David Palethorpe

The views, thoughts and opinions of an insignificant speck in the Universe 😀

Northamptonshire PCC – ‘Sentence Families to Two years of Hell’

Whole families to be sentenced without trial to "Two year's of hell"

Whole families to be sentenced without trial to “Two year’s of hell”

Analysis of Northants PCC Internment Policy

On Sunday I read with incredulity the proposals from the Northamptonshire PCC, Adam Simmonds that whole families should be “put through two years of hell” in order to break the cycle of crime and re-offending.

I tweeted that,

@DavidPalethorpe: I don’t usually find crass stupidity amusing but the Conservatives PCC proposals and backtracking has made my day.

Which as I should have expected brought about a personal attack from the office of the PCC which given the wave of attacks his proposals brought down upon his head is understandable.

I have written a number of articles on my blog about why I believe prisons aren’t working and the need to rethink their purpose to prevent re-offending and protect the public.

I’m not interested in engaging in a childish exchanges with Adam Simmonds preferring to focus on analysing his policy proposal.

I hope the Mail Online don’t object that I have attached the article in full below,

Mail Online 16 November 2013.

‘Feckless families should be put through “two years of hell” in boot camps to turn their lives around, a crime tsar has urged.

Layabout parents – like the characters in hit TV show Shameless – would undergo an “intensive programme to keep them put of crime and unemployment”, says Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northamptonshire.

He said derelict Army bases could be used to house them while they were taught basic household skills, ordered to stop drinking and smoking, and given basic job training.

Their children, meanwhile, would be educated properly. “You’ve got to break the cycle, tackle that poverty of ambition”, Mr Simmonds told The Mail on Sunday.

The PCC – whose pioneering plan to merge police and fire services won praise from Home Secretary Theresa May – insists his idea would be cheaper than repeatedly sending career criminals to jail and taking their offspring into care.

The Tory PCC said that in Kettering, Northants, police believe that just ten families are responsible for the majority of burglaries.

He added: ‘The kids don’t go to school; none of them are in work. They cause the bulk of the problem – they go to prison, come out, generation after generation.

I’d like to take them out of Kettering, put them somewhere else to retrain the family’.

‘We’ve got to be more radical than sending social workers to get mum and dad out of bed. Sending them to prison hasn’t worked so what else do you do?’

Under his plan, the most troubled households would be told they could escape the cycle of re-offending and unemployment by agreeing to go into a new residential programme.

Disused Army bases would be redeveloped to house the families.

He added: ‘The people who run this are going to put them through hell for two years’.

‘There’s something in the idea of discipline, doing it in a different location and doing it as a family. Tell the man, you’re going to get up, have breakfast, go for a run, quit smoking and drinking’.

But criminal justice expert Harry Fletcher said: ‘it would extremely difficult to administer and manage, and may run counter to the European Convention on Human Rights.’

The Tory Government of the 1990s introduced boot camps for young offenders but research suggested they did not cut re-offending and were too costly.

We have failed you in the community so it;s off to prison you go? It's for your own good

We have failed you in the community so it;s off to prison you go?
It’s for your own good

The article starts with the Adam Simmonds statement that,

‘Feckless families should be put through “two years of hell” in boot camps to turn their lives around, a crime tsar has urged.

Feckless is defined as, those lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible and considered as being useless, worthless, incompetent, inefficient, inept, good-for-nothing, ne’er-do-well;

Which raise the question,

Who will decide who are the ‘feckless families’, who will carry out the assessment of fecklessness and against what criteria will they be assessed?

The PCC proposes to identify ‘whole families’ who fit the definition of feckless which would of course reinforce them as worthless!!! – and who decides what is the ‘family’?

Will the family be parents and their siblings or the ‘wider’ extended family group?

I can think of a number of communities, particularly those from the Indian sub-continent, North Africa and the Traveller Community where extended families are the norm and essential to their way of life.

Are they all to be condemned as feckless if more than one ‘family’ members are found guilty of committing an offence?

Once the ‘feckless family’ has been identified it will take an army of social workers, health workers and psychologists to assess whether the ‘family’ would survive internment in ‘boot camps’.

and, what exactly does Adam Simmonds mean when he says that the families including children would be put through “two years of hell”.

I know that during his election campaign he made great play of being a ‘Christian’ and I admit to not believing in any god, but it seems to me that putting innocent children or those who have done nothing wrong through ‘hell’ is a very Christian attitude.

Northants PCC "Derelict army camps can be used to house whole families" Tory Christian compassion

Northants PCC “Derelict army camps can be used to house whole families” Tory Christian compassion

The Northamptonshire PCC then goes on to say,

‘derelict Army bases could be used to house them while they were taught basic household skills, ordered to stop drinking and smoking, and given basic job training’.

Their children, meanwhile, would be educated properly. “You’ve got to break the cycle, tackle that poverty of ambition”, Mr Simmonds told The Mail on Sunday.

The obvious flaw in his proposals is in the word ‘derelict’!

Sending whole families to live in ‘derelict barracks’ doesn’t seem to be conducive to setting the standards or changes in behaviour he claims his policy will deliver.

Who would and more importantly how much would it cost to make the ‘derelict Army barracks’ habitable?

The second flaw is his assertion that the adults in the ‘families’ will be taught ‘basic household skills’

What skills?

Cleaning, cooking, hovering, washing, ironing, gardening, basic motor vehicle maintenance?

What is classified as basic household skills and how many basic household skills can you teach in two years of ‘hell’?

What is meant by ‘ basic job training’?

I am the first to say that people need employment skills but skills without a job to go to are meaningless, so will the PCC be guaranteeing the adults employment when they have completed the two-year programme?

As for the other suggestions of ordering them to stop drinking and smoking I’ll leave the reader to decide how realistic that is.

We are going to educate you properly by removing you from society

We are going to educate you properly by removing you from society

In the meantime while the adults are going through the process Adam Simmonds says their children will be ‘educated properly’.

Of course children need to have the highest quality of education which no-one would argue against and which may be the subject of another blog.

What isn’t clear is, if the whole families are going to be removed from society and housed in camps how is the education going to be delivered especially when the age range is likely to cover the whole spectrum from nursery at 4 to secondary at 18?

The cost, apart from the staff to deliver the training to the adults, of providing the education would be huge, which of course brings us to the argument Adam Simmonds puts forward regarding the cost of his proposals.

An adult prison place costs £40,000 a year while it costs an estimated £140,000 a year to keep a young person in a children’s home

(Does it really cost £11,500 a week in Northamptonshire to keep a young person in care?)

Mr Simmonds insists his idea would be cheaper than repeatedly sending career criminals to jail and taking their offspring into care.

The flaw of course is that when you add the costs of housing families in his camps, providing all of the health and presumably psychological support, ‘re-education of adults’ , education for the children and associated domestic costs of providing food, heating etc, plus the staff to enforce the ‘camp compacts’ plus the infrastructure costs!!!!!!!!!!.

The other flaw that demonstrating a level of ignorance of the issue is in the assumption that the children of ‘career’ criminals are taken into care.

It is an assumption that those of us who have worked in the criminal justice system know isn’t in the vast majority of cases true.

I have spoken to police who work in Kettering and they aren’t at all clear which families and on what evidence Adam Simmonds has made his statement about families in the town.

So I’ll just have to accept that he has applied a degree of political poetic licence to support his proposals.

I’m also unsure where he gets the idea that Northamptonshire social workers go around to people’s homes like the ‘knockers uppers’ of Victorian England to get mums and dads out of bed.

If they are then is there any wonder the County Council social services were damned in a recent OfSted report.

The final nonsense of what is simply a nonsensical and unachievable policy is when the Northamptonshire PCC says,

‘The people who run this are going to put them through hell for two years’.

‘There’s something in the idea of discipline, doing it in a different location and doing it as a family. Tell the man, you’re going to get up, have breakfast, go for a run, quit smoking and drinking’.

He is going to put whole families, mums, dads, children and any extended family who have committed no offence apart from being associated with re-offenders ‘through hell for two years’ believing that the families will simply accept it, settle down and comply with his regime.

Well good luck with that.

Those who currently work with prisoners, offenders and difficult and/or dysfunctional families will be falling about with helpless laughter at the naivety of the proposals.

I’m the first to acknowledge that the criminal justice system isn’t working to rehabilitate and prevent re-offending or the importance of breaking cycle of crime.

What I find staggering about Adam Simmonds policy is that he basing it on the need to provide advice, support, guidance and a high degree of coercion to difficult families.

It is surprising because before he became the PCC he was the main political policy advisor to the Conservatives and Leader of the Northamptonshire County Council.

He was therefore directly responsible for the cuts in funding to the adult social services, children services, supporting people, police, education, drugs treatment programmes and charities that worked in the community with the very families he now wants to intern.

In other words it was the actions of Adam Simmonds in his role with the Conservative Northamptonshire County Council that has directly contributed to the failure of a system that is failing to prevent re-offending.

I started by saying that this would be an analysis of the Northamptonshire PCC policy proposals and of course it isn’t an exhaustive analysis.

The fact is that a simple, talk tough approach by professional politicians of all parties is what we see all too often without any idea of how the policies will be implemented.

It is an insult to those working with people in an extremely difficult environment made worse by political decisions to cut the very services that are needed to help address the issue.

Some may think it was too strong a statement when I said that,

“I don’t usually find crass stupidity amusing but the Conservatives PCC proposals and backtracking has made my day.”

The reality is that in spite of his personal attacks on me I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Adam Simmonds is now regretting making such a ridiculous policy announcement to the Daily Mail, and I have no doubt we will shortly hear from him that he was misquoted or taken out of context.

The next stage of course is to see if he implements his “two years of hell” policy in Northamptonshire.

Will we see HMP Wellingborough reopen as a “Whole family boot camp”?

Watch this space for future update on the Adam Simmonds experiment.

Information

This entry was posted on September 29, 2016 by in HMPS, Tories Northampton.

Twitter Feed

Top Posts & Pages

Post Calendar

September 2016
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Oct »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 544 other followers

%d bloggers like this: