Grieve’s dogwhistle u-turn on youth crime

The Tories today released figures claiming young criminals given community sentences were guilty of “100,000 extra crimes a year”. They say that, since 2002:

“Over 650,000 crimes have been committed by juvenile offenders who had received a community sentence, referral order, or reparation order, in the previous twelve months, research by Conservatives has found.”

The clear implication being that locking more young offenders up would reduce the offending rate. Indeed, shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve goes on to say:

“Ministers need to get a grip of the youth justice system and reduce reoffending rates, which remain stubbornly high.”

A sure sign that an election’s looming and the Tories are reverting to type, and a million miles from his sentiments of a few years ago, when he said:

“Prisons are places to which we want to avoid sending people whenever possible.”

In the same 2003 debate, he added:

“We share the Government’s desire to ensure that, as far as possible, sentences can be served in the community, rather than in prison.

“There are many good reasons for that and the Minister has touched on some of them, including the fact that the successful management of a convicted person within the community makes it less likely that he will reoffend.”

So what’s changed between then and now? Why were prisons “places to avoid sending people” seven years ago and not now, and why would a young offender on a community sentence be “less likely” to reoffend then than now?

If it was a round of applause in the right-wing press he was looking for, it seems the dogwhistle u-turn has done the trick, today’s Mail describing community sentences as “bird-brained justice” and the Telegraph calling them “soft penalties”.

5 Responses to “Grieve’s dogwhistle u-turn on youth crime”

  1. Tom

    Note further that Kit Malthouse, London’s policing politico, has tweeted today about the ‘Good News’ that the prison population of young people has fallen. Now, Kit wants us to think that this is due to less offending, but what would Grieve say? Someone should ask him.

  2. Jim B

    Grieve's dogwhistle u-turn on youth crime | Left Foot Forward: The Tories today released figures claiming young cr… http://bit.ly/aJasa4

  3. Mr. Sensible

    Tories all over the place again.

    What are the odds on those figures being messed up again?

    Get your story strait!

  4. Rob

    Erm, it would be a contradiction if Grieve had said we should be locking up more young people, but he didn’t and the only person who drew that conclusion was Shamik Das. What he said was that they need to
    1. get a grip
    2. reduce the re-offending rate.
    How exactly does that lead to the conclusion that they should be locking people up? It leads to the conclusion that they need to be doing something a bit more effective than making soup.

  5. Probation will reduce re-offending - not privatisation | Left Foot Forward

    […] Friday’s remarks about youth offending, and despite earlier signs that the Conservative Party were keen to engage in a serious debate […]

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