The number of children in prison has been cut by a half since the Liberal Democrats came into Government, statistics uncovered by Julian Huppert MP reveal.
Between April 2010 and November 2014 the number of under 18s in custody fell from 2,149 to 1,055 – a drop of 51 per cent.
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert uncovered the figures in an Oral Question to Justice Minister Andrew Selous in the House of Commons this week.
The dramatic drop comes after Liberal Democrats in Government pushed for the Youth Justice Board to have more powers to help rehabilitate offenders in the community, rather than locking them up.
Now Dr Huppert is calling for a Women’s Justice Board to be set up in the next Parliament to take similar action to cut down the number of women in custody. This follows calls by Simon Hughes – the Lib Dem Justice Minister – to do the same.
Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert MP said in the chamber:
“That is a substantial decrease and it is very welcome, particularly at a time when crime is falling.
“Much of it has been due to the excellent work of the Youth Justice Board, which should be congratulated.”
He added later:
“We have been working hard in government to cut re-offending rates and keeping young people out of prison goes a long way to preventing them from picking up bad habits.
“Working to rehabilitate them in their communities, where they can be productive and learn new skills, helps to get their lives back on track. Not only is this important for the individual concerned, but it makes good economic sense for the taxpayer as well.
“The Youth Justice Board has done some excellent work with young people and I am confident similar work could be put into practice to help women stay out of prison. Women are often the backbone of a family and giving them custodial sentences can have a huge effect on the children.
“It is absolutely clear from the results we have seen with youth offending in a relatively short time that the measures we have put in place are working. We know that prison doesn’t work. People get into a revolving door situation where they go to prison, come out and reoffend and go back in again. We have to cut our prison population and I am very encouraged by the results we are seeing.”
A civil liberties group has slammed Calderdale Council for spending £680k on upgrading its CCTV equipment. The upgrade of the equipment will be financed by over £425K of borrowing at a time when Labour are cutting services elsewhere.
Commenting on the spending Charles Farrier of the civil liberties campaign NO CCTV said:
“It seems absurd that in an age of savage cuts to public services Calderdale council think it is appropriate to spend over half a million pound of local tax payers money on upgrading their surveillance cameras. Surely greater crime prevention or crime control effects can be realized by using the money to be spent on surveillance cameras on proven strategies to improve education systems, create job training programs, improve housing, relocate families living in high crime areas, reduce poverty, or hire more people to walk, talk, and problem solve in “at risk” communities. The council hide behind meaningless statistics that only show how often a control room knob was twiddled. Study after study has shown that CCTV cameras are not the silver bullet that lazy, populist politicians continue to claim they are.
What is more, research shows that cameras can have a damaging effect on communities by increasing fear and reducing trust. A report entitled ‘Fortress Britain’, published last year by the New Economics Foundation, found that residents on an estate in London felt that “knowing people”, whether it be caretakers, youth workers or each other, was the key to creating trust, whilst cameras increased fear and decreased trust. Surveillance cameras do not fix but actually contribute to the breakdown of our communities. But we have another concern about Calderdale council’s so-called “upgrade” to their CCTV cameras.
The proposed scheme represents a massive step change in open-street surveillance as the council would no longer be operating closed-circuit cameras but networked digital surveillance cameras connected to the Public Sector Network. Such cameras were described by the Royal Academy of Engineering as “public webcams”. Of course the council will tell us that only authorised persons and organisations will have access to the network of cameras but we know all to well how such lists of authorised bodies can grow.
The council’s proposals would be waste of tax payers money but more importantly an assault on the freedoms of everyone in West Yorkshire.”
Calerdale Council has failed to issue a single fixed penalty notice or make any prosecutions over fly-tipping in the past year. The figures released this month by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs show that despite over 1,100 incidents reported, the Council has failed to fine or prosecute anyone.
Cllr James Baker (Warley), the Liberal Democrat Economy and Environment spokesperson said:
“Although the Council has investigated these incidents and issued warnings it has failed to make a single prosecution or issue a single fine. This simply isn’t good enough, and sends out the message that people can blight our landscape and get away with it. The Labour run Council need to do more to tackle this environmental crime.”
The figures show that from 2012-13 there were 1,156 incidents of fly-tipping reported across the borough. This lead to 548 warning letters, 35 stop and searches and 11 formal cautions. The estimated cost of these investigations came to a total exceeding £40,000, and the cost of actions arising more than £30,000.