I was a little taken aback by this story in the Cambridge News of the decision, as part of the review of Home to School Transport, to maintain support for some of our youngsters who have been involved in the criminal justice system. The fact that it made the front page, despite the fact that it was only about 5 children, confuses me.
It is easy to take a hard line on issues like this, but that hard line is often borne out of short-term thinking and a lack of understanding of the reality and the facts. The reason a youngster gets onto the wrong side of the law are complex, but revolve around choices, peer pressure and often, but not always, poor parenting. There are loads of examples of people that look back on their lives and are grateful for having made the right decision at the right time. Well there is a flip side to that, which is that some young people sometimes make poor choices. Of course they should be punished where those choices break the law, but we should also understand the causes and, where they then start to do the right things we should support them and recognise the efforts to turn their lives around. That is not just compassionate it is sound economics.
If we refuse to pay transport costs to those individuals and it leads to just one of them returning to bad ways, the costs further down the line would pale into total insignificance compared to the short-term costs.
Anyway, the knock-on from this making front page news in Cambridge is that I expect it to be picked up in the National media. The Cambridge News mentioned the fact that it affected just five children on page five (towards the end of the story). I wonder if the National media will even mention it?