Chit chatting

 

Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to be on Without Prejudice, a regular podcast, where David Allen Green, Card Gardner and CharonQC chat about law. This time they were joined by me and Francis FitzGibbon QC.

We chatted about the riot sentences, the legal aid cuts, contempt of court, and the Troy Davis execution. And then we drank wine (some of us rather more than others :) ).

You can listen to the podcast here.

It’s not just ‘them’, it’s you and me too

In 1984, following several miscarriages of justice pertaining to ‘confessions’ which later didn’t stand up, it was enshrined in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act that an arrested person had the right to free representation at the police station.

The whole purpose of the Act was not only to protect defendants, but also to protect officers from allegations of foul play.

That right has been (thinks of a polite turn of phrase) ’modified’ over time, to the extent that since 2008, for less serious offences, a detainee may only receive advice over the telephone rather than from a legal representative attending in person, largely unless the offence is one where potentially liberty is at stake (i.e. you could be sent to pokey); although some offences, such as drink driving, can carry a prison sentence, and can fall into the telephone advice category. However, it remained free.

The government now wants to widen the scope of cases where telephone advice should be given, to save on the huge cost </sarcasm> of a representative attending in person, which on average is £150.

Not only that, but government now wants to introduce a means test. Quite aside from the important question of who will conduct a means test at 3am while you are sitting in a cell, consider what that will mean in practice.

Certain benefits will act as a passport, so that is the very needy sorted. High income earners can afford representation, so that is the rich sorted. But what about the huge swathe in the middle? Are they going to be able to find the money, or are they going to go without representation?

I know some people will read this and discount it, because in their heads, criminals are not like them, and innocent people are never arrested, so they don’t have to think about those that end up in police stations, and therefore won’t turn their minds to how they would afford a representative.

To them I say ‘really?’. What about Bob Dowler, questioned as a suspect regarding the disappearance and murder of his daughter, Milly? What about Chris Jefferies, the landlord of the murdered Joanna Yeates, questioned as a suspect? What about Rebecca Leighton, the nurse arrested and questioned as a suspect in the saline contamination cases in Stockport? All released without charge.

They are all in the ‘middle’. They would not pass a means test, and would have been unlikely to afford representation, being in the middle. While I have no way of knowing if it were representation that meant those 3 were not charged, I can say it certainly wouldn’t have hampered their chances.

If you want to keep the right to free representation, which was thought crucial in 1984 for very good reason, please contact your MP and ask him or her to oppose Clause 12 of LASPO. You can contact him or her here.

 

 

The Kids are Alright, Really

This post is written by Adam Fellows, who tweets in a personal capacity as @eatplaylaw. Adam was recently called to the Bar of England and Wales, and is a Trustee of IARS. He writes a personal blog here.

This post is about the 99% campaign, which attempts to bust the negative stereotyping of young people, by making clear that those stereotypes do not apply to the majority.

The Kids Are Alright, Really

Last month, the country sat back aghast as pictures of fire and smoke filled our screens and our papers. The UK Riots of August 2011 started initially as a reaction to a shooting in North London, but the protest at this shooting quickly turned into rioting in Tottenham and the surrounding areas, and this then spread throughout the capital, and then into other cities in the country.

People started speculating as to what caused it, and due to the perceived age of the rioters, the phrase ‘disaffected youth’ swiftly made an appearance. This was supported by articles and reports throughout the press speaking to young people involved in the disturbances

A lot of loss has emerged from the riots. Loss of property, loss of livelihoods, loss of liberty, and worst of all loss of life. While it cannot be denied that young people were a part of all of this, the sheer range of people involved in the disturbances shows that this is an endemic problem. The extremely unfortunate language used by the Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke MP, describing the the rioters as a “feral underclass” has taken centre stage, while his comments about the social deficit affecting people of all ages have gone unnoticed. Indeed, he kept a tight focus on those over 18 facing criminal sanctions following their participation. And yet still the focus remains upon young people. An article from 5 September 2011 that appeared in the online edition of the Guardian focussed on the young people in Salford and their responses to the riots. The headline blazed with “Behind the Salford riots: the kids are angry”, but a closer reading of the article shows that the young man whose interview supplied the quotation in the headline mentions both people (ie adults) and kids. The young people who experienced the riots in one way or another recognise that this was not just about young people, but a response across all ages of society. Indeed, as the sentencing for criminal behaviour in the riots continues, we can see that those involved into the disturbances not only came from a range of ages, but a range of backgrounds too.

So why the focus on young people? One point that the Guardian article referenced above made that this has been simmering for a long time. Another point is that the recent cuts are just part of a longer shift in spending away from services, services that been reducing over time for specialist youth projects either for leisure or for education. Former PM Tony Blair commented, stating that the problems were based largely upon “disaffected youth … outside the social mainstream“, but even his analysis focussed on dysfunctional families and troubling environments. Current PM David Cameron made mention of a moral decline. Both Cameron and Blair are right, and both of them are wrong. Yes, the rioting and violence was started by a small group of individuals, but that doesn’t explain the participation by people outside of those families he describes. There has been a moral decline, but not the one Cameron discusses. Yet as noted above the breadth of those involved shows young people of all groups feeling angry. As exmplified by the Salford response, these young people feel that there is nothing for them, no hope, no future. You can easily see why they would be angry. To them, it does not appear that the door to a future is locked; it is locked, bolted, behind bars and there is no key or equipment to help them get through: these are not just the people Blair was talking about.

We have had some excellent articles on this blog recently about children in the criminal justice system, and other parts of the public sector services, which you can read here, here, here and here. At the same time as children are slipping through the cracks, we have seen a growth in the ideology that surrounds young people: “hoodies”, “yobs”, and now “feral”. It appears to me to be a ‘chicken-and-egg’ question: which came first, the ideology or the youth to encourage it? Is there even an answer? That’s not the point, it doesn’t matter which came first. The matter is that it is happening, and it is having a terrible impact upon preconceptions of all young people. When politicians and the media pick on isolated incidences and build an image of fear and disgust, it is easy to see why society will withdraw from an entire generation: this is Cameron’s moral decline.

This post may sound like I am making excuses. I am not. There are some young people out there who are troublemakers and worse, and who rendered the labels of “yobs” and “feral” necessary, but by ascribing those labels to all young people in essence writes them off as lost. The only young people worth time and effort are those from good families living in good areas. People (ie adults) are simply not willing to look past their initial perception and get to know the young people they simply write off, and by doing that they are helping to restrain and destroy the dreams of so many. And yet these disruptive young people form such a small part of our youth at large.

Today sees the launch of the new 99% Campaign materials across London, especially on the Transport networks. Its premise is extremely simple:

“We are young Londoners, living positive lives”
“We are not negative stereotypes”
“We are the 99 per cent”

The campaign itself has been going for some time: “it is a pan-London, youth-led initiative that brings together key public, private and civil society organisations to dispel stereotypes about young people and make the capital a better, safer and more inclusive place.”

The project was initially developed by young people in London with the partnership of the London Serious Youth Violence Board. However, with that body now lost in the Bonfire of the Quangos, it was feared that the project could be lost and the work done to change preconceptions of young people would grind to half. However the campaign is now run by a charity, Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS) with the support of a Core Partners’ Group. Of course, young people themselves are also heavily involved in the campaign.

The aims of the campaign are as follows:

  1. “Disadvantage thinking” about young people is addressed and positive stories are promoted.
  2. Negative perceptions and stereotypes about young people are tackled.
  3. New youth opportunities are created while current opportunities are highlighted and enhanced by making them part of a kite-marking, partnership movement that uses the 99% brand to recognise high quality positive engagement youth projects within the objectives of the 99% (taken from campaign website).

What about the young people? How does it help them (While I am aware that the campaign focusses solely on young people in London, this message is not to be ignored by the rest of the country)? The core mission is simple: “to give [young people] a chance“. The campaign aims to do this through “high quality volunteering opportunities; restorative justice interventions; the creation of role models and 99% Ambassadors; youth-led research & policy; awards, training, accreditation and campaigning; educational/ vocational opportunities”. This may sound like a collection of buzzwords, but let’s break them down:

1) volunteering gives young people something to be proud of, something to be a part of, and it also gives them skills and an experience they can refer to and draw on later;
2) so many of the young people involved in the riots have been given custodial sentences, but this has been tempered with arguments about recidivism for young people in the criminal justice system; restorative justice can save both the strain on the courts and prisons, and could help put someone back on the right path;
3) role models are important as young people need people to inspire them, to show them that they are capable of what others are, and while adult role models are good, peers are even more effective;
4) research and policy development, and awards, accreditation, and campaigning all encourage an individual to become involved, to take ownership of something for themselves, and to discover that they do have the capacity for self education.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the campaign is its targets: all adult Londoners, and public sector service providers. These are the types of people to whom young people look for support during their crucial years of personal development, and that who are currently ignoring them. While a lot of online commentators have spoken about the need for a parent in these children’s lives, that is not always possible. Children and young people need as many avenues as possible to flourish, especially if their home enviroment does not provide them with this crucial support.

What does all of this hope to achieve? Respect. Be it the respect of adults and peers, or self-respect, the notion of respect is very powerful when considering the impact of others’ preconceptions. By achieving this respect, young people will be more engaged in mainstream society, and society at large will come to realise that their deeply held belief was wrong all along.

This is quite a challenge. Dr Theo Gavrielides, the director of IARS, and his able team of staff and volunteers have a wealth of experience in this work already; just take a look at the projects IARS undertakes. However, this is an attempt to change the perceptions of an entire country, no mean feat at all. All their hard work, both for the 99% campaign and their other projects, requires sponsors and funding. These are currently in short supply, but this does not remove the need, and it is entirely to their credit that they are still going strong through these difficult times.

Nearly all young people out there makes mistakes, goodness knows I did; that is what youth is for, to make mistakes and to learn. However, a mistake is not something that renders an individual feral. Nearly all young people out there are decent, upstanding people, and yet society still tars all young people with the same brush. Not only are there limited ways for young people to better themselves, but now people are unwilling to take the time to help them. How are young people supposed to learn, to grow without the benefits of adult support or experience? But no, young people are increasingly viewed as written off. Is their participation in the disturbances any real surprised?

I challenge you all reading this to think back into your past, and think about an adult who was willing to help you, support you, give you advice on whatever path you wanted. Not a family member, but someone from school, or a club, something like that. Got one? Now think about the things they told you, the experience they imparted. Now take that away. Can you safely say that you would be where you are now without that person? Even if it was just a boost of confidence, that little push to keep you going, it was still enough to help. This is what young people need, be it through programmes or clubs, or simply just face-to-face advice. Something to remind them that they have not been forgotten.

That’s what these young people: help. Support, assistance, a friendly face, whatever you want to call it. But without it, society could be denying them a chance to improve their lives, the same chance you had. Without that, there is every chance that the kids will not be alright.

To learn more about the 99% Campaign, visit the website at http://www.99percent.org.uk/, and follow the progress on Twitter: @wethe99percent

To learn more about IARS, visit the charity’s website at http://www.iars.org.uk, and follow IARS on Twitter: @_IARS_

If there is any way you or your organisation could help or get involved, please get in touch with either the campaign or IARS.

The Invisibles

This post is written by my beautiful friend, @TooManyBlueys who writes her own blog, The MoD Stole my Boyfriend, Letters to Nowhere, about being the girlfriend of a serving soldier. Charlie is a law graduate and post graduate student, who has worked in various capacities in the Criminal Justice System. This post is about the offending cycle and homelessness.

The Invisibles

If you or I became homeless through job loss and financial ruin, we would report to our local council office with our significant other and children, and they would find us a low rate bed and breakfast that has a room available.  We would apply for housing benefit.  Here we would live (not together, that would be a bit cosy) for a few weeks until they could find us a place suitable for the amount of people our family unit comprised.  We would be “on the list” and right at the top of it, as a priority.  If we stayed elsewhere for even one night, we would lose our place on the list.

For “street homeless” it is another world altogether.  These are the invisible members of our society you walk past when you pop into town for a new pair of shoes or a suit, their dirty tired faces melting into one.  Not all of them beg, a lot take a dim view on an act they consider a last resort, preferring instead to rely on their weekly benefit payments, and in turn borrow and steal from one another.

They socialise in the street homeless circle and make friends to achieve aims.  Friendships are often false, for protection, or because one has access to something the other covets.  With ragged tired clothes, they often own just the one outfit you see them wearing day in, day out.  For them the criminal justice system and street homelessness is a never ending cycle of drug abuse, detox, petty crime, detention in custody, the courts and prison.

It does not matter where the cycle starts.  Wherever you jump in to the story you can be sure what has just come to pass will reoccur.

Whatever the cause, and there are many of them, it usually ends up like this:  On release from prison, our chap goes to his local council housing office.  The appointment may or may not have been set up by the housing department within the prison during his pre-release care meeting, some five to six weeks before his release date.  He is carrying with him everything he owns in the world in one bag, including his medication (for any ailments he may be suffering from, perhaps a methadone or subutex script for his heroin addiction, as he is not allowed to carry quantities of the same around with him).

He announces himself to the receptionist, and then he sits and waits.  He has an interview.  Questions about his past living arrangements prior to prison are asked of him.  As the council has a duty of care to house all prison leavers – if they have a tie to the area – (successful applicants get put in the above bed and breakfast chain to housing) they need to find a reason (and yes, this is the way, due to a massive shortage of available housing, that a lot of councils will look at the situation) to discharge their duty of care.  What reasons will they find to discharge it?  Committing the offence for which they were imprisoned when living in a council property is a reason.  Making yourself intentionally homeless in the past is a reason, and the one most frequently cited.

What does “intentionally homeless” mean?  It means that they had housing (if not a bed and breakfast, then floor space or a room in a homeless shelter) and for some reason they were required to leave it.  This could be because they were attacked, robbed, sexually assaulted, or they themselves initiated a fight.  They may have been caught with drugs or alcohol when rules in that hostel/B&B stated these were prohibited.  Some hostels are ‘wet’.  This means that they allow alcohol and or drug use in specific areas, some are ‘dry’, which means there is a total ban on both.  Then there are rehab centres and night shelters.  Contravention of rules or arrest from the premises will render you classifiable as ‘intentionally homeless’ in the eyes of the council.

Our chap now finds himself faced with the fact that he will not be provided with housing by the council and leaves the office.  If the advisor is feeling particularly generous they will find him ‘emergency housing’, but this is usually only if they consider him to be vulnerable by reason of mental illness, age or physical disability.  The unlucky majority are left to their own devices.  Cities have different systems, most set up by religious or secular charities.  Some have buses on which the homeless can sleep or obtain bedding and tents.  They pull up at night in a quiet corner of the city away from the neatly dressed townies and carry out their work near the inevitable Pret-A-Manger or other such food shop handing out unsold produce.  Soup kitchens stir into life.

If our chap is lucky, he is in a city that has many hostels.  One will usually serve as a ‘feeder’ hostel to the others, and be much larger.  It is on this one they seek floor space for the first few nights and sleep down on the floor next to many other people, of mixed genders, sexualities, races and ages.

These places are a hive of crime and danger.  “Worse than hell” is how I have heard them described, more than once.  From here the staff may find him a room within the same, or in a different hostel, depending on his need.  For the hardened, alcohol abusing heroin user though, the inevitable is that he would drift between the cold pavements and the hostel floor; the latter often proving a more risky choice.

Let us put ourselves then in the place of the person in the hostel, who has just woken up to find another street homeless person going through their pockets as they sleep on the cold open concrete.  A swift clout to the face, blood spatters and the pair wrestle on the floor.  The police are called, neither of them gives an coherent statement as the sleeping victim was partially inebriated due to the intoxicatingly painful cold life on the street before they went to sleep, and the pair are arrested and carted off down to the police station.  It really is as simple as that.

This is enough for the next time they come out of prison on remand or after recall on a licence for them to be considered ‘intentionally homeless’.  The very irony of the phrase is lost on nearly all of them.  They do not want to be homeless.  It is not their intention to be homeless.

Reoffending gets them a warm, safe, comfortable prison.  It gets them a bed and a roof over their heads, three meals a day and more often than not, to see their old buddies.  The friendly faces of prison officers they have seen a hundred times before, the routine and the absolute surrender of their own fate for a few weeks or months at a time until they are reluctantly turfed back out onto the streets and into the cycle of drug abuse and fighting for somewhere to sleep and food to eat all over again.  Do not get me wrong, prison is not easy, but in comparison with the alternative it is preferable to many.

At Christmas I was faced with a desperate sort who had walked into a clothes store, selected three ladies coats in various sizes and left with them.  No one noticed him leave.  He then walked back into the store to alert the security guard to his crime, shouting “Oi! I’ve nicked these!”.  Sadly for him (one would have assumed he would be grateful) he lacked the necessary intention to be charged with the crime of theft and was promptly released from the police station looking rather confused and very annoyed.  He turned around and looked at me and told me he was off to “do it properly next time.”  He wanted a warm bed in the freezing snowy days to come and did not fancy spending Christmas on the streets.  He was prepared to do anything to fulfil this ambition.

There are some who will rob, rape, solicit, abuse, prostitute, pimp or stab.  Most on the whole however, resort to desperate petty crimes such as shoplifting to get by day to day, or commit low level drugs offences and criminal damage.  They take up bed spaces in prison because of the underworld of crime in which they inhabit.  Some relish it, some thrive there.  Lots die.  Lots leave and sort themselves out.  Sometimes, individual workers in those charities that work the streets every night see a glimmer of hope in a person or desperation to get out, and work with them to get them into better rehabilitation facilities.

Sometimes it is people in prison, or mental health professionals who step in and help them find a way out.  Sometimes it is the homeless person themself who finally works up the courage to ask for help themselves from a family member who genuinely did not realise what was going on.  What remains a constant however is that you cannot force someone out of the cycle, they have to want to break it themselves.  The heart-breaking thing for those who love them is that some never do.

There are success stories.  Ben* was homeless for 7 years after a painful divorce.  He had offended in the past and his wife had enough of the prison visits.  She took everything.  He ended up street homeless with a heroin habit and a large drinking problem which he attributes to the fact that without both of these habits he would have found coping impossible.

On the twelfth time in prison he reached out to the drug and alcohol team and asked them for help.  One worker began visiting him regularly and helped him to go cold turkey.  After his release they worked closely together and although he did, for a few days and whilst on floor space began using heroin again, he is now in a high quality rehab centre on a programme funded by his local council, and has been there for a few months.  He has retrained as a carpenter and at the weekend works for a local firm.  Luke* was in and out of prison for violent offences for some 20 years and street homeless in between periods of incarceration.  He is now doing well, married with a young son and living in a council house.  This is just a taste, and for every success story there are many more failures.

I entered the criminal justice system naïve.  My preconception of the step down process from prison was that one went in at the level of crime they committed (A-category prison for murder, rape or  terrorism, B-category prison for less  severe offences or offenders who have done well enough to be moved down from B, C for lower again and offenders who have ‘stepped down’ again, and D for those ready to be released out into the community at the end of their sentences.  A rehab type of prison).

What I found was not quite as logical.  Offenders are taken to B category prisons for low level offences or re-offending on a licence because that is their local prison, and when they are released  the door is simply opened and off they pop into the wide world.  Yes, some prisons offer resettlement packages for long term prisoners, but these are costly, often ineffective and begrudgingly delivered.  The short termers are left to find their own feet.  Like new-born babies, ripped from the warmth and relative safety of a nine month stay, they are out in the freezing cold with only the belongings they went into prison with in the first place.  If they are released from court after a successful bail application on remand and they forgot to bring their stuff with them from the cell, they have nothing at all.

Ben* lasted six hours the penultimate time he was released from prison.  It was cold, he had no idea where to  go and everything was closing up for Christmas, so he spent his leaving giro on some whisky, slugged half the bottle and put his foot through a shop window, rummaged around the display and then waited for the police to turn up.  Back he went to his cosy cell.

How do we stop prison overcrowding for petty crimes?  The average cost of maintaining one person in a B category prison exceeds £40,000 a year. Times are tight. How do we stop them reoffending?  How do we stop The Invisibles from being invisible? We need prison step down programmes for homeless people, and step up programmes after those.  We need better and more widely available release packages.  We need designated statutory support.  We need more intervention whilst they are in prison.  We need specialist facilities for mentally ill homeless people.   We need money for all of this.

*Names have been changed to protect identities

 

 

 

The View from the Bench

Continuing the theme of kids meeting the criminal justice system, this is a view from a lay magistrate, who sits in the Youth Court. You can read the rest of this series, from the view points of a custody sergeant, a police station representative and a residential social worker, herehere and here.

The View from the Bench

I sit in the Youth Court, for which I’ve had a lot of training. It’s not a bit like sitting in the Adult Court. Our sentencing guidelines are completely different. The principal aim of youth justice is to prevent re-offending and to divert youths out of the criminal justice system. We are at pains to do this with the help of many agencies and with the welfare of the youth in front of us uppermost in our minds.

If an adult pleads guilty to assaulting someone we listen to the facts, the mitigation and aggravation, we look at the seriousness of the offence, the injuries if any, the defendant’s means and their previous. From this we form a view, sentence and give our reasons. We might ask the defendant a few questions; we might not. We’re formal and we expect a certain standard of behaviour. Defendants leave our court with a criminal record and a sentence that is intended to punish or protect the public or prevent re-offending or rehabilitate. We hope not to see the person again. Next case.

If a youth (defined as aged 10 to 17) pleads guilty to an assault, we do all of the above, but we do it very differently, and we take a lot of other factors into account. We call them by their first name and we’re a lot less formal. We ask them about themselve, what happened and why, about how they see their future, what job they want to do, how school is going.

We expect youths to have a parent or guardian sitting with them and we talk to them as well. How is she at home, does he do as you ask, come home when told to, and largely anything else you want to tell us. We try not to get grumpy when the youth grunts at us by way of an answer. We wonder, are they grunting because they don’t give a damn or because they’re frightened? Or maybe it’s because they simply can’t formulate any kind of answer to a question about how they think the victim feels other than a shrug and a ‘dunno’. It’s likely no-one has ever asked them to empathise with anyone else.

It often also often becomes clear that youths can’t think through the consequence of your actions. Sadly it is frequently the case that drink and drugs played a part in how they behaved and what they did. A lot of it is to do with age, lack of experience of the world, immaturity, family and role models or lack thereof, exclusion from school, peer pressure.

We try to draw them out, to engage, get them to speak. We really want to hear from youths, about them, what makes you tick. We want to know about their family life, if they are vulnerable to abuse, poor parenting or poverty. We want to sentence youths in a way that will stop them re-offending and we never ever want to see them as an adult in the Adult Court.

We don’t want them to have the rest of their lives tainted by a crime committed when they were a youth. Everyone has the capacity to change for the better, to improve. We want to sentence 10-17 year olds in a way that punishes as is appropriate, but also provides reparation and a way to avoid being stigmatised at 40 because they were stupid, emotionally immature, easily led, or without any family stability at the age of 15.

This is not to say I am a total bleeding-heart liberal. I’ve sent youths to custody, sometimes the same youth three or four times over a period of several years. This is never something Youth Magistrates do lightly. A few months to a 15 year old is a much longer period of time than it is to an adult.  What I am passionate about is diverting youths out of the criminal justice system where possible.

Life changes a lot more in a few years when you’re a teenager than it does when you’re an adult. This is where youth sentencing comes into its own. It is much more tailored to the individual than adult sentencing. They’ll receive a sentence that may include supervision, learning some thinking skills, some victim awareness sessions, some work with an agency about substance abuse, some help with education or even finding a job or a flat, some reparation in they local community, often in the area where they live, some unpaid work. It may also involve a tagged curfew.

I’m not going into the details of all of the many sentencing options here; we have many options:  Reparation,  Referral Orders, Community Orders, Detention and Training Orders. I just want to give a flavour. Youths will work with the Youth Offending Team who will give the magistrates a very thorough report about them which assists us in sentencing. We talk to the YOT in court as well and ask them what they think about the youth and the progress they are making. We hope for the best because the youth justice system often works very well and has many dedicated and capable people working in it. These bespoke sentences do work.  Out aim, our desire is for the young people to get an education, a job and to understand their responsibilities. That’s got to better than a criminal record, prison and a life on the dole.

Now and again we get a nice surprise. Like the 14 year old whose mother refused to come to court with him so he got there by himself, keen to do his Reparation. Or when the Youth Offending Team give us feedback that a girl is doing so well on her Community Order that she has completed all her requirements ahead of time.

Sometimes our options are more limited. What do we do with persistent young offenders, with the boy wandering around town doped off his head carrying an axe, with the girl who overdoses in the court waiting room when she is due to be sentenced for assault and burglary of a house, with the youth who puts a burning rag through his parents’ letterbox, with the brothers who smash every ground floor window of an office with cricket bats, with the youth in care who is so desperate to be back at home that he keeps running away or smashing up his foster place, with the youth who attacks women on a country footpath? In these very serious cases the options become much narrower and will often end with custody.

It is the last resort but we won’t shirk from it.