We all know that it makes far more sense to invest in prevention instead of cure. Not only does it mean better outcomes for the individuals concerned it normally costs the Government less too.
- Investing in proper probation work with ex-offenders to ensure they don't become reoffenders saves on policing, on court costs and on the prisons system and helps communities and the individuals
- Investing in supporting those from the most 'at risk' situations (children in care, children in deprivation etc.) from becoming offenders by improving child protection, improving care services, offering counselling and improving their schooling saves all of the above plus helps these individuals find employment and contribute to the tax system rather than being a cost to it
- Investing in parental antenatal education and other interventions for parents, offering free universal and good quality childcare and early education and providing access to adult literacy and numeracy for parents to help them teach their children / bond with them too will have a huge impact - offers even more positive outcomes than those listed directly above and all for the lowest possible cost (saving on policing, courts, prisons, children in care services, remedial schooling etc.)
So we know all this yet we still spend far too much money on tackling issues rather than early education and parental support. Early intervention goes beyond this quite traditional example too. It is the same in healthcare where its better to encourage active lifestyles than it is to spend money on gastric bands and heart surgery on the NHS.
The Coalition Government seemed to be very keen on early intervention. They commissioned several reports on the issue including a particularly fantastic one by Labour MP Graham Allen yet little action seemed to follow the rhetoric.
I think Labour should put forward a proposal for a cross-party 'Early Intervention Audit Committee' in the House of Commons. This would have full select committee status and act like the 'Public Accounts Committee' by scrutinising all Government spending, legislation and other policies and then providing a critique in the form of reports which would set out recommendations for how Government could better use their resources to refocus on earlier interventions and prevention rather than dealing with the much more socially scaring and economically painful costs of addressing the failings that arise otherwise.