'Don't brand law breakers as offenders' call

People who break the law should no longer be branded offenders, a leading criminal justice campaigner said.

Frances Crook, head of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the "insulting" term demeans individuals and hinders their rehabilitation.

Writing in Criminal Justice Matters, she said it has been "easy" for politicians to treat some sections of society as "other" and less than human.

She said: "Someone who commits an offence is not an offender, they are someone who has done something. The action does not define the whole person.

"They may also do good things and they will certainly fit into other categories that can offer a different definition like parent or friend.

"By insisting that the offence overcomes all other parts of the person we are condemning them to a sub-human category for whom there is no hope."

Earlier this year the UK

Drugs Policy Commission said stigmatising words such as "junkie" are a big obstacle to recovery for drug users.

Researchers found the extreme prejudice linked to addiction prevents drug users from recovering and rejoining society.