Friday, January 26, 2007

Where next in Youth Justice?

On the back of the current crises within our Criminal Justice System it was with some deep sadness that we heard today of the resignation of Professor Rod Morgan as Chairman of the Youth Justice Board (YJB).

Since taking over the YJB his efforts to deliver a much needed agenda of reform for work with young offenders has earned enormous respect. Although still lacking in the levels of investment needed, the approaches and philosphy that he and his Board have been promoting are undoubtedly the way ahead in helping to reduce youth crime, re-offending and further social exclusion.

Rather than blaming, demonising and incarcerating our young people, there is an urgent and fundamental requirement for the adult population to take responsibility and to reflect and consider why it is that so many of our young people behave as they do. The society that we all live in provides the environment in which they grow up and learn. It is surely therefore our failures and our role modelling and attiudes that are causing so much of what is going wrong. Yet all we do is blame and punish the young. Is it any wonder that so many young people tend to lack respect for the adult population when we have let them down so badly.

The greatest motivators in life are success and reward, not fear and failure. The evidence clearly shows that punishment and custody alone do not work. If it did, re-offending rates would be falling. Rather, we need to focus upon and address the deep rooted negative thinking, insecurities, fears and attitudes that all too often prevail.

So many of those that end up within the criminal justice system lack the most basic levels of personal confidence, self-esteem, sense of self-worth and social skills. Yet these are essential in our our lives. Only when these basic issues are recognised and addressed will we see a reduction in crime. More punishment on top of previous punishment merely reaffirm previous failure. Crtically, we need to give those working with young people the skills and confidence to do so.

We can only hope that Rod Morgan's successor is able and willing to drive the YJB agenda forward and that Rod will find alternative ways of continuing to use his considerable knowledge and skills to assist the process.

Trevor Philpott

Friday, January 05, 2007

Former C-FAR Trainee, Craig Reece, reports his continuing progress

Hello, my name is Craig Reece. For those of you that haven’t read about me on the Feedback page of the Life Change UK web site , I am a 24 years old ex-offender who successfully completed the late C-FAR programme in Devon. I am proud to say that mainly because of that I am now getting a new life.

From my previous letter you will see that I was successful in my application to join the Army. My training started on 14th August 2006 and I completed the 14-week initial training on 17th November. This was by no means an easy course. The training was very intense and demanding, especially in physical fitness. I am pleased to say that I kept my standards high and completed what the Army call CMS (R) with good reports. This I couldn’t have done without many of the subjects and skills I was taught at C-FAR which, incidentally, I no longer have to remind myself of as they now come easily and are part of my every day life and thinking.

I look back and cannot believe the change in myself and my lifestyle. It is hard to believe that two years ago I was sat in prison waiting for release with no prospects and no future. Now, thanks to C-FAR I am a happy person, holding down a secure job with a secure future and I am working hard to catch up on the years I lost through my criminal activity.

Recently I spent a weekend in Belgium on a Battlefield tour which I really enjoyed learning about. In January I am due to go skiing for a week in Italy with the possibility of entering the Army Championships later in the year.

I am also about to undertake my cat C and E driver training after which I will be posted into the Field Army. From there I intend to complete the ’P’ Company Parachute Course and then the Royal Marines All Arms Commando Course. Although these are recognised as amongst the two most physically tough courses in the British services, I am determined to complete them. None of this would have been possible had it not been for what I learned at C-FAR and my thanks go to all the staff who encouraged and supported me there.

It is that type of course that ex-offenders need so that they can change our lives. I only wish that the Government would understand this and listen to people like me. Hopefully they will in the future.


Craig Reece.