Survey finds that public want more community sentences

More than 70 per cent of people believe the government’s youth
crime policy is failing, according to a survey carried out for
Community Care.

The research, conducted by NOP, finds that almost nine out of 10
people think there should be a greater use of community punishments
for children who offend. Sixty per cent believe it is wrong to send
young people to prison for non-violent crimes.

Mark Ivory, managing editor of Community Care said the
survey revealed a crisis of public confidence in the government’s
policy. “The government’s crass solution to youth offending seems
to be ‘lock them all up’.

“This is obviously not working since, despite an increasing number
of young offenders being placed in custody, the problem is getting
worse not better.”

The research, carried out as part of Community Care‘s Back
on Track campaign, found that almost three-quarters of people
believe that young people with mental health problems should not be
sent to prison. Almost 60 per cent think that prison sentences
increase the risk of self-harm and suicide among young

Community Care is campaigning for a dramatic reduction in
the number of young people incarcerated and for children to be
given community sentences instead.

Ivory highlighted that nine out of 10 young people in custody have
mental health problems. “It is outrageous that these vulnerable
young people are kept in unacceptable conditions in young offender
institutions,” he said.

The research also highlights concerns that circumstances
surrounding deaths of children in custody are not investigated
sufficiently. Nearly 30 under-18s have died in prison since 1990,
and nine out of 10 people think there should always be a public
inquiry in such circumstances.

Self-harming forum

The twin sister of a young woman who committed suicide in New Hall
prison last November has announced plans to set up a charity to
help self-harmers and their families.

Kirsty Blanksby wants to establish a forum in honour of her sister
Petra. The sisters were both abused in the care system and
self-harmed from the age of 13. Contact Positive Encouragement To
Raise Awareness (Petra), on 07986 527463.

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