Young offenders: Prime Minister
to monitor children from birth
Children could be monitored from birth to see if they
are at risk of becoming criminals under plans announced by Prime
Minister Tony Blair last week, which opponents have branded middle-class
Universal checks could be carried out throughout a
child's development focusing on key stages such as the move from primary
to secondary school.
The public policy review Building on Progress:
Security, crime and justice suggests children are monitored for
"trigger" factors including parents being sent to prison or addicted to
Shadow home secretary David Davis branded the plans
"the nanny state gone mad" and said there is no evidence that early
intervention will stop children becoming criminals.
The Department for Education and Skills said it is
unlikely the children's information sharing index will be used for this
plan because it is prohibited from carrying case information about a
child, or the opinions of any workers coming into contact with the
child, under the Children Act 2004.
Terri Dowty, a director of Action on Rights for
Children, said monitoring children in this way would be hugely
impractical and costly and would involve adding more information to the
Common Assessment Framework database. "Children are likely to be
affected by being branded a future criminal," she said. "This is
discriminatory and will pick on children who are from poorer areas. It
smacks of the middle classes believing they can create more 'people like
Last week also saw plans to split the Home Office
announced. The plans propose a new Ministry of Justice that will oversee
youth justice and the courts. The Home Office will remain in charge of
anti-social behaviour and immigration policy.
Kathy Evans, policy director at The Children's
Society, said the plans were a missed opportunity to put the DfES in
charge of youth justice.
4 April 2007