Letter: Young offenders beyond shame

Sir: The most objectionable aspect of the proposal to identify young offenders and thus to use shame as a correctional instrument ("Penal groups attack plan to name young offenders", 2 September) is that it will not work.

Offenders commonly come from family homes that have been fractured by poor housing and hopeless (relative) poverty, or violence, or alcohol abuse, or delinquent associates. Rates of expulsion from school are rising alarmingly, and the offenders and their parents are already so socially detached from ordinary routines and expectations that it is pointless to threaten them with the ostracism of being named as petty criminals. Being named in a rogues' gallery will probably be seen as an emblem of toughness by many culprits.

The scheme is yet another pre-election ruse under which politicians can be seen to be "tough on criminals" while really being evasive on the social causes of crime.

Dr GARY SLAPPER

The Law School

Staffordshire University

Stoke-on-Trent

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