Children`s groups back call for sentencing group

Children’s charities and prison reform groups have welcomed a
call for magistrates to hand out community penalties rather than
prison sentences to young offenders.

Lord Warner, chairperson of the Youth Justice Board and former
director of Kent social services, wrote to every UK court saying
community penalties were a more effective and cheaper way of
tackling youth crime. He said youth jails were close to bursting
point, and that variations in punishments handed down by courts
across the UK amounted to “justice by geography”.

Children’s charity NCH welcomed the move but said it was
disappointing that crowded prisons had forced the issue.

Policy officer Jacqui McCluskey said community service was not a
soft option.

“It makes young people take responsibility for their crimes. It
involves getting young people to develop skills and abilities to
get them away from crime,” she said.

A spokesperson for Nacro, which campaigns on the welfare of
offenders and former offenders, said: “When there are suitable
community-based alternatives to prison, such as the intensive
supervision and surveillance programmes, it really doesn’t make
sense to be locking up so many children”.

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