Things went rather quiet after that, but now the idea has re-emerged in Cornwall. The Times reports developments in Redruth:
There are many things to note here.
Officers in the town ... hope to clear everyone under the age of 16 off the streets by 9pm. Those aged under 10 will be expected at home by 8pm.
Letters have been sent to 700 families living on large housing estates in the north of the town, asking for their cooperation in enforcing the voluntary curfew between July 25 and September 7. Parents who do not agree to the scheme, and whose children are found out after 9pm, could be subject to parenting or antisocial behaviour orders.
It is dishonest to write seeking cooperation if you are backing that request with the threat of legal sanctions. This confusion is shown most clearly later in the report when a PC is quoted as saying: "This is a voluntary scheme but there is a hard edge in that if we find families who aren’t getting involved we can make orders."
This scheme is predicated on the ludicrous view that there is one correct time for every youngster to be indoors and that it is the role of the state to enforce it. You have to be a socialist to believe nonsense like that.
When we see antisocial by young people we often ask where their parents are. This scheme undermines parental authority. They are not allowed to say that they are happy for their 15-year-old to be out after nine. That decision has been taken away from them.
Demonising young people and keeping them off the streets will not lessen old people's fear of them. The way to overcome that fear is to encourage contact between the two groups. The less older people see young people the more afraid they will be when they do meet them.
Most importantly, the scheme is deeply unjust. It betray a lack of courage on the authorities - like the teacher who punishes a whole class because he is afraid to take on the few troublemakers. If young people are breaking the law they should be dealt with. If they are not, they should not be treated in this unjust way.
I was depressed by this development. But I was even more depressed when I found out the scheme is being backed by a Lib Dem MP.
A Lanson Boy draws out attention to this report from the Western Morning News:
"This is a very interesting experiment and I will be keeping a close eye on it.Alex, who writes A Lanson Boy, says:
"It should be trialled properly with a view to rolling it out to other trouble spots in the county if it gets results.
"While we must not demonise all young people, we have to acknowledge that youngsters don't have to commit crime or anti-social behaviour to be intimidating to residents. Simply hanging around on street corners can be enough of a threat.
I was happy to believe that Julia might have been misquoted and so got in touch straight away. Regrettably, it seems as though she stands behind much of what she said.So I am happy to support his conclusion:
there to deal with it. If not, then we shouldn't be punishing young people for wanting to be outside on summer evenings (even if the weather hasn't been up to much recently).
Julia has stressed to me that she doesn't think that demonising young people is the solution. I agree. But supporting a scheme which allows for the forced removal from a public place of a person simply for being young does not seem to me the best way forward. If those fearful residents see young people being carted off by the Police then they will tend to believe that the young people concerned are guilty. To me, that is demonisation.
So come on Julia, ditch this illiberal and inhuman scheme and start a real dialogue between the different groups of residents of Redruth to see if some long term solutions can be found.