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Voluntary Service Unit

Volume 885: debated on Thursday 6 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the allocation of grants by the Voluntary Service Unit.

Yes, Sir. All grants made by the Voluntary Services Unit are approved by Home Office Ministers.

Is the Minister aware that this body has lately awarded the sum of £20,000 to an organisation known as "Release"? Would he care to comment on the unwholesome paradox of his Department, which is responsible for the police, at the same time subsidising an organisation many of whose staff have criminal records, which is largely devoted to advising criminals of their rights and helping them frame counter-charges and petitions against the police? Would he not agree that this can only add to the bewilderment and sense of frustration felt by ordinary, law-abiding people who see the way in which criminals have this inverted standard applied to them, whereby they are seemingly exalted and subsidised at the expense of law-abiding people?

"Release" does an enormous amount of good work among people who are in many ways cut off from the rest of society. It may be that it is able to do so precisely because some of the people are the kind of people the hon. Gentleman has described. The money which has been given by the VSU has gone to that part of "Release" which is separately organised, which is a charitable trust and which does a good deal of work by providing comprehensive advisory services for people between the ages of 18 and 24 who are otherwise alienated from society.