11 year old boy in court
David Cameron is making all the right noises, talking tough about how the law will come down hard on those involved in the riots but everyone knows it won't happen - there will be no real punishment for the under-aged youth who caused millions of pounds worth of damage. Winston Smith is a Youth Worker and says that the criminal justice system in Britain is broken and from his experience, little, if anything will happen to them and they know it only too well.
"They can't touch me, I'm only a kid, what's the worst they can do to me, give me a caution or a curfew I won't obey" one small rioter said yesterday.
The juvenile detention centres are full and the authorities can't handle any more so the system is geared to keeping them out. Only serious offenders of extreme violence or sexual assault will be given custodial sentences and this leaves the majority to do as they please. And an indication of just how ridiculous things have become, youth workers are not allowed to use the word "cell" anymore because it infringes their human rights.
After custodial sentencing, the most rigorous non-custodial punishment for young offenders is called Intensive Surveillance and Supervision Programme (ISSP). These children will spend the majority of their 'sentence' escorted by youth workers to gyms, adventure centre, rock climbing facilities, DJ courses - anything to keep them amused and entertained.
I think I can see the good intentions behind all of this soft treatment of undisciplined kids, they are hoping they will eventually grow up to be productive members of society. But it just doesn't seem to be working so what do they do now?