IARS Young People’s Response to the Youth Justice System Review

  The IARS Youth Advisory Board, in partnership with the 99% Campaign are pleased to submit a response to the departmental review of the youth justice system for the Ministry of Justice. The review that is led by Charlie Taylor examines evidences on; ·         What works to prevent youth crime and rehabilitate young offenders, and how this is applied in practice; ·         How the youth justice system can most effectively interact with wider services for children and young people; and ·          Whether the current delivery models and governance arrangements remain fit for purpose and achieve value for money. An interim report was published in February 2016 and a final report is expected in September 2016. The IARS Youth Advisory Board, in partnership with the 99% Campaign, has taken the initiative to respond to this open consultation representing the views of young people. Specifically, the response aims to provide insights on the use of restorative justice in the youth justice system and its potential to support prevention, diversion, rehabilitation and reintegration. In the framework of the review the Youth Advisory Board and the 99% Campaign conducted online surveys calling young people to share their experiences of the youth justice system as well as restorative justice. The response also builds on the expertise and previous work of the IARS International Institute in the area of restorative justice. The full response was drafted by the Chair of the Youth Advisory Board Faisal Kassim and can be found...
Police! Stop and Search – Finding Solutions to Duggan’s Verdict

Police! Stop and Search – Finding Solutions to Duggan’s Verdict

So the jury reached its conclusion: Mark Duggan was lawfully killed. Amidst a series of  assaults and accusations made at the Police and Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the question that remains is, why is there such a divide between many communities and public institutions? And why is it that young people, particularly those with the extra complication of ethnicity, are still not treated as individuals deserving of equal status to that of the average middle age, white citizen? In discussing the Duggan case, very recently Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy recollected his own run-in with the police. In 2005, whilst making his way home from a constituency event, he and his brother were stopped in their tracks – 2 Black men driving an Audi – and accosted by a group of heavily armed police officers. Following a simple explanation of the MP’s identity, the police changed their tack and apologised for the inconvenience caused. The question is, what would have happened if that same person was lacking in status – would his race have overwhelmed his claim of innocence and what if he were 20 years younger? The riots which followed Duggan’s death were a shocking reminder of the widening divide between the police services and the younger generation, particularly groups who are often excluded from mainstream society. Some claim this gulf has been exacerbated by an acute lack of trust felt by those young people who are the main targets of ‘Police powers of stop and search’. Of late, stop and search powers have taken on a notorious significance. They have been blamed for a disproportionate...
Challenging Hate Crime: The Only Way To End It!

Challenging Hate Crime: The Only Way To End It!

When you hear the term ‘hate crime’, one of the main words that instantly comes to mind is discrimination. Hate crime and discrimination are both defined in the same way, but hate crime is an a offence against unjust or prejudicial treatment towards different categories of people on the grounds of race, religion, age, disabilities or sexual orientation. The majority of those targeted by hate crime usually suffer in silence due to fears of further physical or verbal abuse by their offenders. Hate crime is an abuse that can be committed against a person or property. A victim does not have to be a member of the group at which the hostility is targeted. In fact, anyone could be a victim of a hate crime. On Monday the 9th of September, as a 99% Campaigner I participated in a workshop set up by IARS to raise awareness about the issue of hate crime. At first we were presented to by two lifelong campaigners, Councillor Wilma Nelson, the Liberal Democrat Council Ward Rotherhithe, and Richard Walker, Chair of Speaking up Southwark. They both spoke about their experiences when suffering from hate crime and how they managed to rise against it.  Councillor Nelson had suffered from racial discrimination when she was first relocated to a new area as the only black person in the area. She spoke about how she had to deal with people from different ages calling her names and vandalising her home. Once she reported it to the police, the response she received was shocking. The police officer suggested that she moved from the area as she would...
How to Tackle Hate Crime – More Punitive Measures or More Education?

How to Tackle Hate Crime – More Punitive Measures or More Education?

Very recently I had the privilege of taking part in IARS’ hate crime workshop with many other young people in the UK. The workshop was designed for young people to be influential in government policy-making by adding their voice to the Law Commission’s policy consultation on whether hate crime laws should protect more groups from physical and verbal abuse. Through our input we would be making a change to the state of our communities to help prevent crimes motivated by prejudice that result in violence. The workshop was held at the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey with guest appearances from Councillor Wilma Nelson, Liberal Democrat party representative for Rotherhithe and Richard Walker, the chair of Speaking Up Southwark, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. They both shared their inspirational experiences of confronting hate crime here in the UK. During the workshop we discussed punitive measures in regards to hate crime and spoke about Enhanced sentencing, (higher sentencing for a particular crime). Currently the sentencing for hate crimes are as follows: Aggravated offences such as aggravated criminal damage have a maximum penalty of 14 years in comparison to a basic offence maximum penalty of 10 years. Our workshop discussions led me to discover what changes would be happening in the near future. I found out about the ‘Challenge it, Stop it, Report it: The government’s plan to tackle hate crime‘ which is the action plan the government have set up to tackle hate crime with proposed solutions and preventions. Part of this plan has encouraged the Home Office to publish the findings of the British Crime Survey. Those findings contributed...
How can we tackle hate crime?

How can we tackle hate crime?

Britain today is a multicultural society with people from all backgrounds living side by side; however when tensions rise we see multiple news stories displaying crimes motivated by prejudice towards race, religion, sexuality and disability. Fortunately I have never been the victim of hate crime but know what it feels like to be targeted and singled out because you are different, whether that be because of race or religion. There is a thin line between these kinds of crimes and harassment, even though most are not reported at all. A recent crime survey shows there were at least 260,000 hate crimes in the UK – this is six times the amount reported to the police. According to the legal definition hate crime is defined as:  “Any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s religion, race, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity”. What is important to recognise is that while this definition includes a number of groups vulnerable to hate crime law, the punishment for each category is often applied unequally. For example, hate crimes committed against racial and religious groups can result in a maximum sentence of 7 years for the perpetrator; while sentencing for hate crimes based on someone’s sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity has a maximum sentence of 5 years only. It was at IARS’ workshop that I was able to learn more about the topic of hate crime. This workshop took place last Monday, 9th September and was a fantastic opportunity for young people to voice their opinions to...
Murder in Woolwich, don’t let the racists divide us

Murder in Woolwich, don’t let the racists divide us

In the last month, two brutal murders took place on the streets of Britain, the first was Mohammed Saleem. Mohammed, a 75 year old Muslim, was stabbed to death in Birmingham, the victim of a racially motivated attack. The second, Lee Rigby, was hacked to death with a machete in Woolwich. The first of these deaths was par for the course. Oh sure it made the news. But ultimately it was just one in a sad, constant stream of racially motivated murders where the victim is of African, Asian, Caribbean or Arab descent, and the assailant is white. The deaths were not the subject of a national conversation. Ed Miliband did not cut short his trip to Germany for them. David Cameron did not provide any brave speeches, promising that Britain would never buckle in the face of incidents like these. There were no COBRA meetings. There was no talk of ‘terrorism’. White people were not invited on to television to condemn the murders and reaffirm that the majority of white people are peaceful, because that question was never implicitly raised in the first place. There was no ‘Arab Defence League’ plaguing the streets in the aftermath, drunkenly attacking churches. The second of these deaths was different. Lee Rigby was white, and the lunatics who murdered him were black Muslims. This, of course, changes everything. All of the above occurred in the case of Lee Rigby, everyone is aware of that. Facebook, Twitter and the traditional media have been aflame with debate about it. Representatives of Muslim organisations were invited on to major media outlets to condemn the attack...