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Congratulations: you’re going to be a criminal

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From a recent Guardian article (24/03): “Every child to be screened for risk of turning criminal under Blair criminal justice plan“. Is this the nanny state gone mad – should we soon be expecting double-speak and the ministry of truth?

“A new-style “11-plus” to assess the risk every child in Britain runs of turning to crime was among a battery of proposals unveiled in Tony Blair’s crime plan yesterday.

The children of prisoners, problem drug users and others at high risk of offending will also face being “actively managed” by social services and youth justice workers. New technologies are to be used to boost police detection rates while DNA samples are to be taken from any crime suspect who comes into contact with the police…”

It is hoped that these “who wants to be a criminal?” tests (no steal a phone from a friend, or mug the audience) will allow early intervention, thus stopping the child turning to crime, by providing them with support workers and creating preventative programs to tackle social exclusion and drugs.

Can we really tell who is going to be a criminal from one psychometric test?  I think not.  Saying that some child is going to be come a criminal at age 11 is not only massively deterministic but is morally dubious as well.  As psychologists we know about the effects of labeling and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Obviously, this idea has found itself facing massive criticism from other MP’s as well as the public.

You can find the full Guardian article here.  Discussion and thoughts in the comments as always.

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