Jailbirds: Britain's young women are committing nearly 40 per cent more crimes than six years ago, and they're beginning to catch up with boys in the violence and theft rates. Filmed over six months, this observational documentary tells the stories of two of the young women behind these statistics, whose lives are stuck in the criminal justice system.
20-year-old Shona from Doncaster and 17-year-old Abbie from York have both been arrested dozens of times and imprisoned three times each. We meet them as Shona is coming to the end of her probation period, and when Abbie is released from a Young Offenders' Institute
and moves into a hostel. Both girls want to go straight and sort their lives out, but it's not as easy as either hope. Abbie's drinking and partying lifestyle means that within days of her release she's breaching her electronic tag order and missing appointments with her Youth Offending Team. Shona, briefly free of the criminal justice system, is soon shoplifting again with her best friend Jodie.
Over the months, it becomes clear that binge-drinking and drug-taking, trips to court, and packing for prison have become a normal way of life for Shona and Abbie. Both are given second chances to turn their lives around and seem happier for it, but good intentions quickly unravel and the prospect of prison looms large again for these girls.
While Shona and Abbie may seem tough on the surface, between them they struggle to cope with difficult relationships with their parents, self-esteem, homelessness and the reality of job-hunting with a criminal past. Sometimes they wonder whether life in prison is a preferable option to life on the outside.
I found both girls touchingly likeable and attractive. Indeed, I actually thought: "There but for the grace of God, go I."
They had a way with words. The blonde one, Abbie, used the word "predicament" and the other, Shona, wrote quite a good poem, I thought.
What saved me was being born of parents with bourgeois values who saw the importance of a good education, and being born of a time, of a place and of a people where such things as widespread illegitimacy are not tolerated and not ameliorated by a welfare state.
The Aztecs practised human sacrifice. Our liberal establishment practices a more insidious and infinitely more toxic form of it.