It’s been a challenging six months. Every bank holiday weekend since the start of the year has been subject to some form of social restriction. None of us wants a return to tighter lockdown regulations, but at the same time, we long for the simple freedoms once taken for granted.
We are getting on top of COVID19, but continued vigilance is needed. I welcome the reopening of schools this week. Nonetheless, it’s important that all practical steps are taken to protect pupils and teachers. We have a responsibility to ensure that all our children are educated to helps them to make the right choices and become fully engaged with society.
Many parents have been juggling the demands of home schooling with home working. They have done an important and difficult job, particularly as the curriculum will have changed since their own school days. These twin demands have placed exceptional pressure on many Leicestershire families and we should be grateful for the patience and resilience that they have shown.
I also praise the teachers who have continued to work throughout the pandemic. They have enabled key workers to keep working, keeping essential services running for the rest of us. As is so often the case with teachers, their commitment is an example to all of us.
However, this new term brings a whole new set of challenges for teachers. Educating and social distancing must go hand in hand - not easy when this is likely to be the first time in months that many pupils have seen their friends. Regular hand-washing and sanitisers have already been incorporated into daily routines. Now; for the time being, ‘Don’t forget your face mask’, will join ‘Don’t forget your homework’ as a frequent refrain in the classroom.
Back in the world of crime and justice, there are other challenges. We need to keep on top of youth crime, particularly in light of the financial pressures borne out of COVID19.
Sadly, some young people have already been pulled into the cycle of crisis and crime. Over the last year, the Leicestershire police dealt with nearly 16,000 incidents of non-violent and petty crime, including theft and minor drug offences. Fewer than one in ten offenders were given a meaningful diversionary or educational activity or an out of court disposal. This highlights a missed opportunity to lift young people out of crisis and into a better life.
With the right support and opportunities, young people can change track – failure should never be predetermined. That’s why I’ve joined forces with the police and the Revolving Doors Agency in an ambitious pilot programme to get young offenders back on track.
Crime prevention solutions must address problems at the source. The best approaches are those that help young people overcome the issues holding them back before they hit crisis point.
The new partnership will mobilise our collective voice to fight for the resources, funding and services to deliver practical and emotional support for young people at risk of being drawn into crime.
Have a good Bank Holiday…
28 August 2020
Posted on Friday 28th August 2020