In an op-ed in today’s Guardian, a British advocate for young criminal offenders reports that after August’s UK riots protocols for youth justice were tossed out the window:

“About a quarter of participants in London were under the age of 17, yet all protocol regarding youth justice was ignored. Youth services have worked hard over recent years to establish a rulebook for young offenders, designed to keep them away from the dangerous chasm of the adult justice system. Youth courts, specially trained magistrates, targeted assistance by youth offending teams, triage and assessment, social worker involvement – all have been slanted towards rehabilitation and welfare. This good work was overturned when young people were “herded” – another brave word from Greany – from police cells into the adult courts. Long sentences were imposed. Young people who might have been helped to live differently are now in jails, dispersed all over the country to rub shoulders with career criminals and murderers.”