Tag Archives: youth justice

Bercow, Ten Years On – the #SLCN campaign

I CAN, the children’s communication charity, and The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists have launched Bercow: Ten Years On. This report delves into the support, or lack of support, children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) receive in England.

Over 2,500 people were consulted about speech and language therapy provision for children and young people. Only 15% thought that adequate speech and language therapy is provided.

Why is this a liberal issue? Well, we advocate free speech, in its many forms, one of which is oral. If we do not help children and young people with speech and language difficulties, they face a lifetime of communication hindrance.

We, as Lib Dems, also want to give children the best start in life. We are behind free school meals, the Pupil Premium and shared parental leave, so we should also get behind the call to improve speech and language services so that these children can better engage with education, more easily make friends and have communication skills for life.

Only 50% of children and young people with speech and language communication difficulties are identified. So one of the calls in this report is for early diagnosis and early intervention.

I was surprised to learn that 60% of young offenders in England have been found to have speech and language communication needs. With early intervention, many of these young people would not have communication difficulties.

Some of the recommendations of what must be done to improve the situation at a local and national level address social mobility:

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The Independent View: Liberal Democrat MPs should vote against secure colleges which would put younger children and girls at risk

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails” said Nelson Mandela. Well, what would it reveal about the state of our nation if we were to hold our youngest children and some of the country’s most vulnerable girls in unsafe conditions where they felt fearful, intimidated and isolated?

On Monday, Liberal Democrat MPs will cast the deciding votes on whether this becomes a reality.

The Commons will consider an amendment made by the House of Lords to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill on “secure colleges” – the new form of child custody introduced by the Bill. These will be very large institutions (there’ll be 320 beds in the first one) which Chris Grayling, the Tory Justice Secretary, is adamant must hold girls and boys between 12 and 17 years of age.

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Julian Huppert MP: Another promise kept – Nick Clegg announces more than doubling of young offenders’ education time

If people are to be in jail, one of our priorities is to make sure that when they leave prison, they won’t come back. We realise that the best way to do this isn’t about draconian sentencing; it’s about providing people with skills. That’s why in our 2010 manifesto we said that we’d increase the number of hours prisoners spend in education and training.

Today, we’ve achieved another goal – Nick Clegg has announced that through a new system of Secure Colleges, young offenders will see the time they spend in education more than doubled.

This really matters. At any one time …

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Opinion: Justice for Simon Hughes

As someone who has never exactly been a supporter, there have been very few bright spots in the otherwise suffocatingly dark firmament which is the Coalition Government.  One was and is the appointment of Norman Lamb as Care Minister who has been doing a remarkable job, also the undoubted achievements of Lynne Featherstone.  So the news yesterday that Simon Hughes has been appointed a justice minister was one of those rare occasions when some of my perennial despair was tinged with just a little hope.

I have a lot of time for Tom McNally and I think he …

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Youth Justice day: thanks and farewell

A final thanks to all those who have contributed to today’s focus on Youth Justice. I trust, dear readers, you have found the debate enlightening and challenging and those of you heading for Sheffield will join us for the debate on Saturday afternoon. We have a fringe event on Friday evening at 8pm in Suite 5 in Jury’s Inn. Peter Oborne will be chairing a debate with Tom McNally, Simon Hughes and others on Youth Justice in an Age of Austerity.

In the midst of all that I personally find unpalatable about the Coalition this is one area where I have …

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Youth Justice: the minister’s view

Since I became Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice last May I have been working with Ken Clarke and the other Ministers within the department to make radical changes to the criminal justice system. Our plans are about finding out what works – the methods of rehabilitation and punishment which actually reduce crime.

One of the key aspects of this vision is preventing and tackling offending by young people. In England and Wales the number of children aged 10 to 17 grew rapidly during the course of the 1990s and into the second term of the Labour government in …

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Youth Justice: the magistrate’s view

just over 100 years ago a Liberal government decided that young people should no longer be routinely tried in the same courts as adults. Thus was born the juvenile, now youth, court system in England and Wales. During the last hundred years much has changed in penal policy, both corporal and capital punishment have been abolished, and the prevention of re-offending has taken on a greater importance over the punishment of offenders. There is also a live debate about the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

For some, magistrates, and especially lay magistrates, sometimes seem like the ogres in the system. They …

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Youth Justice: the lawyer’s view

Society has gone badly wrong in the way in which it deals with those crimes committed by young people.

There are far too many children coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Children can appear in the adult Crown Court charged with grave crimes or if they are jointly charged with an adult. Under those circumstances, a child is confronted with the full rigour and formality of the court process. Following a finding by the European Court of Human Rights that the applicants Thompson and Venables had been a denied a fair hearing before the Crown Court, …

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Youth Justice: on raising the age of criminal responsibility

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that states should set an age below which children cannot be held criminally liable – but does not specify a minimum age. A quick survey of other jurisdictions confirms that by comparison the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales – at ten years – is extremely low.  Indeed, it is the lowest in the European Union. In other member states it ranges from 13 to 18. A survey of 90 countries by found that the most common age of criminal responsibility was in fact 14 years

Taking into account …

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Youth Justice: the prison governor’s view

One of the most powerful pieces of learning for me during 34 years of being in and out of custodial establishments is the capacity of their residents to respond to opportunities; to being appreciated and congratulated for work well done; to being respected for doing something worthwhile. It is the realisation that this might have been their first experience of any of this that initially takes the breath away, and always disturbs. Although, therefore, Governors have to concern themselves with secure and safe custody and, yes, maximising resources to provide opportunities for offenders in their custody, and doing …

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Youth Justice: Linda Jack’s guest editor day

At Spring Conference we will finally get the opportunity to debate our Youth Justice policy – we have taken a “muscular liberal” approach – recognising that the present system fails not only some of our most vulnerable young people – but more importantly, society itself.

Other countries, even the most unexpected, have a far more enlightened approach to youth justice, recognising that punishment and rehabilitation have to be combined with meeting welfare needs of children and young people who have often been badly neglected.

Today a number of fellow Lib Dems express their professional and personal views of what our response should …

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