Mixed reception for Clarke appointment

Charles Clarke’s appointment as home secretary could lead to fewer
young people being placed in custody, the Howard League for Penal
Reform has said.

The charity said the former education secretary’s experience of
presiding over reforms to children’s services suggested he would
introduce a more child-centred youth justice regime than his

“We’ve got to be optimistic that things [will] be better than they
were under David Blunkett,” a spokesperson said. “We are hoping
that there will be more positive messages about children and the
appropriateness of custody for children.”
But despite the fact Clarke has already acknowledged that the
asylum system is in need of urgent reform, refugee groups said it
would be “business as usual” on asylum.

A Refugee Action spokesperson said: “We haven’t received any
indication that government policy is going to change in any way as
a result of one individual going and another replacing him.”

Clarke replaced Blunkett last month after the home secretary
resigned. This is Clarke’s second spell in the Home Office, having
served there as a minister between 1999 and 2001.

His promotion triggered major changes at the Department for
Education and Skills at a critical time, with Cabinet Office
minister Ruth Kelly promoted to education secretary.

John Ransford, director of education and social policy at the Local
Government Association, said the changes did not “signify anything
in terms of a change in policy”.

But Paul Ennals, chief executive of children’s charity NCB, said
that it would be tough for an incoming secretary of state to get to
grips with the reforms to children’s services.

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