Gor what a bunch of NIMBYists we are in London. In the week that sees residents determined to thwart plans to turn Spitalfields into a club venue, and the month that Kensington residents complained about the Gaza protests, we now see rising fears about government plans to extend the use of bail houses in the capital. One in Lewisham has actually been closed following complaints.
The government has trialed a scheme in several cities wherein prisoners who are due for bail or who have not yet been tried can be tagged and released into the community to live in a ‘bail house’. The houses are run by private contractor ClearSprings. The idea seems more humane, and is certainly more cost efficient than keeping them banged up. David Hanson, the Justice Minister, has said that the system allows children to rejoin their mothers and has helped some offenders to forge new careers. Just because one of these hostels has been less than successful does not detract from the overall premise and promise of the scheme. We can understand the fears of parents living near such properties, but those accused of or sentenced for violent crimes, racial offences or those involving children are not eligible for the facility.
Now for a city that prides itself on its multi-everything-ism, this idea should barely ripple the surface of the urban pond. Of course we can (and must) take the rough with the smooth. We all live and breathe recycling: where better place to start than with those fellow human beings who need a little help with rehabilitation. The day that our society stops giving people the benefit of the doubt and ceases to want to help - well, that’ll be time for us all to bail out.
Get over it, London.