25 Sep 2009

Section 18 with Intent


You can hardly avoid the news today with the two boys who have pleaded guilty to the lesser charge above as well as numerous other offences rather than attempted murder.

The "Jamie Bulger" case of this generation, hopefully it will provoke much needed changes to law for children and young people in the United Kingdom.

If the two boys were found or plead guilty to attempted murder, they would have carried that offence on their record for the rest of their lives. Unfortunantly, as the CPS has reduced the charge, once they reach 16 their criminal records will be wiped clean and inaccessible.

The idea in this legilsation was to allow rehabilitation and clean slate mentality to allow young offenders to reform. The reality is that the legislation is allowed to be abused, with children committing numerous serious offences, sometimes in the hundreds, then being treated as first time offenders when they are caught as late teens. The cycle perpetuates and the offenders get a less severe treatment and continue in a course of violence.

This clearly needs to be reviewed.

The case also raises serious questions about social care. One of the hot topics of the year, with numerous child abuse cases in the news, the issue of children's homes and foster care is one rarely addressed. The concept that it is better for a child to remain with his or her natural parents is the preferred approach, the result being that when they leave this and enter the LAC system, they often have pavlovian behviour that is very hard to break.

Theorectically community, LAC and foster care should be as good an environment as a a happy stable family. There is certainly the potential for it to be as good if not a better initiative than the nuclear family concept. However, there is a preconception of children in care or from a care background are "damaged" and less able and generally destined to have little ambition or social development.

This preconception needs to be challenged and the forms of care we provide need to be reformed to prevent further disenfranchised generations with mentall health disorders and low level crime to continue.

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