Lately, I have been working with the Offensive Youth Service or as they prefer to call themselves the Youth Offending Service. One of my duties is to escort male teenagers on Intensive Supervision and Support Programmes on their daily outings to gyms, boxing clubs, tennis courts, indoor football centres and to various other recreational activities. The ISSP is the most severe 'punishment' a young offender can receive prior to being detained in a young offenders institute. Some of our young offenders have been released from custody early on the provision they attend ISSP. Despite it consisting of merely attending a centre where you get driven to various sporting and recreational activities and have lunch provided many of them still moan incessantly about how hard done they are for having to attend.
To be fair though, I have encountered a few lads so far who have learned from their mistakes and truly want to turn over a new leaf, if only they were all like this. However, quite a few of our offenders have been on ISSP before, some more than once, and some of those who have been in custoday boast to the others how they found doing time easy as they had TVS and video games consoles in their rooms which I know to be true. Whilst I dont advocate hanging these lads off the walls in shackles I do balk at the idea that they should find custody easy and I wonder how their victims would feel knowing they spend a lot of their day watching TV and playing Grand Theft Auto. Afterall most of our offenders are prolific burglars and some are violent muggers. I do believe that the almost total absence of order and discipline within the Youth Justice System is the reason that re-offending rates are so high and why young offenders who have done time boast about it as a badge of honour. Several have even stated they like it in custody and wouldnt mind going back.
The majority of the staff that I have met so far in the Youth Justice System are box ticking bureaucrats who seem to swallow whole heartedly the mantra that all youth offending can be solved by asking people how they feel and asking them to make posters stating that crime is bad. Seriously, I have some astonishing stories that Ill post soon.
Meanwhile I was in the Daily Mail again the other day for those of you who missed it.