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Iain Duncan Smith launched a new raft of policy groups yesterday, building on the foundations of BreakdownBritain and BreakthroughBritain:

  • Martin Howe QC will lead a group looking into Courts and Sentencing – how to restore faith in the sentencing process and strengthen the link in criminals’ minds between crime and punishment.
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    The Prison Reform group, headed up by Jonathan Aitken (pictured with CSJ Director Philippa Stroud), will be looking particularly at over-crowding and tackling recidivism rates through more effective rehabilitation.
  • Crime affects the poor the most, the Policing group will look at how Police Officers can do their job more effectively.
  • Vice-Chairman of Voluntary Youth Services Simon Antrobus will look at Youth & Gang Crime – how to get young kids off the conveyor belt to it, and how to help those already in the criminal justice system.
  • Dr Stephen Brien will chair the Economic Dependency group looking at how the benefits system can do more to incentives working, without penalising those who genuinely can’t.
  • Housing will also be covered, Kate Davies and her team will look into the problems such as social housing reinforcing dependency, and over one million houses being unfit for human habitation.
  • The Asylum group chaired by Julian Prior will, making the distinction with economic migrants, will assess the current situation in which a majority of asylum seekers can’t work, claim benefits or even volunteer.
  • Looked-after children, i.e. children in state care, have amazingly dismal prospects in life – Ryan Robson will chair a group assessing how the system can be improved, and how sending children to care can be avoided.
  • Dr Samantha Callan will chair the Family Law Commission reviewing recent developments in family law and the Early Years Commission examining effective ways of intervening

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The launch was in the Salmon Youth Centre in Bethnal Green and was attended by many people from small charities in London. As usual for a CSJ event, rather than hearing from politicians we heard from people on the ground, including a moving poem recital by a young girl about a young black lad who was shot in his bed recently.

There was a lot of talk, rightfully, about young people needing love, role models, stability etc, sitting alongside talk of the more distinctly conservative approaches of empowering society rather than the state, helping people to help themselves, and supporting risk-takers.

Deputy Editor

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