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Tragic deaths in custody point to a system in need of reform

Five young people in custody died in the space of just 33 days during March and April. The tragedies mark an exceptionally horrific spell in the youth prison system. To put it in context, no more than five teenagers have died in custody during any entire year since 2005, when the figure was nine.

Riot response requires long-term solutions, not knee-jerk policies

The violence across English cities this month triggered its own riot - of condemnation, debate and knee-jerk policy pronouncements. In the days that followed the first outbreak in Tottenham, an exercise in national soul searching took place through the media. Yours truly, for one, did the breakfast TV paper review on Sky News.

Progress in joint working must go on

The decision last week to strip the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) of government funding will inevitably raise concerns that any genuine "development" of the workforce will stall. A plan for how the Department for Education intends to take forward the quango's work is yet to be articulated.

Editorial: A backward step for youth justice

The new government's decision to give the Ministry of Justice sole responsibility for youth justice in England and Wales is massively misguided. It ends a three-year spell where responsibility was shared with the former Department for Children, Schools and Families. During that time, as it happens, the youth prison population declined from 2,927 in March 2007 to 2,207 in March 2010.

Strange alliance opposes justice reforms

Ever since the overarching Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) was mooted as the replacement for the complex array of community sentences currently available for young offenders, I have sounded a note of caution. When the Scaled Approach was announced, I immediately started suggesting, in academic lectures on youth justice, that there was an historical precedent that highlighted the need for care in its development.

Poetry unlocks the minds of prisoners

Twice in the space of a week I was in Parc Prison in south Wales. The visits were at either end of a week of poetry, lectures and debate, developed and organised through an impressive and creative tie-up between the real Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye and the prison in Bridgend.

The beautiful game has started to turn ugly

In one of the first discussions on youthful antisocial behaviour during the 1990s, I noted in a speech that most of the lads' magazines tended to be preoccupied with half-naked women and bad-boy footballers.

Where are all these gangs we hear about?

What are these gangs that everyone is so preoccupied about these days? There was a time when there was some consensus that the UK, with the early exception of Glasgow and the later exception of paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, did not have gangs, at least not by the established American definition of the term.

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