Towards the end of last week I read a something which concerned me greatly. The use of force in some young offender instituions has increased, in some cases nine fold. The chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, says the nine-fold rise in the use of force in the past year at the Serco-run Ashfield young offender institution from an average of 17 times a month to 150 times a month is “extremely high”. Yes it is extremely high, and I am concerned that other examples will emerge, especially from privately run institutions.
Force may only be used as a last result, and it troubled me that some important recommendations in relation to safety have not been met and young people report feeling less safe and less well supported. Indeed the article, which you can read in full here, also revealed that Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, said he accepted that further work needed to be done to create a safer environment.
I would support this view firmly. There is much work to be done as our prisons continue to be over crowded, despite this they must be fit for purpose, and this is especially the case in young offender institutions.
On Wednesday the UKs unemployment figures were revealed. Unemployment among women is at a 25 year high. Unsurprisingly women are starting to question what Cameron can and will do to show he supports this large group of voters. He’ll need to move fast as twice as many women as men lost their jobs in the final quarter of 2011, and this only serves to reinforce that argument that the coalition government is in fact doing very little for women-and let’s not forget his “Calm down dear” quip a further illustration of the regard he has for women.
In this regard the Guardian last week debated: ‘Can David Cameron be made to understand women?’ A roundtable panel of prominent women discussed what the PM’s ‘adviser for female voters’ Laura Trott should say to her boss. Trott is currently chief of staff to the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, and has been appointed to ensure that government plans appeal to female voters; her appointment is a clear attempt to address the concern regarding the fall in support for the coalition among women..
Trott will take on her role in the Spring and the Guardian’s debate examined how Trott should use her influence. You can hear the podcast here.