Memorandum submitted by the Children's Society
I am very sorry that we must pull out of the oral hearing on 10 June it is due to serious resource problems we currently face.
Briefly, we want to support the evidence put forward by Rachel Lampard for three reasons:
1. The Children's Society runs some 30 anti-poverty and participation projects in England, including in some of the seaside towns (Bournemouth, Torbay and Margate). We regularly survey children and families about changes they see as desirable. There is remarkable consistency in what they say.
Small children raise the state of the physical neighbourhood.
Older children prioritise bullying, racism and drugs.
Parents raise childcare and the state of the public services.
No-one has ever suggested to us that more gambling facilities are the route forward. Indeed, it is likely that the problems felt by people living in these communities and the issues we work on with them such as crimes, homelessness and prostitution could be exacerbated by an influx of gambling facilities.
2. Children's capacity to resist the pressures of gambling are less than those of adults. They need special protection. We see a parallel here with the arguments against television advertising to children. Until they are 12, most children are not capable of making comparable judgements to those of adults, and we believe that the proposal on machines which "only cost 10p for a £5 prize" are inappropriate because of the habit children will develop.
3. We are concerned at the impact on children in families where adults develop problem gambling patterns. I understand this has been documented in Australia, but have not been able to follow this up. Perhaps it is something the Committee could pursue?
30 May 2002