La la la, can’t hear you

We’re generally wary of words like ‘shocking’, but in this case (and given the smoking gun in the hand of ‘Doc RedTop’ himself) it’s entirely justified.

The head of the Youth Justice Board, Rod Morgan, has resigned after the Home Office decided to advertise his job rather than simply renew his contract. He isn’t going quietly. In a Newsnight interview to be shown tonight, he says of the 26% increase in children entering the criminal justice system that:

government targets for bringing offences to justice were having “perverse consequences” by swelling prisoner numbers unnecessarily.

Minor offences that used to be dealt with informally or out of court were now being pushed into an overstretched criminal justice system, and work to improve regimes in young offender institutions was being “undermined”

Predictably, the Home Office has a two-fingered response:

“We refute the claim that young people are being demonised and criminalised. Considerable emphasis has been placed on providing activities for young people.”

As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Home Office is already pretty cheesed about the YJB report on ASBOs, so their decision to re-advertise Rod Morgan’s job in an attempt to find someone holding the right song-sheet was always on the cards.

It was less than 6 months ago that Rob Allen came to the end of his contract with the YJB, and sounded off about:

elements which are deeply disappointing: the increasing criminalisation of young people involved in minor delinquency, and the stubbornly high use of custodial remands and sentences.

‘And there are some developments of which we really should be ashamed, in particular aspects of the way we lock up children, the demonisation of young people involved in anti-social behaviour and the coarsening of the political and public debate about how to deal with young people in trouble.’

Meanwhile, YJB board member Howard Williamson grits his teeth and hangs on but for how long, who knows? He has already deplored the

increasingly authoritarian and interventionist state

Pardon the apoplexy, but what depths have we plumbed when a government prefers appeasing tabloids by getting macho with children rather than listening to its own youth justice specialists?

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