist in sending thousands of our most vulnerable young people into corrosive youth custody every year. We need sentences that work, not those that lead children into more trouble."
Committee chairman Sir Alan Beith said: "We know that custody does not work to reduce reoffending, and that it does not have a deterrent effect on young people, because their crimes are usually opportunistic and impulsive, so it is vital that effective alternatives are available."He doesn’t say what….