The National Association of Probation Officers is launching a rival, welfare-based strategy to reduce youth offending after slamming the government’s “punitive” and “bureaucratic” Youth Crime Action Plan.
Napo’s assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher intends to lobby Parliament to support a private member’s bill based on his proposals, which he said had already gained the support of four peers.
The government’s action plan, published earlier this year, aims to tackle youth crime by intensifying family interventions and increased use of anti-social behaviour orders accompanied by parenting orders.
Government plan a ‘mish mash’
Speaking at Community Care Live, Fletcher dismissed it as a “mish-mash of short-term solutions, punishment and threats”.
Fletcher drew up an alternative set of long-term initiatives centred on early intervention and social inclusion. These included conflict resolution, counselling, improving access to education and employment, developing “infrastructure on problematic estates”, and a “major expansion” of sport, music, and other youth activity programmes.
Responsibility for oversight would be delegated to crime and disorder reduction partnerships in local areas, which include police, local authorities, probation services, health authorities and residents.
Instead of the government’s “preoccupation with incarceration and punishment”, Fletcher said he was seeking “a model based on the welfare needs of the child, treatment and rehabilitation”.
He added four peers had agreed to sponsor the private member’s bill in the House of Lords: Lord Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons, Labour peer Baroness Gibson, cross benchers Baroness Howe, and Lord Dear.
“Obviously I don’t expect it to become law but I hope it contributes to the debate,” he told the conference in London.
The action plan also came under fire from Penelope Gibbs, director of the Prison Reform Trust. She branded the continued practice of imprisoning young people who fail to attend appointments under community rehabilitation orders a “human rights disgrace”.
Consultation on the Youth Crime Action Plan, which applies to England with certain measures applying to Wales, ended earlier this month.