More focus on manners and politeness is needed

I think that this applies across the board but I had the honour and pleasure of representing the Council last Thursday at the Official opening of the new Heron Wing at the Feltham Young Offenders Institution.  There was genuine excitement about the potential and it is an excitement that I share.  As the Mayor, Boris Johnson, got across schemes like this make sense both financially and for everyone in society.  I was also impressed with the speech given by Jack Straw MP.  It got me thinking about whether he is an example of a politician who comes across much better in the flesh than on television.

I disgress…

I visited a number of stands that had been set up for Guests.  I also read some of the literature and criteria that is considered for agreeing to an application for early release.  All sensible stuff and whilst there is an explicit reference to good behaviour, there is none to good manners.  The two are not always the same.  I am guessing that Good Behaviour could be down, for example, to an Offender not showing any violence or aggression towards others.  Of course, good behaviour is critical but taking a view on how an Offender being released will interact and speak with others is surely critical also.

They have a difficult job to do at FYO with most being on remand.  Notwithstanding that, they do their very best to enhance Skill Set of the Offenders whilst they are in their care.

I doubt that anyone would disagree that there is a better chance of these Offenders re-offending when there has been an investment in Skills Training with/on/in some of these young men.  I think that this Popular Consensus is established.

Would anyone disagree that there is a better chance of re-offending not happening when these young men have demonstrated that they understand the importance of being polite?  I would hope that every Offender leaves our Institutions in the future understanding that “Good Morning”, “Please”, “Thank you”, “Excuse Me” etc are necessary when interacting with others.

Good Manners and politeness are certainly under played these days.  Both need to be more explicit in policies of the next Government.

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3 Responses to “More focus on manners and politeness is needed”

  1. Mark Savage Says:

    Some very good points, Mark, with which I mainly agree, and particularly with your comments about Jack Straw (though I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him in the flesh like yourself).

    However, you’ve fallen into the double negative trap by the wording of your fourth paragraph which unintentionally changes it’s meaning, I think?

    “I doubt that anyone would disagree that there is a better chance of these Offenders

    re-offending

    when there has been an investment in Skills Training …”

    I think there’s a ‘not’ missing before re-offending- at least I hope there is!

    However, while I agree with you generally about politeness and good manners, I think we have to be wary of assuming that apparent politeness and good manners could not also be present where a criminal act is being committed. Sadly, too often in ‘confidence trick’ type crimes, or ‘diversion’ thefts, the victim has been caught out by the apparently polite and harmless manner or intentions of the person who steals from them by scam or while an accomplice pinches a purse, for example.

    While we need to encourage politeness and manners, certainly, at the same time the old adage “all that glisters is not gold” might apply here? Good as gold behaviour and manners can- though mercifully rarely- be found in criminals as well as the innocent public.

  2. Mark Bowen Says:

    Thank you for pointing out the Double Negative and you are right about the missing word.

    “I think we have to be wary of assuming that apparent politeness and good manners could not also be present where a criminal act is being committed.”

    I do not believe that I made such an assumption. This comes down to probability. There is popular consensus that Skills Training gives Offenders a better chance for the future in terms of turning away from bad behaviour and criminal activity. No-one would say that it is full proof. The same thing applies to good manners and politeness.

  3. Mark Savage Says:

    Thanks for your response, Mark. I wasn’t actually saying that you personally made an assumption that good manners and politeness always go hand in hand with reformed offenders- just making a point about the way perhaps society in general can get caught out by making such assumptions. Now it’s me not making myself clear, I think, by careless use of language, perhaps 🙂

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