Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Why Julia Goldsworthy is wrong to support the Cornish curfew

I was very disappointed this morning to read in the Western Morning News (and to have seen on tonight's BBC News at 10) that we are to see a curfew in part of Redruth over the summer months. It will apply to under 16s who will not be allowed on the streets after 9pm.

What makes this news even more annoying is that the Western Morning News report and the subsequent BBC News Online coverage reports Lib Dem MP Julia Goldsworthy as being in favour of the scheme.

I believe that it is totally wrong to deprive innocent people of their liberty. It doesn't matter their age. Nor does it matter that this is a problem estate. Whilst I feel sorry for people who feel threatened by groups of young people, I don't think we should be punishing the young people.

According to the WMN report, Julia said:
"This is a very interesting experiment and I will be keeping a close eye on it.
"It should be trialled properly with a view to rolling it out to other trouble spots in the county if it gets results.
"While we must not demonise all young people, we have to acknowledge that youngsters don't have to commit crime or anti-social behaviour to be intimidating to residents. Simply hanging around on street corners can be enough of a threat.
I was happy to believe that Julia might have been misquoted and so got in touch straight away. Regrettably, it seems as though she stands behind much of what she said. Although she doesn't believe it should be rolled out across the county.

Apparently this is being done after widespread consultation - although not necessarily with the young people themselves. Apparently there will be extra facilities promised for young people - but there is no evidence that these are facilities that the young people themselves have asked for.

I have made clear to Julia my opposition to this scheme. Surely it would have been better to encourage dialogue between the young people and those residents who feel threatened without any good reason.

If there is crime or anti-social behaviour going on then the Police should be there to deal with it. If not, then we shouldn't be punishing young people for wanting to be outside on summer evenings (even if the weather hasn't been up to much recently).

Julia has stressed to me that she doesn't think that demonising young people is the solution. I agree. But supporting a scheme which allows for the forced removal from a public place of a person simply for being young does not seem to me the best way forward. If those fearful residents see young people being carted off by the Police then they will tend to believe that the young people concerned are guilty. To me, that is demonisation.

So come on Julia, ditch this illiberal and inhuman scheme and start a real dialogue between the different groups of residents of Redruth to see if some long term solutions can be found.


Anonymous said...

You are right on this one - Robin Young

Lee Griffin said...

It is a voluntary scheme though, is it not?

Still, voluntary or not I'm surprised the Lib Dems are in any way backing it...however it must have been a Lib Dem that came up with it at some level. I wouldn't be surprised with how backwards Cornwall's local government situation has become.

Alex said...

It is said to be voluntary, but I'm not sure in what sense. According to the reports I have read, young people out without a parent after 9pm will be questioned by Police and will be escorted home. Their parents will be prosecuted if this happens repeatedly. I don't see how this is voluntary and it sounds very much like a dispersal zone to me although it may have come into being in a different way.

James Schneider said...

Awful behaviour from a liberal. I desperately hope she changes her mind. If I were a 15 year old there I would certainly cause some late night trouble just to piss off the needlessly authoritarian rule makers.