The news in regard to child safety issues has been nothing short of horrendous lately. The murder of five year old April Jones in Machynlleth and the tales of Jimmy Savile’s abusive behaviour make for grim reading.
The broader picture is that, beyond this, our children are potential victims of speeding drivers and, not uncommonly, family crime such as parental abuse.
If elected I will introduce my Child Safe programme in consultation with the community at large. Before that vital consultation takes place I do not wish to draw hard and fast lines. However, schemes for consideration might be:
1. Safe walk-to-school routes and play streets patrolled by fully checked volunteer Street Wardens.
2. The use of sniffer dogs in secondary school and sixth form environments to ensure that schools, and the school gate, remain drug free.
3. Better monitoring of children in care. Having served on a county Children’s Committee, I am well aware of the serious problems created by measures to ensure anonymity for vulnerable children. These well intentioned measures make it difficult for officials to keep track of vulnerable children once they enter the system and are flagged up as endangered. I will see that steps are taken to ensure better communication and better protect the vulnerable in Devon, Cornwall and the Islands.
4. And for those children who do get into trouble with the law, I will reintroduce Remand Fostering where young offenders who do not merit imprisonment cannot safely be returned to a home environment where they are subject to family abuse. I will also ratchet up the use of home detox nurses for teenagers who become addicts.
5. I will use more Restorative Justice and Community Payback for young offenders post arrest as an alternative to bringing charges under the criminal justice system. I will also increase the use of the mentoring system for young recidivists.
6. I will promote better communication between the police and probation service so that the probation service is properly and speedily informed if, for example, someone in their care is rearrested.
All of the above commitments will only go forward in consultation with parents and teachers and other interested parties. I will listen. That is the only sensible way in which we can proceed. I do not believe in remote policing. The police are part of the community and must be seen to be a part of the community.