Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/186/8028
Lock up Blair's curfew plans!
THE HEADLINES on last week's Queen's Speech were all about New Labour's plans to extend youth curfews to teenagers up to the age of 16.
MIKE FORSTER, an Education worker in Kirklees, told The Socialist: "I think these ideas are unworkable. I don't see how a curfew can be imposed. And it's a very one-sided way of looking at what they see as a problem.
There are many other ways of tackling crime other than curfews which will alienate most young people against the police.
First of all, you need to make education relevant to young people because there is a link between children being out of school and crime. Then the education system needs the resources to meet young people's needs within the school.
Then there's alternative social resources for young people - youth clubs or out-of-school activities that will keep people occupied.
Most important of all is hope for the future. Most young people don't have much - they're stuck in a cul-de-sac and can't see a way out because all that's available at the end of their school days are low-paid training schemes.
This government has no answers. It's not tackling the root problems.
It boasts about its New Deal scheme which is at base just another low-paid training scheme. There's no prospects for young people in the medium term future.
Most occupations are crying out for lack of staff - teaching, health, social work.
There's a feeling that in general education standards are being lowered, which is why there are shortages which could easily be filled by young people if there was better preparation.
The government's policy is just to get people off the streets and bring down the crime figures. They're forgetting about a trained and educated workforce.
Curfews have failed. Councils in England already have the power to put children under-10 under house arrest. No council has used it.
Britain's prison population is already Europe's highest, yet the government's own figures show that it takes a 25% increase in prison numbers to achieve a 1% reduction in crime.
Blair and Co. seem to be aiming to lock up half the population. A socialist alternative would look first of all at a properly funded education system with well-paid jobs and training.
In The Socialist 15 December 2000: