WALES: Don't Demonise Wales' Children; AM Seeks Drastic Youth Justice Changes

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), May 19, 2008 | Go to article overview

WALES: Don't Demonise Wales' Children; AM Seeks Drastic Youth Justice Changes


Byline: By TOM BODDEN Welsh Affairs Correspondent

A PLAID AM is calling for powers for the Welsh Assembly Government over the justice system to adopt alternative strategies to tackle anti-social behaviour and drugs crime.

Leanne Wood accused new Labour of populist policies which resulted in the "demonisation of young people".

Instead she wanted a future Plaid Government to be able to focus on tackling the causes of crime, reducing fear and making communities safer.

The One Wales coalition agreement between Labour and Plaid is committed to considering the evidence for the devolution of powers over the police, prisons, probation and the courts.

Now the South Wales Central AM, the party's social justice spokesperson, has launched a 21-page policy development paper, Making Our Communities Safer, which also called for an "urgent and wide-ranging public debate on drug enforcement laws".

Under her proposals, Asbos could be replaced with a system of restorative justice with offenders required to repair the damage their behaviour has caused, either to victims or the community.

The report recommends freeing up resources to invest in public sector community rehabilitation and meaningful offending behaviour programmes in prison for those convicted of more serious offences.

A Welsh Youth Justice Board could be created and the Finnish youth justice system considered as a model for Wales.

Finland has a very small number of children in custody. Instead there is a wide variety of psychiatric provision to deal with behaviour problems at an early stage.

A 20-year substance use strategy could focus on harm reduction and include multidisciplinary substance use teams working with criminal justice agencies on individually designed care plans. …

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