24/11/2003

PSNI launch youth crime initiative

The PSNI have launched a new initiative aimed at tackling youth crime in Northern Ireland.

The aim of the scheme will be to provide an effective response to children and young people who are offending, at risk of offending or involved in anti social behaviour.

The initiative comes as figures show that between April and September 2003 almost 12,000 young people were referred to Police Youth Diversion Officers. 6,378 potential offenders were given warnings, 1,556 young people were given official cautions and 671 offenders were prosecuted.

Over 3,500 cases are still awaiting decision with many of the cases relating to theft, criminal damage (damage to property) and public order offences.

Commenting on the initiative, Superintendent Bobby Hunniford, Community Safety Unit, said: “In a recent report one of the public’s biggest concerns was underage drinking. This is just one example of anti social behaviour in which children and young people can become involved and its one that we can address through this new framework being launched today.

"If a child or a young person is offending or is involved in anti social behaviour it can very often lead to further offending. It is our job to prevent this and through the development of the Youth Diversion Scheme, we very much hope that we will do exactly that."

Around 47 Youth Diversion Officers across Northern Ireland and 28 Criminal Justice Managers will be involved in delivering the scheme.

These officers will liaise with parents, Restorative Conference facilitators, victims, Social Services, Educational Welfare, Probation Service and Youth Justice Agency representatives.

(MB)

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