Julian Ware-Lane supports Women in Prison’s campaign and calls for a new approach to criminal justice for women

Julian_2014_headandshouldersJulian Ware-Lane, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Southend West, has today pledged a commitment to support Women in Prison’s Manifesto which calls for a new approach to criminal justice, where the abuse, marginalisation and poverty at the root of so much of women’s offending is addressed and custodial sentencing is used as a last resort.

The campaign is a response to the alarming fact that the UK has one of the highest rates of women’s imprisonment in Western Europe. The majority serve short sentences for non-violent offences. Short sentences wreck lives, a few weeks inside can mean a woman loses her children, her home, and her job. Many women are trapped in an endless cycle within the Criminal Justice System – 45% are reconvicted within a year of release.

Julian has given his support to Women in Prison’s manifesto, which calls for:

• Greater use of alternatives to custodial sentencing
• Cross-departmental Ministerial leadership
• Support for the women-specialist voluntary sector
• Action to ensure no woman leaves prison homeless
• Commitment and acceleration of gender-specific reforms to the women’s prison estate

Women in Prison’s Policy and Campaigns Manager Claire Cain said: “We are delighted to have Julian’s support. Together it’s time to make change. No woman should be in prison as it exists today, community alternatives work, are cheaper and cause less disruption. The current system is too expensive for the public purse, and too expensive for the women’s lives.”

Julian said: “Whilst the public must be protected and crimes punished, it should never be about revenge. We must have a system that properly rehabilitates, a system that sees re-offending as low as we can get it. For rehabilitation to really work we cannot see lives wrecked.”

You can find out more about Women in Prison’s campaign at www.womeninprison.org.uk/ge2015.

ECM

Essex Community Messaging is an Essex Police initiative that allows residents to sign up for email or text message alerts about what is going on in their area.

The blurb says: Sign up for free to receive accurate and up-to-date information, crime prevention advice and notifications from Essex Police officers, Essex Watch liaison officers and other key partners, such as Neighbourhood Watch.

It is fair to sign that it is still in its infancy, but looks like it could be a useful tool in making our neighbourhoods safer.

Ah, neighbourhoods, neighbourhoods (Want to be a victim of crime? Come to Central Southend!)

Essex Police divide the glorious county up into neighbourhoods. The urban paradise that is Southend-on-Sea has six neighbourhoods. The neighbourhoods are not of equal size, and nor do they all share the same characteristics. Therefore, comparison is fraught with all sorts of complications. Nonetheless, given statistical information I am not going to ignore the possibilities.

I represent Milton ward, one of the three wards that make up Southend Central neighbourhood.

The most recent data I have shows the following for the six neighbourhoods in Southend-on-Sea.

Neighbourhood Crimes November 2014
Blenheim 276
Eastwood 106
Leigh 177
Southend Central 647
Shoebury 134
Southchurch 220

The two neighbouring local authorities data:

Neighbourhood Crimes November 2014
Canvey 224
Rayleigh 138
Rochford 118
Benfleet 78
Thundersley 70
Hadleigh 44
Hockley 39
Wakering 26
Hulbridge 14
Ashingdon & Canewdon 12

Highlights from the rest of Essex:

Neighbourhood Crimes November 2014
Harlow Central 318
Clacton Central 278
Ardleigh 5
Bradfield 4
Alresford 1

And there you have it – there were twice as many recorded crimes in Southend Central as in any other neighbourhood in Essex in November 2014. Could be a blip, could be that folks in Southend Central are more diligent in reporting crime. Could be. Could be more crime-ridden, too.

Now you know why cuts to policing are so unpalatable in Milton ward.

The broken window theory

The broken window theory essentially states that even one broken window normalises anti-social behaviour, effectively encouraging a second broken window, and then a third, and etc. The logical conclusion to be drawn is that of zero tolerance. Fix the small things, all small things, and the rest follows.

As a local councillor I am often confronted by low-level vandalism, graffiti, littering and the such like. My role is to encourage the local authority and police to address these issues, and I have had some success. However, in an era that sees local services and public services constrained by shrinking budgets it is becoming increasing difficult to sort out the broken windows; as resources become scarcer prioritisation is necessary. I understand the pressures and I understand that violent crime, for instance, has to be tackled before less serious crimes. However, there are consequences. I suspect we will see untidier neighbourhoods, for instance.

Cuts have consequences. With less money you get less. Of course, some of the cuts can come through services being more efficient, but this can only account for a fraction of what has to be saved. In policing, for instance, when Essex Police has to a more than a £70 million cut to accommodate it inevitably means fewer front-line police. Smarter policing will follow, but fewer police is not something that I have been asked to deliver; quite the contrary.

Invariably people want to see bobbies on the beat, they want the low-level vandalism sorted, they want safe neighbourhoods and criminals caught. They want zero tolerance; they are going to have to accept the reverse.

Austerity has a price.

Labour vigilant in Milton

After a number of incidents in Milton ward over the last year, local Labour campaigners are re-assuring Milton’s residents, and those who work in and visit the ward, that they are working with Police to ensure that these isolated events remain isolated.

Gray Sergeant, Labour’s candidate for Milton at the 2015 elections, said, “I am looking forward to speaking with residents, and to listening and responding to their concerns around crime. Together we can build a safer community.”

Cheryl Nevin, Labour councillor for Milton, added, “Councillors have been in dialogue with local police discussing measures to improve visibility around Park Lane following discussions at the Local Community Meetings.”

Julian Ware-Lane, Labour councillor for Milton, said “Recent incidents are not representative of Milton. This is generally a safe ward and very pleasant part of Southend-on-Sea. However, Government cuts to policing make re-assuring the public more difficult. I am committed to ensuring that residents’ concerns are listened to and addressed.”

Changes to the way Essex Police will engage with local communities

Essex Police have described the changes to the way they will engage with local communities.

• Local PCSOs will hold a weekly ‘street meet’ on their patch
• Every district will hold five or six Local Community Meetings (every eight weeks) (six in the Borough of Southend-on-Sea)
• Local Community Meetings (LCMs) will be chaired by supervisory officer (sergeant or above)
• Every LCM and street meet will be advertised on the Essex Police website in advance
• The website will show agreed local priorities as well as the activity taken to address them.

The letter I have seen includes this: While the new police-led meetings structure will replace police attendance at the NAPs, local communities are encouraged to continue to hold these meetings if they feel they provide value.

Implementation of the new structure will start on October 1st with expectation that all community areas and PCSOs will be delivering the meetings by November 1st.

The first Southend Central LCM will be held on 15th December 2014.

(It was not encouraging to see that their letter had the wrong URL for the Essex Police website.)

NM > LCM

I went to the penultimate Milton Neighbourhood Meeting (also known as the NAP) tonight. The very last will be on November 20th.

Owing to financial pressures (i.e. the cuts) these six-weekly ward meetings will be replaced from December by Local Community Meetings. These will meet every eight weeks, and there will be six of them across the borough.

Southend Central LCM will cover three wards: Kursaal, Milton and Victoria.

I am disappointed to see the end of the Milton NMs in sight, but I will work to ensure that the LCMs are a success. I have sought (and received) assurances that the new process will be reviewed after a period of time (a year or so).

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