The Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson has dismissed the
government’s respect agenda as unworkable “nonsense” and a “stain
on the character of young people”.
Mark Oaten said the government’s creation of a respect task-force,
headed by former antisocial behaviour tsar Louise Casey, showed it
did not understand the causes of “disrespect” among young
At a conference fringe event on youth justice, Oaten floated the
idea of a universal period of voluntary service for 16-year-olds as
a way to promote respect, saying it could do for disadvantaged
young children what gap years did for the middle classes.
He praised Labour’s record on promoting alternatives to custody,
but said the country should be ashamed of the rate of imprisonment
among young people.
However, he reiterated his party’s support for antisocial behaviour
orders, though they should be allied to measures tackling the
causes of problem behaviour, and rejected the “naming and shaming”
of young people with Asbos.
Also speaking at the meeting was Children’s Society chief executive
Bob Reitemeier. He called on the government to use the forthcoming
Sentencing and Youth Justice Bill to end the use of custody for
vulnerable young people.