Monday, 22 December 2008

Huhne - Too many young people in prison

. The Daily Telegraph has this report of Chris Huhne's comments regarding the lack of use of non-custodial sentences against young offenders. Before sentencing, judges and magistrates must obtain a pre-sentence report from the local youth offending team (YOT). Figures from the Ministry of Justice showed a 'wide-variation' in the responses to these reports. In some areas custodial sentences were only handed-down when recommended but in others the report was ignored and the offender jailed in any case.

Huhne said;

"We are schooling too many children in crime at the public's expense.

Britain incarcerates far more children than any other European country and it is not working - youth crime and re-offending are not falling.

I don't blame judges, who are operating in an environment where both Labour and the Tories are obsessed with looking tough on crime.

Political posturing and the punitive demands of sections of the media are forcing us into treating many young people far too harshly.

We need to move away from headline-grabbing rhetoric towards measures that will actually succeed in cutting youth crime, starting with effective community punishments that pay back damage to local communities and victims."

I tend to agree with the thrust of Huhne' comments and earlier comments by Nick Clegg here; the political debate on crime is plagued by a macho desire by each party to 'out tough' the other. This is one of those issues where it tends to be a 'proud to be a Lib Dem moment'. Custodial sentences should be a last resort in the case of young offenders and the exception not the rule.

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