Ray Mallon, Middlesbrough Mayor, Says Children Should Be Targeted 'In The Womb' To Stop Criminality

The mayor of Middlesbrough has said children from troubled families should be targeted "in the womb" to stop problems in later life.

Echoing Tony Blair, who rolled out a policy in 2007 that singled out the unborn babies most likely to commit crimes in later life, Ray Mallon told BBC Look North:"We should target children whilst they're in the womb… because it's clear that you can work out by the parents which kids are likely to have problems."

To prove his point he told the programme one mother had given her 13-year-old daughter ecstasy tablets as a birthday present.

Mallon drew on his experiences as a former police officer to back up his claim, saying the same families were getting into trouble every year.

Labour MP for Middlesbrough Andy McDonald supported Mallon, telling the Huffington Post UK that early intervention was critical.

He said: “Social deprivation is an issue for all of us, but particularly in northern towns and cities ignored by the Coalition.

"Early intervention is critical to help those families that suffer from social and economic exclusion. Targeting resources at the most vulnerable children and young people can save much greater sums down the line.”

Earlier in March, the government said a 'troubled families' programme, which had identified 62,000 families to work with over a three-year period, was “on track” and had already turned around the lives of 1,675 family members after just nine months.

Troubled families are defined as those families which "cause problems to the community around them, putting high costs on the public sector." They have a parent on benefits and family members involved in crime or anti-social behaviour and can additionally have health problems.

Rolled out in 2007, Blair's Nurse Family Partnership programme is a scheme imported from the states that identifies babies at risk of future anti-social behaviour at 16 weeks gestation. Mothers are then offered health advice and parenting support. The latest review of the scheme in 2012 was largely positive.