The Big Question

Should young offenders be placed in open children’s homes?

LEN SMITH – Gypsy activist
In my own experience of young offenders, I find that many lack self-esteem to an appalling degree. They seem to think that offending in some way will boost their status. With careful selection and matching of both young person and children’s home, I think that such a scheme could work extremely well for this type of offender.

RICHARD WEST – Inspired Services
The Home Office needs to think again about placing offenders in children’s homes. I am very worried about the effect on other kids in the home. There will be problems such as bullying and making other kids follow their example. There are too many children with a learning difficulty in care and this cannot be in their best interests.

ANGIE LAWRENCE – Single mother
The idea’s success would depend on the effectiveness of young offenders’ risk assessments. Most teenagers are more influenced by their peers than adults – a youth’s poor behaviour could improve, but the reverse could also happen. Also, the children already at the home have enough of their own issues to deal with.

KAREN SHOOK – Disability equality adviser
Having worked in children’s homes, I know that a placement that goes drastically wrong can damage the people left behind and would also do a disservice to the offender. But it could go one of two ways: the offender might just settle down in the home or they could negatively influence the behaviour of existing residents.


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