IT IS exactly fifty years ago that I first moved to Brighton as a probationer constable.  Fifty years ago there were no homeless people sleeping rough on the streets and there were no people begging.

What we did have fifty years ago was a large stock of council owned housing, and a large stock of affordable rented accommodation. 

We also had full employment. Every Thursday The Argus carried some half a dozen pages of job vacancies. 

What we also had was a very large highly visible number of uniform beat constables.

Genuine homeless were given advice and guidance as to where to seek help. People who came into the town thinking that they could doss down where they liked were very quickly moved on. Something else that we didn’t have that blights the whole of society today was an army of social scientists making excuses for the criminals. Poverty is an excuse to commit crime. It is not a reason.

Repeat offenders were sent to prison. There were no feral juveniles wandering the streets. Repeat juvenile offenders were sent to borstal or approved schools where the cane enforced discipline.  It may not have done the individual children any good, but what it did do was prevent them inflicting their psychological or social problems on to the rest of society. 

They were prevented from contaminating decent children of parents who wanted  to bring up their own children knowing right from wrong.

Juveniles could be sent to an approved school for merely being beyond the control of a parent or guardian.  Fifty years ago young offenders could be sent to a detention centre for three or possibly six months. 

Once there they were given such a rough time that very few ever went back again for a second helping.  Having failed my probation, I went into banking and finance for six years. 

Having passed a number of professional qualifications I was able to rejoin the police and served in West Yorkshire between 1976-1985.  My career was terminated because I was put in prison for three months for a crime I did not commit.

 It took me nine years to clear my name in an uncontested appeal. So I have seen the legal system at it’s best, it’s worst and its most corrupt. 

Having served three months in prison, I can see why it is no longer a deterrent against crime. 

The prison was awash with drugs. No realistic attempt was made by the warders to control the problem. To the warders, a happy doped up prisoner was easier to control than an unhappy sober one. 

There were insufficient warders to attempt to enforce discipline even if they wanted to. 

The solution is simple.

Put police officers back on to the beat.  Use the prison population to build new prisons for modern times. Dartmoor was built by French prisoners to house themselves during the Napoleonic Wars.  

Cover the cost by selling the inner city prisons to developers. 

Most important of all, stop making excuses for criminals. People do not commit theft because they need to.  They commit theft because they are not prepared to put in the hard work or effort to obtain the good things in life by honest methods.

Stuart Bower, Hallyburton Road, Hove