Out of hiding, Calamity Grayling is wrong on drugs & reoffending

After more gaffes, Chris Grayling has come out of hiding. But his interventions yesterday on drugs and reoffending are out of touch with society and reality.

Chris Grayling has been spotted! After gaffe after gaffe, the Conservative shadow home secretary has come out of hiding. And once again, he has been making wild accusations – not yet picked up by the mainstream media.

A video on the Conservative Party website popped up yesterday suggesting that there is a causal link between education and drugs. Surprisingly, there is no text backing up the claim. Mr. Grayling was filmed on a council estate, north of Kings Cross in London. While blaming “education failure” he forgets to make the link between poor social housing and drug usage. This is a much more accepted link within the social policy literature.

In Puerto Rico, for example, the campaign against illegal drugs has taken place mainly in social housing.  According to Shulamith Lala Ashenberg Straussner, this has lead to “fences, access controls, and bulletproof guard stations” manned by the National Guard. Of course, no British politician would want to introduce this kind of radical manifesto policy. But it is a pity that some Conservative candidates are ready to blame Labour’s execution of education policy, but not local government social housing policy.

Redundant housing estates, usually not properties that Margaret Thatcher sold off to the housing market are left redundant and lacking services and amenities for local people. Indeed, Iain Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail last year that Margaret Thatcher’s flagship policy of selling off council homes led to swathes of the population being “left behind” in ghetto estates. Moreover, a report published this week by the Public Accounts Select Committee found that:

“Despite local authorities spending £30 million on housing support for problem drug users in 2008–09, up to 100,000 drug users in England continue to have a housing problem”

Mr Grayling’s second intervention of the day was a press release claiming, “Most children released from jail reoffend within a year.” The reality is that the number of young people entering the Criminal Justice System is falling for the first time – from 94,481 in 2007-08 to 74,033 in 2008-09. Reoffending is also falling with a 7.3 per cent reduction between 2000 and 2008 in the proportion of young offenders who reoffend.

The man who aspires to be Home Secretary in May is clearly out of touch with both society and reality.

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