One of the pleasures of BBC-watching is observing the way some special interest group is promoted as 'independent'. Provided that special interest group has a liberal left agenda, of course.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of criminal justice, where pro-criminal organisations like the Howard League and Prison Reform Trust must have a car and driver on standby 24/7, so many studio guests and Today programme interviewees do they supply.
This report was publicised on Today (RealAudio) and national radio news. Sunday's Radio 5 Julian Worricker report discussed it. Worricker lined up an array of 'criminal justice professionals' including Master-lookalike Rod Morgan, the seventies throwback ostensibly in charge of 'Youth Justice'', and the Howard League's Frances Crook, who must by now be able to find her way to a BBC studio blindfold. One other guest brought a jarring note to the liberal consensus - a lady from Glasgow whose daughter had been murdered by one of Mt Worricker's 'Convict Kids'.
The BBC report says :
The independent Commission on Young Adults and the Criminal Justice System was set up in the summer of 2004 by the Barrow Cadbury Trust.
A range of people involved in the criminal justice system, including doctors, lawyers and criminologists, were invited to give evidence.
As the excellent New Labour Unplugged reveals, the 'independent Commission' has no official standing, and is about as independent as a BNP branch meeting. It consists of a number of people, all of whom but one appear to be funded by the taxpayer. Hangers and floggers need not apply. I quote :
The membership of the preposterously entitled Commission on Young Adults and the Criminal Justice System says everything you need to know about its conclusions. And like similar reports from other bodies who handpick the experts they want to give the answers they want, its membership also highlights how an elite of dubious university departments, political charities, so-called not for profit organisations, human rights lawyers, think tanks and public sector bossyboots provides an intellectual underpinning for New Labour - courtesy of government grants and contracts which border on the corrupt.
As NLU points out, these people, arguing that 22 year old 'youngsters' need 'help to grow into adulthood', are the sort usually to be found campaigning for votes at 16.
The conclusions of the 'Independent Commission' ?
Using prison sentences is counterproductive and magistrates should avoid imposing custodial sentences until the age of 23, the report said.
It also argued that young offenders under the age of 23 should not be required to disclose their criminal convictions to potential employers.
That's a good idea. Then these vulnerable kids could avoid jail. And this poor 23 year old, kept out of prison as part of our oh-so-successful community punishment regime, could be convicted of abusing a child and still get work in a school, were he a few months younger.
"A convicted criminal given work at a primary school as part of a court community service punishment went on to sexually abuse a child, police say.
Ian Missing worked as an odd-job man at the un-named school after being convicted of common assault.
The 23-year-old, of Chelmsford, Essex, had previously been accused of sexually abusing a child but not prosecuted."