According to the Collins dictionary, Borstals are “an
informal name for an establishment in which offenders aged 15 to 21 could be
detained for corrective training.” (Collins
Borstals were first introduced in 1902, using the image of
public boarding schools with secure locks as a template, with the simple theory
of trying to encourage an individual to reform. The concept being if the
delinquent was subjected to brutal exercise, house masters, dorms, endless
lessons and a strict regime, they would develop a sense of pride and self-discipline,
deterring them from further committing crime.
was not permitted, except in exceptional circumstances and with special
The day would start
at six AM with a two-mile run before breakfast, which consisted of cold
porridge, bread and jam, with none being provided for those who lacked effort
or failed to complete the task. This was followed by cleaning and chores,
consisting of bricklaying, construction work, farming and hedge trimming as
well as six hours of education in the evenings at a borstal or local technical
colleges, rounded off with singing and drama workshops. The food served was
basic but filling, youths were normally in good health and visiting was often
implemented to encourage training, corrections, and developing employability,
it’s focus was not to enforce punishment. For some, borstals offered more than
they received at home. For example, having three meals per day.
delinquents were released, they were assisted with housing, employment and funding,
which went in favour of the reoffending rates, which were low.
Borstals were not
just for boys alone. Girls were housed separately in female only borstals. The
girls were taught to cook, clean, sew, iron, basic farming skills, nursing and
flower arranging. They were rewarded with enjoying leisure which consisted of
dancing, netball matches, ping-pong and group exercises.
structure and strict routine would suggest that it was a safe and controlled
environment it was known to be otherwise, with bullying amongst the boy at its
peak. Housemates of Rochester Borstal were constantly searching the local
Medway Valley in the 1940’s for missing delinquents, with over one hundred
escapees per annum.
given unfixed sentences of up to five years for minor offences (such as, petty
theft and minor assault) until deemed fit to return to living amongst society,
with most fit and eager to return to employment, in favour of the principle set
out thanks to the skills and training within borstals.
Borstals went on to
run for over eight decades until it saw abolition under Margert Thatcher’s
government in 1983, leaving a significant gap in the youth justice system.
Mayor Boris Johnson approved of the borstals adding that “the
unique combination of hard-work, self-improvement and rigid discipline were far
more effective than the youth offender institutions that replaced them, which
seem to offer a daily diet of snooker and television on wide-screen plasma TV’s” (Fryer,
Over the most recent years, there has been
growing concerns towards anti-social behaviour, disorder and the disruption it
can have within communities. For example, between 1995 to 1998 calls to the police for offences rose by 19% (Hopkins
Burke and Morrill, n.d.). after the death of James Bulger in 1993 by two young
boys the age of ten. Not only did this heighten the fear of crime and change
societies perception of children, but also saw the abolition of the Doli
The state responded by putting legislation in
place with vast amount of measures to protect the most vulnerable people from
intimidating behaviour. This act is known to be The Crime and Disorder Act 1998
(hereinafter, CDA 1998). Section 1, addresses anti-social behaviour seeing
enforcement of anti-social behaviour orders (hereinafter, ASBOs) issued to
individuals over the age of ten who acts in a way that is considered to cause
harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same address.
This is considered a state response to protect the welfare of society and
prevent further disorder of the same kind. Events leading to the enforcement of
an ASBO may not necessarily be criminal, but if breeched can amount to a
maximum prison sentence being imposed for up to five years.
ASBOs were introduced
under New Labour’s governing, influenced by the Prime Minister visiting the United
States. With the general election nearing, Labour and the conservative party
competed against one another, each accusing the other of not putting fears of
society as a priority in retrospect of the rise in crime and disorder. Labour
accused the conservatives of enforcing law but forgetting to imply order
indicates future disorder. Labour successfully won the election with promises
to be tougher on crime and the causes of crime.
behaviour (hereinafter ASB) causes alarm and distress as well as heighten the
fear of crime, if left unresolved can lead to criminal behaviour escalating.
ASB is difficult to define. Research has found that police forces do not have a
specific definition for ASB, has been describes as whatever minor problems
intrude on the daily life of communities, resulting in the police being called (Burke
and Morrill, n.d.).
An extensive study of anti-social behaviour across the UK was conducted
by the Policy Action Team (hereinafter PAT) of the social exclusion unit at the
Home Office. The study drew attention to the following, highlighting problems
which needed to be addressed:
More prevalent in deprived neighbourhoods.If left unresolved, can lead to neighbourhood decline.Increases neighbourhood decline and heightens the fear of crime.Problem derived from social exclusion and deprivation, with a clear
link between the broken windows theory by Kelling and Wilson, which concludes –
that in order to control disorder, the police must decide on the appropriate
level of order then apply informal rules to maintain a level of what is
considered acceptable in respect of the community.
Zero tolerance was introduced in the 1990’s focusing on the solution. Using
order maintenance to tackle low level crime at an aggressive rate prevents
serious crime and should result in a reduction of crime and disorder. Using
order maintenance suggests that the incorporation of multi-agency partnerships
be applied to tackle the root causes to crime rather than the symptoms.
The underclass are permanently at a disadvantage in particular. The CDA
1998 provide local authorities and key partners responsibility for the
prevention of crime and disorder. The New Labour justice policy was heavily
influenced by left realist criminology. Left realist argue for less centralised
intervention and to see its replacement with local multi-agency-based forms of
crime prevention and control. The CDA 1998 provides a statutory duty for
agencies to work together as a partnership in order to maintain disorder within
Youths in particular were highlighted as a substantial risk of posing
as a threat to the order of society, finding that lack of parental supervision
and truancy, identify as some of the contributing factors. These were concluded
from the audit commissions report on youth offending. Thus, the incorporation
of these factors are applicable under the CDA 1998.
Justice and Criminal Evidence act which saw the introduction of referral
Justice and Courts Act 2000, enabling courts to increase powers to
penalise parents with children of poor attendance at school
Criminal Courts (sentencing) Act 2000 allowed the provision of electronic
monito2ring and surveillance of the youth
In 1996 an Audit commission report argue that despite a large amount of
money have being invested within the youth justice system, the interventions
remained inefficient and ineffective. Under the labour governing the CDA 1998
put in place a specific requirement that youth offending is to be addressed
through a multi-agency response. Youth offending teams were formed, replacing
social workers and local authority services. These services consist of a number
of different people from several partnerships, including, the police,
probation, social services, health, education, drugs, alcohol misuse and
housing. Youth offending teams (hereinafter YOTs) also work in partnership with
other crime reduction agencies and voluntary services. Staff can either be
seconded to work within the team, as well be employed directly by the team,
both working toward the same vision of preventing offending by young people and
children. There are now youth offending teams in every local borough across
England and Wales (Pycroft and Gough, 2010), which are centrally monitored by the Youth
Justice Board (hereinafter YJB) also set up under the CDA 1998.
Research has shown that early intervention at an early stage in life
can reduce crime, which is arguably more effective and costs less. It has also
been acknowledged that young people have needs which cannot be met by one
individual service itself, so therefore important to bring all the other agencies
into partnershi0p in order to receive the best outcome possible. The home
office suggests that offending from young is linked to several problems and
that it was important to bring experience and skill from partnering agencies.
Under section 39, local authorities must set up youth offending teams youth,
probation committees, police and health authorities must cooperate in such
provision and in the making of the youth justice plans for the area. Although a
consultation paper was issued in the early 1998 by the department of health
entitled: working together to safeguard children: New government proposals for
inter-agency co-operation, which did not mention youth offending. One could suggest
that the partnership of multi-agency networks are crucial because crime
preventative measures have not been given adequate priority and resources. The
way in which children at risk of offending or do offend are protected will
depend on the nature of the partnership between the partnerships.
if preventive measures were put in place, were widely available and do
not stigmatise or criminalise then it would be welcomed.
suggested that the targets that were set out to be achieved have been missed,
suggesting that youth crime has not declined and the measures necessary to prevent
crime have not been achieved.
played a key factor in preventing offending, as it helps to maintain attendance
within schools and employment. The importance of suitable accommodation was
highlighted in the murder of Marian Bates, a jeweller who was killed in
Brighton in 2004 by Peter Williams, a young offender, who at the time was under
the supervision of Nottinghamshire youth justice board. Since 2002, measures
have been taken to assure that offenders are allocated to an accommodation
officer, ensuring that all offenders are provided with suitable accommodation
and employment or the skills to enter employment are crucial. The Home office
have previously argued that the chances of reoffending for those who truant
from school are three times higher than those who do not and in 1995 it was
reported that 60% of convicted youths were unemployed and not in education or
In conclusion it is
evident that post world war 2, the police were heavily responsible for pursuing
crime and restoring order. Children were treated as adults and it was not
understood that children have unique needs compared to that of an adult. The punitive
approach through the conservatives governing saw a significant increase in
crime and fear heighten as the murder of James bulger changed the way that
children were perceived, eliminating the doli incapax. It could be easily
argued that the punitive approach saw a rise in crime due to the pressures of
society as well as reoffending rates increasing due to not having a joint
partnership amongst authorities. During the election Labour accused the
conservatives of enforcing the law and forgetting the order, using this concern
through society to then win the general election with promises to be tougher on
crime and the causes of crime, but was this the case? It is clear that the CDA
1998 has implemented a vast amount of policy in order to protect the welfare of
the state, but this also labels the individual and outcasts them from society.
In areas that were most deprived there was a significant difference in the
crime rate, compared to that of the working class. Not only did labour
implement legislation in order to restore order, but it has been noticeable and
reported that crime has not been reduced within youths and that ASBOs were
handed out too freely, allowing the individual to be subject to criminal
offences if the ASBO is breeched, even though it has been given an ASBO does
not mean that criminality applied. Furthermore, the strategies put in place to
reduce crime have not hit the targets that were promised to deliver, i.e. tough
on crime and the causes of crime.
In order to be truly
successful at reducing crime, authorities need to be more realistic when
addressing the causes of crime and not just the symptoms. Another suggestion to
try and tackle youth crime is to use more positive role models, so positive
behaviour can be learned.