MP Hilton Dawson is writing to the home secretary to ask him to
meet with young offenders following a parliamentary briefing
organised this week by Community Care, writes Maria
At the briefing organised as part of Community
Care’s ‘Back on Track’ youth justice
campaign, two young offenders called for a reduction of young
people in custody.
Ex-offender James McClenaghan, 18, who now works for the charity
Rainer, called prison “a university of criminals”. He
said short-term sentences were “a waste of time” and
highlighted the lack of opportunities for development and support
of young offenders.
Sam Richards, a 14-year-old client of Brighton Youth Offending
Team, added that the police needed to do more to engage with young
Peter Blanksby, whose daughter Petra took her own life while on
remand in New Hall prison last November, also called for people
with mental health problems to be placed in psychiatric hospitals
rather than prisons.
Petra was placed in prison for trying to kill herself by setting
her bedroom alight and self-harmed 92 occasions during the 130 days
she spent in prison.
Dawson, a former social worker, told a panel of campaigners he
would be raising issues from the briefing with David Blunkett.
Community Care’s ‘Back on Track’
campaign demands an immediate reduction in the number of young
people being sent to custody and for a greater use of community
penalties. We also want to see a reduction of self-harm and suicide
in custody through a greater involvement of social workers and
those with serious mental health problems to be immediately
An Early Day Motion tabled in June which calls for MPs to
support the campaign has so far been backed by 67 MPs and