24th September 2018

The argument proffered by Les Twentyman on how we should treat young offenders  is however flawed and omits important steps in the process of accountability for young people.

The argument that Police not intervening in potentially violent events is the best strategy as intervention may increase violence is sadly a myth as it infers police are the instigators of the violence. It is however, their obligation that they must intervene to maintain law and order as their obligation is to the broader community. We have seen recently non-intervention spawns more disobedience.

The perpetrators instigate the violence by their civil disobedience. Civil compliance does not generate violence.

Often overlooked in commentary on perpetrators, particularly young people, is the Police Cautioning Program. Not to be confused with a Caution issued by the courts.

The Police Cautioning Program is in need of updating and should be properly resourced and  broadened substantially. Investing well in this program will be substantially cheaper and as statistics point out more effective than the Courts. Sadly, the program has seen a trend towards less use of this important tool over recent years, which correlates to the increase in crime. Research shows that the program has the best non-recidivism rates of any of the law enforcement functions as shown in the Crime Statistics Agency research.

There is no doubt that there is an important role for Youth workers to be an integral part of this process so that the Police Cautioning Program can build on its non-recidivism rate already better than  the courts best efforts.

The community wants lawlessness to be curtailed as it manifests but will support a program that helps correct young people’s behaviour without long-term consequences, but there must be some consequences.

Press reports give the impression that the number of cautions issued by the Courts is quite high so why not give the caution by Police and cut out all the waste.

We know that there is a better chance of the police caution working anyway.