David Cameron has made it clear that he will attempt to fix ‘broken Britain’. From my sphere, going to a Grammar School and living in London suburbia, I merely saw it as an idea conjured up by the tabloids, which use rare and isolated instances to back up their case.
Now, I am not so certain. I have been told of a boy, who has become renowned in all areas of the local justice system. He is in the youth court almost weekly, for various offences including stealing, robbery, damage to public property and breaking into cars. He is eleven years old. Once, the police merely had to follow him out of court to witness him commit another crime!
The ruffian’s latest case involved him breaking into an Audi worth over 30 thousand pounds, and driving it around for a few miles. When I was eleven, I was breaking into the biscuit tin, not luxury vehicles. With all these felonies under his name, you would think he ought to get a hefty punishment, but he is under the age of twelve, and so sentences amount to a few hours of Community Service at most. Rest assured that many who are familiar with him cannot wait until his birthday, passed which he can be sent to a ‘Youth Detention Centre’ more easily.
At present, he resides in a care home. Not long ago he was still living with his mother, but it seems that this new dwelling is not much better at bringing him up. He is still being allowed out to commit crimes and often fails to appear at school. This begs the question, is Britain failing its children, or are the children failing Britain? It seems as though he isn’t helping himself, but the state should still keep its part of the deal: to do more to make sure he does not truant nor commit crimes. It is theoretically possible for the council to send him away to a youth crime rehab-type centre, but they are not keen on doing so as they can only send him away after going though the family courts, which is too much of a costly process.
“But this is still an isolated case” I thought. It seems not, I have been told that the local Youth Court is barely coping with the rising number of young offenders. It certainly is a good argument for the idea of a ‘Broken Britain’. The Conservatives certainly seem keener on acting to ‘fix’ Britain’s new generation, but what will they actually do? From what I can see, they haven’t really got a full package of ideas, or at least have not presented them; still it’s better than what Labour are offering so far. In short, both parties need to think a bit harder about all this.