Sunday, May 15, 2005

Uniforms For Youths Doing Community Punishments

I read the newspapers today and listened to the radio on plans announced by Hazel Blears for youths completing community sentences to wear uniforms like US style chain gangs. What a load of utter twaddle this was! I am sometimes amazed by the utter rubbish that comes out of the Home Office in terms of ideas and policies. I have been left without words in recent years with the Government's policies on the criminal justice system. But, back to the subject, what does the Home Office hope the achieve by making youths wear uniforms when they are engaging in a community sentence? I have heard some commentators say that wearing uniforms would make the public feel better as they could be able to see justice being done - if this is the case I have to ask myself is the criminal justice system there to work or just to make the public feel better about the criminal justice system?

For what it is worth I cannot see this policy idea ever working. The youths told to wear the uniforms are likely to go to one extreme or the other. Youths may consider the uniforms to be some kind of symbol of achievement that has a certain kudos to it, i.e. that they have committed a crime so bad that they need to be paraded in front of the public. The other extreme may be that the youths refuse to wear the uniforms and are simply returned to Court to be resentenced when they refuse to engage with the community sentence because of a ridiculous uniform.

I really have lost confidence in the Government's ability to formulate decent criminal justice policies. The recent announcement of providing victims of rape, or families of people who have been murdered, with their own legal advice and advocate in Court proceedings so that their voice can be heard was an idea so ridiculous that I nearly fell off my seat when I heard about it. After years of cuts in legal aid, and then more recently comments from the Department for Constitutional Affairs that legal aid needs to be prioritised to serve the needy, I am left asking myself is this 'third' legal advocate not going to cost money and protract cases? Anyway I always thought that the Crown Prosecution Service, Witness Service, and Police Family Liaison Officers were supposed to work in the role of the 'Victim's Advocate'? Perhaps this idea will make the public feel better about the criminal justice system with a 'Victims's Advocate' rather than the criminal justice system simply working.

No comments: