Letter: Cynicism and hypocrisy over Bryn Melyn's 'failure'

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am appalled at the political cynicism surfacing from spokespersons of all parties over the question of Gloucestershire Social Services sending a young offender to Bryn Melyn and subsequently on a trip to Africa. Most of the people who are making the noises now know perfectly well that all social services departments throughout the country have been using such establishments for a considerable time and the reasons for that are simple.

First of all, and most importantly, it works. The success rates on preventing re-offending are much higher than in any secure accommodation. Eighty per cent of the young offenders who go to Bryn Melyn do not re-offend, whereas the figure for secure accommodation is that 70 per cent do. Second, it is cheaper. The cost of sending a young person to such a place is approximately two-thirds of what it would cost to keep them in secure accommodation, so what is achieved is the reform of the young offender at a cost much less than locking them up.

However, it is clear that these political 'talking heads' are not interested in anything but the populist view that 'young criminals must be seen to be punished', regardless of whether they continue to be a 'thorn in the flesh' of our society. Privately, all these people will admit that it is preferable to do just what Gloucestershire Social Services has done. Publicy they will say whatever the populist view is seen to be. This is the point we have arrived at in our public life. The hypocrisy sickens me.

Yours faithfully,

MAUREEN RUTTER

Gloucester

30 December

The writer is Labour Group Spokesperson on the Gloucestershire Social Services Committee.

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