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The Justice Secretary has hailed the success of a pilot project to tackle youth offending, which has seen a major reduction in crimes committed by young people

The system, which is being extended to local authorities across Scotland, aims to hold young people to account for their behaviour and stop them following the wrong path into a life of crime.

Police, courts, education and social services work together to address minor offending behaviour before it becomes a major problem.Kenny MacAskill said the approach may now be rolled out and used to also help reverse the rise in female offending.

It follows the Commission on Women Offenders report earlier this week setting out a series of measures to address female offending which has doubled in the last decade.

The final report into the pilot of Whole System Approach in Aberdeen shows a marked improvement in youth offending:

Youth crime down 20 percent between 2008-09 and last year

  •     Number of youths committing crime down 23 percent since 2006-07
  •     Court Proceedings against 16 and 17 year-olds fell by 37 percent
  •     48 percent reduction in offence referrals to Children’s Reporter over the last two years
  •     Children’s Hearing System working faster – taking an average of 28 days to reach a disposal decision    rather than 72 – 148 days in 2009-10

Mr MacAskill said:

“We know that the vast majority of our young people are responsible members of society, however some of them can fall through the cracks and get involved in crime or antisocial behaviour.

Cutting youth crime is a key priority for this Government and we want to nip bad behaviour in the bud now before it becomes a major problem later. Early intervention is the most effective way to do this.

The Whole System Approach tackles all aspects of youth offending - from low level crime to the most serious and harmful offences. It diverts young people from criminal behaviour by offering opportunities not obstacles, making our systems leaner and more efficient and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy.

“The pilot has been a great success and a key priority is to roll this approach out across Scotland.

We know it works and today’s statistics speak for themselves. Offending is down, crime is down, offence referrals to the Children’s Reporter have reduced by almost 50 percent and the Children’s Hearing System is working faster than ever before.

Whole systems is exactly the direction of travel we want to take on female offenders, with police, courts, education and social services working together to address all aspects of problem behaviour. This has worked with youngsters, we can make it work with women.”

Written by Scott Buckler
Friday, 20 April 2012 11:11

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