Letter : How to sort out bullying neighbours

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article "Labour targets liberals on crime" (19 September) outlines Jack Straw's accusation that the Probation Service has "lost touch with public thinking" concerning young offenders.

Youth crime will not be reduced by rigorous enforcement or severe sentencing.

Research has emerged indicating that the programmes designed and implemented by the Probation Service perform over 20 per cent better than custody.

Many persistent young offenders have chaotic and often tragic lives; parents and schools will have had little influence and the young person's priority will be surviving in what they see as a hostile world. A comprehensive programme to reduce criminality amongst young people should include guidelines and practical support for those parents who are having most difficulty in raising their children.

Political spokespeople, on both sides, manage to reinforce the public belief that only harsher treatment can work.

The public is being misinformed by suggesting simplistic and unrealistic solutions. The Probation Service remains committed to the concept of being "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime".

ARNOLD BARROW

Chief Probation Officer

Suffolk Probation Service

Ipswich

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