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Samantha Callan: Early intervention is key to stopping young people turning to crime shimAdd News397 to Scrapbook

ConservativeHome is today beginning a series of policy-orientated pieces looking at how we take young people off the conveyor belt to crime. We begin with this article from Samantha Callan of the Centre for Social Justice looking at the importance of early intervention.

The best time and place to apply the crowbar to the conveyor belt to crime is before it starts moving – early in a vulnerable child’s life or at the first signs of trouble. When police were first faced with rioters they were criticised for collecting evidence of acts of disorder and not preventing it from happening in front of them. Yet that’s precisely what we tend to do with our most troubled families: we condemn their parenting when their children and young people fall foul of the law but are reluctant to step in – and help – before the line is crossed.

The emphasis on Early Intervention that runs through almost every important report on improving social mobility cannot remain a lofty concept in social policy – or be used to justify even more state intrusion into family life. Early intervention rests on a recognition that children’s physical, social, intellectual and emotional development is heavily influenced by their early experiences. Healthy brain development, in particular, requires a nurturing and responsive parent or caregiver. Abused and neglected children are at least 25% more likely to become involved in delinquency, to fall pregnant in their teenage years and to become drug users, as well as to suffer from mental health problems.

All too often this repeats a dysfunctional cycle – perhaps one of their parents was an addict or severely depressed and unable to meet their emotional and physical needs. Sometimes a tragedy strikes an otherwise robust family, parents find themselves unable to cope and there is no one else around to prevent the children falling through the cracks. Divorce and separation can also hit children hard. It’s not all about the early years but they do set the tone.

There is a strong role for civil society in family strengthening as parents helping parents should always be the first place to start. Community-based initiatives that aim to build good social networks can provide the timely injection of support that prevents problems from escalating to the point where the state has to step in. Similarly, the private sector not only encourage employees to volunteer (and gives them time off to do it) but also develops socially beneficial programmes based around their core business. Mothercare puts on high quality parenting workshops in its stores after hours – drawing early on a trusted brand is more motivating than being mandated onto a course by social workers later on.

The Early Intervention paradigm has to revolutionise the thinking of local authorities, health commissioners and educators so they see the effort of ordinary people through voluntary and private sector initiative as indispensable. Helping families and children before problems escalate requires services to work together well and outside of usual professional and sectoral silos – this is not about passing families from one service to another. The ability to build strong relationships with families where there is mutual trust is essential, again often done best by voluntary sector organisations. Concentrating on parents’ and children’s deficits is far less effective than finding grounds for encouragement and building on these, requiring flexibility and sensitivity to family dynamics.

What does Early Intervention look like?

  • Family Nurse Partnerships for teenage mothers and the voluntary sector (such as Community Mothers and Fathers Programmes) working with a revitalised health visiting profession to support other vulnerable expectant mothers
  • Better identification of post-natal depression (again, health visitors working in partnership with befriending schemes and Home Start) and parent-infant therapy in Children’s Centres to help parents bond with and nurture their babies (by voluntary sector providers such as OxPIP, Family Links and others)
  • Mentoring programmes working within and alongside schools, using local but well-supervised volunteers. These help children work through why they are ‘acting out’, showing aggression and other early signs of conduct disorder and also draw in parents
  • Community-based relationship education to give couples good pointers before they get into entrenched crisis – and before they need highly trained therapists.
Child Poverty Action Group statement on Prime Minister's speech and plans to remove benefits from rioters shimAdd News396 to Scrapbook

n response to the call for a Family Test on government policies and plans to remove benefits, Imran Hussain, Head of Policy at Child Poverty Action Group, said

Family Test on government policies

"If the Government’s thinking about prioritising families, then it needs to rethink the policies harming families. Attacking child benefit, cutting tax credits and reducing support for childcare all flunk the Family Test, hurt families and weaken our society.

"The Government came in promising to cut child poverty, saying the previous government hadn’t done enough, but the IFS has shown that its policies will increase child poverty by 300,000 in the next 3 years.

Plans to remove benefits

"The David Cameron of 2006 was right, we need to address poverty if we want strengthen our society and prevent social unrest. Rather than scrambling to show they’re doing something tough, ministers should be recalling what they’ve said in the past about the damage done to our society by poverty and inequality.

"Knee-jerk plans to remove benefits from people convicted of less serious offences are dangerous and very likely counterproductive. How can a society that delivers double punishments for the poor, treating the rich and the poor differently, be called a 'fixed' society or the kind of world we want to live in?

"By contrast, those convicted, but not in receipt of benefits, will not be similarly sentenced to this 'destitution punishment'.

"Even ignoring the administrative nightmare of removing benefits and dealing with the inevitable fresh claims by dependants, it’s a recipe for exclusion and social division.”

For further information please contact:
Imran Hussain
Head of Policy, Rights & Advocacy, CPAG
Tel. 020 7812 5216 or 07816 909302

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Race played a part, but not as Starkey imagines it shimAdd News395 to Scrapbook

Well done Starkey, you splendid old chap, for fearlessly voicing your obtuse and racist views on the riots, and exhuming old Enoch to be your witness and prophet. As he sizzles in Hell or flaps his wings through fluffy clouds, the politician must wish he were here today when vulgar chauvinism well enunciated by learned Englishmen has become such a badge of patriotic honour. In his time (well before the PC armies apparently took over these isles) Powell was banished from the Tory front bench by Ted Heath.


It was on Newsnight that David Starkey CBE, shared his perverse opinions. The BBC certainly knows how to pick them. The ill-tempered, snobbish presenter is a Tudor historian and therefore clearly has much to tell us about street action, inner-city life, policing, fractured lives and localities and the distempers of modernity. It's all happening, he says, because white kids have turned "black", are wearing low-slung pants and have absorbed the mutinous ways of Caribbeans and Africans. Jamaican patois, too, has "intruded on England" and made England a "foreign country".

Such ignominious racial and ethnic scapegoating is embedded in Britain's past. Years back, in his sober study, Race, Policing, Lore and Disorder in a Multi-Racist Society Michael Keith wrote of earlier civil disturbances in Britain: "People conceptualized rioting as a form of pathological contagion, commonly associated with black communities, a contagion that threatened to spread from those points at which disorder had first erupted." In one of the most disrespectful interviews I have ever seen on television, the black activist and broadcaster Darcus Howe was accused of being a rioter in the past by a BBC presenter. Of course the usual suspects have come out to blame migration and that new term of abuse, "multiculturalism".

Inevitably, Starkey has been roundly supported by the right and now claims he was talking about the culture of "nihilistic" black gangs not race, as if racism is only ever that extreme revulsion some feel about dark pigment. We should discuss culture specific crimes and behaviours – like honour killings and indeed black violence, or poor education and drug dealing which is the main business activity in some ethnic enclaves. Starkey didn't do that. Instead he blamed black people for white anti-social behaviour. So, the endless, ugly Catholic/Protestant wars in Scotland and Northern Ireland are the fault of people like Ms Dynamite. And violent football fans would be purring pussycats if that dratted MV Windrush hadn't docked. And those drunken weekend skirmishes on our streets, well that's just Englanders expressing their melancholia caused wholly by the sight of darkie gangstas roaming their green and pleasant land. And was Dianne Abbot – not accused of any expenses fiddling – the real reason why moralists like Michael Gove and David Cameron claimed what they should not have for expenses?

We now know that a celebrity academic can be stupid and a careless carrier of unattended, infectious bigotry. Well, let me not be too hard on the "national treasure". I suppose this furore does compel us to consider the impact of race and ethnicity on the troubles. These weren't race riots in the good old-fashioned sense. Racial disadvantage still blights prospects in Britain, though there has been much improvement since the hardest times back in the early 1980s. Some of the young Britons of colour who came out last week, might have been protesting with terrible inarticulacy against a destiny that never changes. But most of the other troublemakers came from a variety of backgrounds. It wasn't an uprising by black Britons against overtly discriminatory police action either, even though the trigger had been the shooting of a young black man by police officers. Nor was this a conspicuous conflict between different ethnic communities or yet another episode of endless strife caused by disaffected Muslims.

The murder of the three Muslim men in Birmingham, allegedly by black men, was prevented from turning into internecine war by the exceptional moral behaviour of the bereaved families. So far, the city has avoided the catastrophic hostilities of yesteryear between black youths and Asian shopkeepers. But, truth to tell, race, religion and ethnicity still stain the way people feel, act and try to understand what has happened.

Why, they ask, are people described as "Asian" when they behave nobly (as they did in Birmingham) and "Muslims" when the story is negative? And, there are complaints from the area where the dead men lived. A Muslim resident told a newspaper: "One black man is killed and there are riots across the UK. Three Asians are killed and you don't see an MP." A young Brummie Asian woman with a black boyfriend has gone into hiding: "They now are sure all blacks are animals when before they just thought that. They will kill us both."

The same antipathy is evident elsewhere. Young black men say they are treated like scum by Arab, Turkish and Asian businesses. It is worrying, too, that some anti-riot groups are identifiably exclusive, like the white battalion in Eltham where Stephen Lawrence was murdered by racists and the muscular Southall Sikh troop, who said they would see off any rioters. Beware of self-made enforcers – vigilantism is volatile and tribal. Consider too the way society has reacted to recent breakouts. When young black men are killing each other, or deeply dysfunctional estate kids of all races tyrannise their neighbourhoods, it is their problem, and few give a damn. Now that they have broken out, sometimes enthusing well brought-up white kids, everybody suddenly takes it very seriously. Race and class determine everything, even when they seem not to.

We can't afford to be so divided, mistrustful and prejudiced against this group or that. The millions who are revolted by what just happened had better understand that to bring greater national unity we need to hear less from the likes of Starkey and more from wise people like Tariq Jehan, father of one of the dead men in Birmingham who talked so movingly about our collective humanity. But, as they would say on Newsnight and other political programmes, where's the story in that?


David Cameron's speech on the riots shimAdd News394 to Scrapbook

Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a review of Government policies following last week's riots, to ensure they are bold enough to fix a "broken society".

Mr Cameron said he would speed up plans to deal with anti-social behaviour and improve parenting and education.

He said the riots had been a”wake-up call for our country” and anysecurity fightback must be matched by a social fightback.

"Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face..

"Now, just as people wanted criminals robustly confronted on our street, so they want to see these problems taken on and defeated.


"Our security fightback must be matched by a social fightback. We must fight back against the attitudes and assumptions that have brought parts of our society to this shocking state.”

Over the next few weeks, the Coalition Government will be reviewing all policies and programmes to consider whether they are bold enough to deliver the changes needed to mend society.

The PM also said there would be a stronger police presence on the streets as part of the "security fightback”. And he said the police would be cutting the burden of bureaucracy which until now has meant officers spending the majority of their time filling in forms and stuck behind desks.

As part of the social fightback, the PM announced that more emphasis will be placed on families and parenting with a”family test” applied to all domestic policy.

"If it hurts families, if it undermines commitment, if it tramples over the values that keeps people together, or stops families from being together, then we shouldn’t do it.

"More than that, we’ve got to get out there and make a positive difference to the way families work, the way people bring up their children…”

Mr Cameron also pledged action to "turn around the lives” of the 120,000 most troubled families in the country by the next general election.

The Government willbe extending its programme of National Citizen Service, working with businesses, charities, schools and social enterprises, so that it is available to all sixteen year olds.

Open for All? National policy, regional issues and the role of the VCS in an age of Localism: 4th October in Manchester shimAdd News392 to Scrapbook

The VCS cannot afford to under-estimate the scale of the change that is coming as the government aims to open up public services, transfer more and more power to communities and individuals, and radically re-structure how the sector is funded and supported. Finding a way to navigate this changing environment will be crucial for the survival of organisations and the vital services they deliver.

VSNW’s annual conference will explore the opportunities and challenges for the VCS in the North West, amidst current government policies on Big Society, health, the economy, employment, volunteering, and VCS infrastructure.

With a strong focus on national policy and its implementation in the North West, attendees will learn more about the emerging agenda, how it will impact their organisation and those they support, and how they need to respond. Attendance is free for VCS organisationsand lunch will be provided.

Keynote speaker: Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, the Shadow Civil Society Minister.

Book your place online here

Download a booking form here- please return to Helen Walker, Administrator, VSNW, St Thomas Centre, Ardwick Green North, Manchester, M12 6FZ or email

MENTER response to the recent riots and violence shimAdd News391 to Scrapbook

MENTER is part of the national BME VCS Coalition which issued a statement on the riots and violence. To read this statement please see the BME VCS Coalition facebook page.

We agree with the Runnymede Trust that speculation does not help us in a situation where apparently people appear not to care enough about the neighbourhoods and spaces where they live or the moral consequences of their actions often on equally disadvantaged neighbours. We need clear, dispassionate evidence before we can begin to work together to build a society which does not fracture in violence and destructive looting. As Dr. Berkeley from Runnymede puts it "There is no excuse for rioting, but it is crucial that we understand the context in which it happens” if we wish to put an end to this.

At MENTER we are concerned about growing race inequalities and the dismantling of some of the current safety measures that act against racism and discrimination. If BME people feel they are facing increasing poverty and discrimination, without any prospects of improvement the consequence may well be increased mental stress or violence. BME people currently make up half of Job Seeker claimants in London although they represent less than a third of London's working age population. Evidence from the EHRC submission to the UN shows that "ethnic minorities are more likely to experience discrimination in the private sector (35%) than the public sector (4%)”. We know that rising youth unemployment figures (now near a million, with 46% unemployment rates for Black young people) coincided with the end of measures such as the Future Jobs Fund and the Education Maintenance Allowance. The Runnymede Trust shows that there was in 1981 a 20 point gap in achievement between Black and White schools – today in Haringey this has increased to 35 points.

The Equality Human Rights Commission submission to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Race Discrimination highlights their concern that Government proposals to remove legal aid for appeals for schools exclusions and employment matters (including discrimination cases in employment) will have not only a disparate impact on certain ethnic minority groups but a "chilling effect on access to justice for workplace based discrimination cases” and will impact on the human rights of BME communities. The EHRC notes that: "The Government has introduced the ‘Equality Strategy: Building a Fairer Britain' which sets out its vision for the future of equality and implementation of the strategy. In addition it has established the Inter-departmental Ministerial Group (IMEG) which will have oversight for all aspects of equality. We agree that there needs to be an integrated approach to equality. However, it is also important that government does not take a ‘one size fits all' approach to equality. It is disappointing that the wider equality strategy has no specific focus on tackling race inequality and the Minister with responsibility for race has not publicly set out his proposals for the approach to be taken”. Failure to tackle structural race inequalities or poverty rates of 60% in some BME communities will have an impact on the economy as a whole and the social health of this country – not just on the marginalised and dispossessed.

On the 10th of August, a panel discussion on Newsnight was asked if there was some element in Black culture that made criminality cool e.g. through rap music. Given the reputation of Newsnight it is astonishing that a statement like this can be made i.e. that all people who have a certain pigmentation of skin share a singular and common culture regardless of country of origin, class, age, gender etc.! This is one of the worst stereotyping examples we have come across. The BBC News interview with Darcus Howe (now on YouTube) is perhaps another illustration of casual comments from the media that give a skewed and wrong perspective, if not a racist one, when the interviewer (Fiona Armstrong) can decide, with no evidence, that Mr. Howe is not a stranger to rioting and completely ignore his comments on the destructive impact of disproportionate stop and search of Black people. Comments on blogs about the riots illustrate far too often views that the present ills of society are a compound of unnecessary immigration, leniency in cases of crime by "foreigners” and work shy young people. If these views are reinforced by statements from politicians and the media we are likely to see a detrimental impact on cohesion and race relations that will not help in building the kind of society we wish to live in. MENTER is committed to developing projects that help build healthy, cohesive societies that value a diversity of cultures. MENTER also wishes to host public discussions of some of the underlying contexts e.g. what we mean by community and what we collectively want our society to be. Our website will post details of these proposed projects from September.

It is a sadness to me that a speech I made in 2004 on the impact of racism in impeding cohesive or resilient communities still has so many relevant points – given that the main quotation was from "The Invisible Man”, a book written by Ralph Ellison in the 1950s. To read this speech please click here. Danny Dorland's recent analysis in his book "Injustice (why social inequality persists)” states that we will continue to have dysfunctional societies if we continue to believe that elitism is efficient, exclusion is necessary, prejudice is natural, greed is good and despair is inevitable. MENTER today reiterates its commitment to challenging these tenets and to work for the positive aspects of rebuilding vibrant and cohesive communities in the East of England.

To join us in this, or for more information please contact

RSMP: Working with Roma in the North West shimAdd News390 to Scrapbook

The report highlights areas of good practice across the North West and provides insight into the number of Roma people living in the region, along with the issues this gives rise to, and the work undertaken by statutory and voluntary agencies to ensure positive community relations.


The report is published by the Regional Strategic Migration Partnership, The North West Strategic Migration Partnership provides a framework within which issues pertaining to inward international migration and migrants can be discussed, and information exchanged. An important part of its function is to represent the views of North West England to government.


Click here to read the full report

Equality and Diversity Forum organisations responses to August violence shimAdd News389 to Scrapbook

A number of Equality and Diversity Forum organisations published blogs and commentary on the disturbances in London in early August 2011.

Dr Rob Berkeley, Director of the Runnymede Trust, published a blog on 8 August 2011, ‘Tottenham – a tragedy we should have seen coming?’, suggesting we have failed to learn from the past.Click herefor link

Elizabeth Henry, Chief Executive of Race on the Agenda (ROTA) argues thatwe must ‘listen to the young people in the community; ‘do’ with them, not unto them’.Click here for link

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, argues that ‘it is vital that the IPCC undertakes a speedy and thorough investigation into the death [of Mark Duggan]. This wanton violent disorder serves only to distract from that vital inquiry’.Click here for link

NCVO is providing a space on its website – ‘Review and renew’ – for voluntary and community organisations to share their experiences and insight on the recent disturbances across the country. The space also has links to other blogs, opinion pieces, statements and actions relating to the disturbances.Click here for link

European Commission synthesis report on LGBT groups, ethnic minorities and employment shimAdd News388 to Scrapbook

The European Commissionnetwork of socio-economic experts synthesis report for 2010 refers to discrimination issues in the labour market for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) and ethnic minorities.

Click here for part 1 of report on LGBT groups in the labour market (pdf)

Click here for part 2 of report on ethnic minorities, migrants and employment (pdf)

Click here for information about European Commission networks of experts on anti-discrimination

Shadow report to the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination shimAdd News387 to Scrapbook

In July 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published its shadow report to the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Thereport draws the Committee’s attention to the key issues that the Commission considers are impacting on race equality, highlights gaps in the State report, and makes recommendations to the Committee for government to take action.

Click here for details

Click here for report (pdf)