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Old 05-15-2005, 11:11 AM
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Slainte Slainte is offline
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Default UK mulls U.S.-style 'chain-gang' uniforms

UK mulls U.S.-style 'chain-gang' uniforms

By Matthew Jones2 hours, 1 minute ago


British youngsters convicted of crimes that do not carry a jail term could be made to wear U.S.-style "chain-gang" uniforms when they perform community service sentences.

Home Office minister Hazel Blears outlined plans for young offenders to be identifiable when doing community service because she said the public needs to see criminals punished.

"People feel very strongly that they don't often see justice being done," Blears told Sunday's Observer newspaper.

"I would like to see a very quick connection to community punishment, that people see being done. I want them to be identified."

Community sentences typically involve activities such as picking up litter or removing graffiti. The sentences are usually given to offenders convicted of non-violent crimes, such as vandalism or driving without insurance.

Blears' comments come only days after Prime Minister Tony Blair made a crack-down on yobbish anti-social behavior a key theme to his third term in office.

On Thursday, Blair said he supported a decision by one of Britain's largest shopping centers to ban youths wearing the so-called "urban crime uniform" of baseball caps and hooded tops which conceal wearers' faces.

Blears' proposals prompted protest from civil liberty groups and some criminal justice professionals.

"People won't show respect if they are treated in a demeaning manner," Doug Jewell of Liberty told Reuters.

"Putting people in uniforms may look like you are being tough, but it actually legitimizes this kind of anti-social behavior. Some people will see the uniforms as a badge of honor," he added.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the probation union NAPO, said such a scheme could backfire and actually increase crime.

"There is no evidence from the U.S. or from Britain that going down the road of uniforms or naming and shaming will impact on crime," he told BBC television.

"The suggestion is that the reverse is the case, you will have more crime not less."

Geoff Hoon, the government's leader in the elected House of Commons said it was right that Blears was triggering debate.

"Community service has actually been very successful ... but there is a sense that it is an easy ride," he told Sky News.



Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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  #2  
Old 05-16-2005, 01:28 AM
Rostonhall Rostonhall is offline
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As I've said in another thread, I'd be very, very surprised if this ever came about. I used to work for the Probation Service as a Community Service Supervisor and I can't think of anyone who would have agreed to wear any type of uniform while completing their orders. The offenders will just opt for some other form of punishment when the Court offers a Community Service Order. You see, the Courts can't make the order without the consent of the offender and, even then, a Probation report has to be made on whether the order is suitable for that particular person. This suggestion is already causing a furore over here!!!

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