Youth crime is a massive national problem - but the conventional narrative of crime and justice gets it wrong.
Reoffending rates for those who leave young offenders' institutions are appallingly high, yet the obvious point that the economic and social problems faced by young people are made incomparably worse for ex-offenders is often ignored.
So the publication of the justice select committee report on youth justice was a welcome and refreshing change.
This thorough presentation of the levels of crime among young people was presented to the chamber by the committee's chairman Alan Beith last week.
Nationally we spend £246 million on young offenders' institutions. Many of these young people then embark on a life of crime and end up in adult prisons.
Obviously this is not only counter-productive to society but also an incredible waste of public money.
The committee visited Denmark and Norway and examined their "MultifunC" system to see how young people are treated after a first offence or indeed repeated offences.
Under this system young offenders are placed in a secure communal environment with a high degree of social work and psychological and educational support. They continue attending school or college and family visits are encouraged.
Although initially this is a far more expensive system than operates in Britain, the results are a very low rate of reoffending. Britain, by comparison, has a reoffending rate of at least 35 per cent and in some cases is very much higher.
As young people grow into adults, too many offences follow them for the rest of their lives, despite in many cases their having completely changed their approach to society.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act was an innovative piece of legislation by the 1974 Labour government and the committee's report recommends that the process of writing off offences from the record go much further so that employment and education opportunities are more widely available. It also commended employers who are prepared to take on young people knowing they have a criminal record.
The report went on to express concern at the use of restraint and better independent investigation of deaths in custody.
The excellent charity Inquest has presented comprehensive evidence on deaths of young people in custody, and revealed the horrifying statistic that there have been 272 deaths of young people under-21 since 1990. Ninety per cent of these were classified as self-inflicted.
The horrifying number of suicides suggest that there is insufficient examination of the background and life chances of each young person entering detention.
Treatment of young people involved in gangs was another area identified for potential improvement.
Many young people who peripherally or naively become involved in gangs can face prosecution by the use of the law of "joint enterprise."
This means the prosecution can claim that a crime was actually a joint enterprise, even though there need be little or no evidence against an individual save for their relationship with the perpetrator or presence in the vicinity of the scene of a crime.
In a previous report the select committee called for new guidelines from the director of public prosecutions on the use of joint enterprise. These are now in place and will be reviewed again next year.
Perhaps most importantly though we need to change the language we use regarding the treatment of young offenders and look at the causes of their offending.
There is a clear relationship between youth crime and poor housing circumstances, often combined with educational underachievement. Indeed, in some cases young offenders may have undetected mental health issues.
Of particular concern is the treatment of young people in local authority care where a much higher proportion than the rest of the community become involved in crime and consequently end up in detention.
The committee's recommendations are that local authorities, as their guardians, should have much better levels of contact and support with them both before and after their release.
Like with all ex-inmates, it's very important that there be adequate housing and support given to prevent reoffending and ensure that these young people get a reasonable chance in life despite having been living in local authority care.
There has been a decrease in the number of young people entering the criminal justice system.
However, the programme of cuts and austerity that the government is putting forward, alongside the plethora of contracting agencies and privatisation of much of the justice system calls into question whether this trend will continue.
Too many young people in custody need better education and support, better health support and even such less obvious support such as as speech and language therapy is vitally needed.
Increasing poverty, poor-quality housing for many people and enforced displacement by the benefit cuts do not paint a good picture of the future.
I welcome this report because it has helped to develop the narrative that condemnation of young criminals does not actually solve the problem.
The language of punishment and imprisonment which certain MPs and media outlets use lead to a higher prison population, a higher rate of reoffending and a more insecure society.
We only have to look across the Atlantic to its vast privatised prison system with enormous rates of reoffending to realise he futility of this approach.
Lessons from Scandinavia, with a more comprehensive welfare state and a more enlightened crime and justice system are, generally speaking, help develop much more secure societies.
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