Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Julia Goldsworthy wrong to support Redruth curfew

When New Labour first came to power they were very keen on the idea of curfews for children and teenagers. A pilot scheme was run in Hamilton and I recall commissioning an article from Stuart Waiton on the subject for Liberator.

Things went rather quiet after that, but now the idea has re-emerged in Cornwall. The Times reports developments in Redruth:

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.

There are many things to note here.

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.

"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.
Alex, who writes A Lanson Boy, says:
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.


Hywel said...

If anyone is involved in an under 17 cricket match it's not totally impossible that the game could still be going on at 9pm so what happens then?

Anonymous said...

I think what is being proposed is a Dispersal Order, the term curfew is a bit mis-leading. We had the same dilemma in Teignmouth, as Liberals could we support what is a draconian measure. We were reassured by our local police neighbourhood team who told us they weren’t going to use all the powers the order gave them, and operate with a light touch. For example they wouldn’t send home a group of 15 year olds playing football at 9.30pm, but they would escort home a 13 year old found out at 2am. The council organised youth activities and sports, and the order was used sensibly by the police and had the desired effect.

Anonymous said...

On the whole groups of kids are most "intimidating" during the daytime when pensioners are using local shops ande shopkeepers are nervous about being subjected to shop-lifting sprees. Anybody, of any age, out on the streets after 9pm risk being assaulted by drunks. Maybe Redruth is different - but I doubt it.

What happens if a youth club stays open after 9pm - or somebody runs a teenaged disco?

Anonymous said...

I am a fourteen year old living in Redruth and don't think that it is fair on all the good children that won't cause trouble to be prohibited in going out with a few friends and waiting around for other friends. I think that it will be a disastorous aproach to the problems in Redruth as only a few youths are to blame.

Anonymous said...

Jews must wear a yellow star, the disabled must wear a wheelchair badge and if they do now work we must piss on them, the elderly will be gassed new labour the party of the people for the people.

New Labour will last for a 1000 years.

how bloody stupid we have 1000 more Police men and women yes all sitting in cars or police stations, I still think local officers are the way forward local police local bobbies local knowledge not cars walking. it would also get the Police fit and we not have twenty two stone officers.

Anonymous said...

Three years ago my son, known only as W from Richmond took Richmond Police and the Metropolitan Police to the High Court over precisely this issue. The High Court decided that the police did not have powers to remove children who were out after 9.00 pm when they had done nothing wrong. Now it seems the police in Redruth are planning to punish parents who refuse to sign up to a voluntary agreement to keep children under 16 at home after 9.00 during the summer holidays. Big brother comes to Britain!!. I would advise anyone affected by this prohibition to contact Alex Gask at Liberty.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in Redruth and can honestly say it is ridiculous that a curfew is going to be put in to place. For the last 4 years I have been living in Nottingham - this is where the curfew is needed, not a quiet Cornish town! I am about to move to London and I expect that the situation will be similar there. Obviously Redruth has youngsters hanging out in the evening, but being such an enjoyable area it would be an absolute shame for children to be chained to the indoors.

Crime is not even a factor in Redruth, sure a few traffic cones get moved once in a blue moon, but there are no issues of knife or gun crime. I would even go as far to say that I would feel safe walking through the town in my birthday suit...

Anonymous said...

stop being naiive that this will work

firstly i have been attacked several times all of which have happned before 9pm

no issues of knive or gun crime? two words, redruth school

it really is a depressing violent and supressing place. to demonstrate. on my road alone there is a brothel and i could get an E for less money and less effort than a pasty