Short sharp shock ‘is not the answer’

27th July 2009.''delinquent youths' ie: Gemma and Lisa disguised in hooded tops to illustrate a young people drinking'PICTURE BY MATTHEW PAGE
27th July 2009.''delinquent youths' ie: Gemma and Lisa disguised in hooded tops to illustrate a young people drinking'PICTURE BY MATTHEW PAGE
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YOUTH workers say plans to deliver immediate harsh sentences to youths who commit drunken crimes go too far.

Instead, those who work with teens on the Fylde coast say money should be put into helping problem youngsters.

The Government wants to deal with youths immediately in magistrates’ courts if they go on booze-fuelled rampages at the weekend.

Courts would sit in the early mornings, evenings and at weekends to deliver swift justice and, it is hoped, a harsh wake-up call.

But Laurance Hancock, operations manager at the Boathouse Youth, South Shore, says more time and effort should be focused on what makes youths commit crime.

Mr Hancock said: “I don’t think the answer is tougher sentences.

“There should be more effort going into finding out how they turn to alcohol because it is the same old story of kids not having enough to do.

“When we did a consultation with kids in South Shore we approached a group who were drinking and lighting fires in bins.

“After speaking to them, it turned out they were nice kids and said they had lit the fire because they were freezing.”

Mr Hancock claims too many young people in Blackpool have nowhere to go and as a result turn to alcohol.

He added: “When you look at the other side of the wall it’s often very, very different and there is not enough money for kids.”

Nicole Burke, chairman of Blackpool Young People’s Council, also believes in finding the root cause of the problem first. She added: “I’m an advocate for preventative measures and instead of punishment, the Government should ask themselves why they are out drinking and committing anti-social behaviour.

“People need to be given aspirations and it comes down to social factors like young people in poverty which we need to focus on.”

But Coun Eddie Collett, portfolio holder for community safety at Blackpool Council, welcomed the measures and said offenders should be dealt with as soon as possible.

He told The Gazette: “If the police have felt an arrest is needed, then the quicker they get in front of the judges, the better. At the moment, somebody can be locked up for two or three days before they go to court, so it has to be dealt with in a different way.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, added: “We all want to see a faster process between a crime being committed, and the case coming to court.”