Trevor has just informed us that following discussions with Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Le Marquand he has agreed to put his proposition to establish a working group to develop a strategy for dealing with young offenders ‘on hold’ until April.
Trevor explains: ‘Having been one of the politicians who called for the urgent construction of an all-encompassing ‘Children’s Plan for Jersey’ (whilst Vice-Chairman of the Vulnerable Children’s Services Scrutiny Review), I’ve taken this decision to allow us to see if all that is needed can come out of the work recently commissioned with Andrew Williamson. Similarly, to establish if the claimed ‘reactivation’ of the Corporate Parent which failed so dismally in the past can now live up to its responsibilities. It’s no good just having a new name – it has to deliver.’
Nevertheless, Trevor is keen to stress that at this stage he is certainly not pulling or abandoning the proposition.
‘Like the Minister I obviously do not wish to see any work unnecessarily duplicated,’ he told us. ‘But one of the pleasing outcomes of my earlier proposition, P148, was that the debate around it in November 2009 has really contributed to focussing people’s minds on the urgent need to get to grips with the issue of young offenders.
Thus, given that things have finally begun to move somewhat I’m happy to put the proposition on hold for a couple of months to see what develops. But I will be watching the situation closely. This is not just about sorting out the Youth Justice system. Far from it!
We need a root and branch look at everything that underlies and contributes to young people ‘going off the rails’ and offending. If the work initiated by the Home Affairs Minister and his colleagues fails to deliver in terms of the necessary depth then come April I will bring the proposition back to the States for debate. This is just too important to risk not getting right.
Trevor also told us of his real frustration with the failure of Ministerial government to utilise the many different skills and work experiences of Members existent within the States.
‘I obviously have very real concerns about how the Chief Minister has consistently told us he is committed to ‘inclusive’ government - yet time-after-time has acted to implement the exact opposite. Setting up this style of strategy group would have been an example of precisely the way the States should be making use of individual Members professional experience and skills to get the best results for the community.
This is an area of work I am passionate about coming from the background that I do; and where I would like to play a part. Many other ‘backbenchers’ feel exactly the same about other areas. We appear to have taken a step in the right direction with the recent acceptance by the States of the Fort Regent working group advocated by Scrutiny. And if we are not to forever be a ‘them’ and ‘us’ government then this is surely the way forward that we must be willing to follow. Unfortunately, I admit I can’t help feeling that for many within the COM ‘inclusion’ is just a convenient sound-byte for the spin-doctors’.