Labour teaches kids the new 3 Rs: Remand, Raw, and Recession

by Stephen Tall on August 27, 2009

Three stories today – see if you can spot the blatant connection.

First up, the first R: Remand. Lib Dem research today revealed that over a million kids have been convicted of a criminal offence over the last decade, with a further million cautioned since Labour came to power in 1997. Here’s the breakdown of figures as revealed in an answer to a Lib Dem parliamentary question:

* 1,033,454 children aged between 10 and 17 have been convicted of a criminal offence since 1997. This includes almost 30,000 10 to 12 year olds.
* The number of 10 to 12 year olds convicted rose by 87.2% between 1997 and 2007. Among 13 to 15 year olds, it rose by 54.6%.
* 1,172,599 children aged between 10 and 17 were cautioned for a criminal offence under Labour.
* In the same period, 2,251,798 young adults (aged 18 to 21) were convicted and 577,424 were cautioned.

Here’s what Nick Clegg had to say about all this:

These shocking figures show how Labour has criminalised a generation of our children. It is a disgrace the Government spends eleven times more locking up our young people than it does on backing projects to stop them getting involved in crime in the first place. Dragging young people through the criminal justice system for minor offences is the best way of helping them to graduate to a more serious life of crime.

“Labour talks tough on crime, and then creates more criminals. It’s time to talk sense and act smart to stop the young offenders of today becoming the hardened criminals of tomorrow. We need to see innovative approaches that ensure children make amends to their victims and put things right, rather than immediately criminalising them. The Liberal Democrats propose a new approach to youth justice that prevents young people from getting into crime in the first place.”

(You can, by the way, read all about the party’s approach to youth crime here).

Now for the second R: Raw. Here’s a snippet from today’s Guardian:

The Liberal Democrats today released data revealing that the number of 16-year-olds leaving school without five GCSEs graded A*-C since Labour came to power is expected to reach 3 million tomorrow. David Laws, the Lib Dem education spokesman, said: “These shocking figures reveal the true extent of Labour’s failure in education. After over 10 years in power, it is deeply concerning that around one third of pupils are leaving education without even achieving the basic standard of five good GCSEs.”

And now for the final R: Recession.
The Tories also released some figures today, these showing that 1.9 million children live in homes where their parent(s) don’t work – in total, 3.3m UK households have no-one in a job, with an astonishing 4.8m adults reliant on benefits to live. As Lib Dem shadow work and pesnions secretary Steve Webb noted, “”The alarming jump in numbers of households where no one is working is a sign that the recession will have a devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of families.”

It’s a toxic combination: increasing numbers of children failing to achieve even the minimal educational qualifiications at a time when employment is harder to find. And what’s worrying is that even during a period of strong economic growth, Labour still contrived to ensure more and more young people were criminalised. What will happen over the next five years during more impoverished times?