Thursday, 27 August 2009

Rewarding Young Criminals

A few weeks ago,an academic study revealed that the government's Intensive Surveillance and Supervision Programme to deal with young offenders is useless. Many of us working with young offenders in various contexts have known this for years. We see the proof of it every day. However, many working with the underclass in various contexts keep our mouths shut. To point out the obvious that the left-liberal approach to crime and disorder doesn't work is heresy and can have a detrimental effect on your career, but then again should you be doing a job you don't believe in? I know I won't last much longer that's for sure.

One lad called Perry, that I've worked with at a Supported Housing project was on an ISSP for driving recklessly whilst drunk in a stolen vehicle. It was his second offence of this exact nature in just six months. Now, Perry committed the second of these two offences just shy of his eighteenth birthday. By the time it went to court Perry was an adult in the eyes of the law but was treated as a juvenile as he had committed the offences when he was seventeen.

According to the Youth Justice Board, an ISSP is the most rigorous non-custodial sentence for young offenders. Now, I dont know about you but when I think of the word rigorous, in the context of dealing with criminal behaviour, I imagine some kind of negative consequence being visited upon the perpetrator in the interests of justice and also to act as a deterrent to committing future crimes. Sadly, this is not so, as the case of Perry so clearly illustrates.

Whilst on his ISSP, the surveillance component required that Perry was tagged and was on a strict curfew which meant he had to be in his room in the Supported Housing project every night by eight o'clock. When Perry failed to meet his curfew, as he often did, the electronic box in his room would send out a signal to the relevant authorities informing them of Perry's non compliance with his curfew. Oh by the way, the relevant authorities were not the police, but a private security company hundreds of miles away. They rang us at the Project, usually the morning after Perry had failed to abide by his curfew, in which time he could have committed a wide variety of offences. They then informed the Youth Offending Team and Perry went back to court. Just how is this close surveillance backed up by rigorous enforcement that reaasures the community? Yet it claims so on the Youth Justice Board's website (see previous link). People have committed horrendous crimes including murder whilst on ISSPs and their adult equivalent.

The judge actually praised Perry for only violating his curfew a few times and commended Perry for engaging fully with the supervision part of the programme. This involved dealing with the underlying causes ( a euphemism for excuses) for Perry's criminal lifestyle. To be fair, some of the supervision was positive, particularly getting Perry to succesfully engage on a literacy course. If our schools were properly run Perry would already know how to read but that's a whole other blog. Over to Frank Chalk.

The most shocking aspect of Perry's supervision was the amount of leisure and recreation that was being laid on for him by the Youth Offending Team and at the taxpyer's expense. Perry showed me a copy of his weekly Supervison rota. Everyday he would meet with his Youth Offending Team Support Worker who would take him on various outings and activities. These included, bowling, swimming, he was bought an annual membership for the local snooker club, taken to a stately home, taken on a naval battleship and everyday brought out for lunch to his favourite Scottish restaurant, Mcdonalds. This went on for the several months Perry was on the ISSP.

In the words of Perry, "I thought I was going to be punished, this is mad, I might steal another car to get back on it again," he half joked.


North Northwester said...

It's largely down to the (forgive me as you still sport the label) liberal idea that man is born free but is everywhere in chains. That is, we have some kind of innate goodness that society somehow breaks or beats out of us, or represses and generally does not allow to blossom. Hence, all misdeeds that criminals commit (and they all hurt other people, which doesn't figure in the modern liberals' calculations) are the result somehow of everyone and everything that makes that person's history. All the rules and parents and experiences and other people somehow oblige the criminal to be so. There is no room for free will and moral autonomy - we are slaves to our surroundings and hence innocent of the motive of crime and hence it would be cruel to punish us.

You get the kind of result that you've described here from that viewpoint.

But people are wild animals - with instincts for self-preservation, some parental instincts (especially in girls) and a variety of desires and feelings - one of which is sociability thank the Lord. It takes long and careful parenthood to create a responsible human being who can recognise the possible consequences of his actions to others and to himself. Punishment as well as vocal persuasion, some rewards and lots of [deserved] praise, practising games where you don't always win and where part of the joy is in working together... and a good strong dose of 'Because I told you so' have, collectively and over millennia, been tested and proven to be about the right combination of techniques to use to raise a baby homo sapiens sapiens into a responsible adult human being.

This poor, betrayed kid has almost certainly missed out on having at least some, if not all, of those essential ingredients as a child.
And when he next hurts someone he'll be an adult criminal and eventually he'll end up in jail or dead from crime-related activity or wasting his life on benefits.

The modern means of liberalism which you chronicle in your blog, and I in mine, and Frank Chalk and Snuffy and Nightjack and all the rest are directly opposed to the ends which classical liberalism sought - the highest achievements that man can imagine within rules of freedom and responsibility.

Ideas kill, and one day they'll kill Perry.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi North Wester, I am a liberal in the sense that I believe that individuals should have the right to live their own lives as they see fit, in accordance with the law and provided that their actions do not affect others or enfringe on the rights of others or affect others negatively. I believe that it is consistent with a truly liberal view point, which after all places the individual at the centre of society, to expect that individual to act in a manner cosnsitent with free will and also according to an accepted moral framework. Even liberals believe that their has to be some accepted standards otherwise they wouldnt believe in the rule of law. I don't wish to pidgeonhole myself as 'liberal' 'conservative' or 'socialist' as I believe that some times each of these perspectives can offer the answer depending on the facts that are being examined.

However, I believe that the cultural revolution of the 60's wne too far and that we are today reaping the consequences of such a radical re-ordering of society.

Hibbo said...


If I was stupid enough to drive my own (taxed MOTed and insured) car whilst pissed I would be screwed.

However, nick a couple and you're sorted, at the taxpayers' expense!

phatboy said...

Just a couple of points, which I know are very late but I've only just discovered your blog this afternoon and am enjoying every word so far.

But, an ISSP is a sentence that can only be passed by a youth court. If Perry was over-18 when sentenced he should have been in the adult court. He is not eligible for an ISSP. If one was passed then the court was wrong, probably because nobody checked that he was still under 18!

Secondly, you say that people have committed murder while on ISSPs and their adult equivalent. Again, I find this difficult to believe since there is no adult equivalent!

WinstonSmith33 said...

I know to be certain that Perry was on an ISSP. He was charged with a crime he committed when 17 but it went to court when he was 18 and he was put on an ISSP.

There is an adult equivalent in that adult offenders are tagged, just like on an ISSP, and monitored, again like on an ISSP. Whilst it may not be an exact equivalent it is similar. You are merely splitting hairs. The point I was making is that offenders who are supposedly being monitored are not done so effectively.

I can send you some links to cases where tagged offenders have committed murder if you require it. All I have written here I have experienced.