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£100 million triple track approach to tackling Youth Crime

£100 million triple track approach to tackling Youth Crime

HOME OFFICE News Release (132/2008) issued by The Government News Network on 15 July 2008

Getting young people off the streets late at night, intensive support for the most problematic families and tougher, more visible Community Payback sentences for young people were announced today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Justice Secretary Jack Straw and Children's Secretary Ed Balls as they unveiled the Government's new Youth Crime Action Plan.

Over the past decade significant resources have been invested in tackling youth offending and improving outcomes for young people. This has delivered:

* A 17.4 percent fall in the number of re-offences committed between 2000 and 2005;

* Almost 3000 Sure Start Centres providing access to services for over 2.27 million young people and their families have been established across the country;

* The average time from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders has been halved from 142 days in 1997 to 58 days in April this year, ensuring swifter justice for more young people and their victims.

Overall youth crime remains stable but challenges remain particularly around alcohol-related crime, delinquent peer groups and gangs and young people carrying knives. Each year around 100,000 young people aged 10 -17 enter the criminal justice system for the first time. The new Action Plan aims to reduce this rate by one fifth by 2020 and in turn to substantially reduce the number of young victims.

The £100 million Youth Crime Action Plan sets out a comprehensive package of tough enforcement and intensive prevention measures as well as more support for parents to tackle offending and reduce re-offending.

It will support families with the most entrenched and complex problems in all areas of England and will also offer an intensive programme of action for priority areas where the problem of youth crime is greatest.

The range of measures announced today includes:

Better prevention and support for victims

* An expansion of the successful Family Intervention Projects to 20,000 families. In all 110,000 families with children at risk of future high-rate offending will be reached through additional support which will ensure that problems are tackled early before difficulties spiral out of control;

* Increasing the proportion of ASBOs accompanied by a parenting order;

* Expanding Safer Schools Partnerships;

* Expanding provision of youth centres and other activities at times when young people are likely to offend, including Friday and Saturday nights;

* Making permanent exclusion from school an automatic trigger to a comprehensive assessment of needs;

* Expansion of Family Nurse Partnerships; and,

* Innovative ways to support young victims and improving support to witnesses when they attend court.

Tough enforcement

* Using safeguarding legislation to remove at-risk children and young people from the streets late at night[0] (Operation Staysafe);

* Greater use of existing police enforcement tactics, including measures to tackle anti-social behaviour and underage drinking;

* New police enforcement tactics to ensure visible patrols during after-school hours; and,

* Street-based teams of youth workers and ex-gang members to tackle groups of young people involved in crime and disorder.

More visible and effective sentencing

* Better cross agency coordination to identify and target prolific offenders;

* Giving the community the opportunity to say what type of reparation work they want young people on community sentences to undertake, and making them feel the consequences of their actions by requiring them to undertake this work on Friday and Saturday nights;

* Piloting court reviews of high-risk young offenders on community sentences; and,

* Setting out for the first time principles for the use of custody for young people, which uphold custody as the appropriate response for serious, violent or persistent young offenders to ensure public protection.

Reducing re-offending

* A new duty on local authorities to fund and commission education of young offenders in custody;

* Developing a more comprehensive package of support for young people leaving custody; and,

* Ensure access to suitable accommodation and health services for all young offenders leaving custody.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

"We know that the vast majority of young people recognise right from wrong and make a positive contribution to our society. There are a minority however who persist in anti-social behaviour and some in more serious criminal activity.

"Youth Crime can have a devastating effect on victims and communities and must be tackled head-on. Today I want to send the message to perpetrators that their actions are unacceptable. They must understand the consequences their behaviour has not only on victims and communities but on their families and their futures.

"Increasingly we are able to identify these young people early and intervene to address the root causes of their behaviour, including supporting and challenging their parents in meeting their responsibilities.

"But I want to call on parents to play their part. Tough enforcement and policing is only one part of the solution. The new action we are launching today gives equal weight to the triple-track approach of intensive prevention, tough enforcement and support for parents.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said:

"For that small minority of out of control young people custody is the answer. The crimes they have committed are so serious that there can be no other way of dealing with them. If they deserve to be inside, they will go there.

"One aim of the new Action Plan is to divert young people away from crime, so that they are not unnecessarily drawn into the criminal justice system.

"The Plan will ensure that those at risk of offending are identified as quickly as possible and, along with their families, are given appropriate levels of support to tackle the cause of their behaviour.

"Tough community sentences, the new Youth Rehabilitation Order and, where necessary custodial sentences will force young people to face up to the suffering they have caused and ensure that they do not go unpunished, but the Plan also sets out how better resettlement will help reform these young people and get their lives back on track."

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said:

"The vast majority of young people are not involved in crime but we must to be tough on the few young people who are and reduce the harm they cause. It's also vital we prevent those who are at risk from getting into this type of behaviour in the first place. This is not a simple choice between enforcement, non-negotiable support or prevention. We need all of those things to work together both at a national level and locally through Children's Trusts if we are to have a real impact on youth crime.

"By targeting families and spotting the problems where children and young people are getting out of control we can intervene and transform their lives - providing them with a real opportunity to fulfil their potential. Today's announcement to expand Family Intervention Projects means more families will get a key worker to help them manage their problems and provide them with both the support and sanctions to motivate them to change their behaviour.

"We said in the Children's Plan that we would work together with mainstream services to prevent youth crime, deal swiftly with those involved in youth crime and work to prevent re-offending. Today this action plan does just that."


1. The Youth Crime Action Plan can be found at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/news/youth-crime-action-plan

2. We will work closely with the Welsh Government to implement those aspects of the Action Plan which apply both in England and Wales, including those policies which cover sentencing and police led initiatives, pilots for increased support for victims; youth offending team workers being available in police stations to identify problems early; and police officers taking young people who are putting themselves in danger to a place of safety.

3. The Family Intervention Project evaluation was published on 10 July 2008 and reported on the early outcomes for 90 families. The study found that the projects:

* Halved the proportion of families reported to exhibit poor parenting (60 percent to 32 percent);

* Reduced the number of families engaged in four or more types of anti-social behaviour from 61 to 7 percent;

* Halved the number of families facing one or more enforcement action such as Acceptable Behaviour Contracts from 45 - 23 percent.

4. The Family Intervention Project model, launched nationally in 2006 involves a dedicated key worker who is assigned to a family to assess their needs, develop a support plan and co-ordinate the delivery of services. Persistence and assertive working methods as well as the possibility of sanctions, are critical to keeping families engaged and following agreed steps. There are now 65 FIPs across the country.

5. The Offending, Crime and Justice Survey Youth Offending Survey 2006 can be found at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb0908.pdf

6. The findings from the 2006 OCJS show that the majority of young people are law-abiding. The survey is based on interviews with 5000 10 - 17 year olds about their experiences of crime, not recorded crime or court data. Over three-quarters (78%) had not committed any of the 20 core offences covered by the survey.

The 20 core offences are:

* domestic burglary;
* commercial burglary.
* theft of a vehicle;
* theft of parts off outside of a vehicle;
* theft of items inside a vehicle;
* attempted theft of a vehicle;
* attempted theft from a vehicle.
* theft from place of work;
* theft from school;
* theft from shop;
* theft from the person;
* miscellaneous thefts.
* damage to a vehicle;
* damage to other property.
* robbery of an individual;
* robbery of a business.
* assault resulting in injury;
* non-injury assault
* selling Class A drugs;
* selling other drugs