Children’s Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green has come under fire for challenging the trajectory of New Labour’s policies on youth crime.
Aynsley-Green said that the new surge of “in your face” policing runs the risk of antagonising young people. He argued that young people should be seen as part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Police minister Tony McNulty responded by saying “the Children’s Commissioner is just talking nonsense”.
Another series of tragic deaths over the past week has highlighted the urgency of tackling knife crime and violence among young people.
But Aynsley-Green is absolutely right to criticise New Labour’s response. In recent weeks Labour has trailed draconian plans for a crackdown in “hotspot” city centres and called on police to harass young people suspected of anti-social behaviour.
It has also launched Operation Blunt 2 in London – involving stop and searches in ten boroughs, using 550 metal detector wands and 244 airport-style security arches. This will lead to more harassment of young people.
These policies do not address the questions of fear, insecurity and alienation that cause some young people to carry knives or the processes that lead to some being caught up in violence.