I am reading in July/August 2013 Professional Social Work magazine (BASW) that Alan Goldsack, QC, Recorder for Sheffield that children of career criminals need to be removed at birth as crime runs in families much the same way that being a doctor or lawyer does. If I am being absolutely fair I understand his argument. He is stating that, after 43 years in the legal profession he is now dealing with the grandchildren of criminals he prosecuted years ago. I don’t think taking children into care is tha answer however. What I do think is this point to a segment of the population that require an intervention. I know this is a probably my wishful thinking but when someone identifies a gap in a service area you can’t ignore it but I am also aware with all the cuts government needs to make (I won’t even mention how much it spent on the funeral of a certain former government official who would have been categorically against such spending were she still in office!) this is a population that is going to continue to go unattended to until something drastic happens.
I am a firm believe in the old addage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Why not commissiong a study on the recidivism rates of career criminals then use this information to target them and put in social interventions that reduce the risk of their reoffending? Why not track how many of these career criminals have children and refer their families to a social intervetion at the time of one of their subsequent arrests/convictions? Why not see whether or not areas of the country can be targetted for a piece of work as the prevalence of this phenomena is higher in that area?
I find that we are becoming way to reactive and not proactive enough in addressing societal trends. Social Work needs to get on top of this. We need to build up the research segment of our profession so we have our on specialists out there analyzing societal trends that can drive service provision. Maybe we could avoid some of the events that lead to the more reactive Social Work. Maybe we can start being a more positive presence in people’s lives. In the wake of all the work being done to raise the profile of the Social Work profession, I think one of the answer to this is to look into some of the asertions about societal trends and put in interventions and preventive services where we can to help effect lasting and positive change.
Removal is not the answer. I think a key might be re-education, investment in redirection, and addressing the behaviours and environments that create, sustain and support criminal activity. I agree that something needs to be done, but why isn’t that something a realistic and targeted approach by the justice service and the youth justice service. I am a firm believer that there needs to be more work undertaken in the arena of prevention work where youth justice is concerned. Not all children who are embroiled in youth justice are known to Social Services, so it stands to reason that the youth service step it up a bit and start targetting the children of career criminals. No, not just the children but the families as well.