Winning the war on youth crime in Hartlepool

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NEW figures reveal Hartlepool is winning the battle against youth crime with the number of offences and first time offenders slashed over the last six years.

Hartlepool’s Youth Offending Service has revealed in 2011-12 the service dealt with a total of 185 young offenders who committed 375 offences, with more than two thirds of those male.

Crime:Latest news.

Crime:Latest news.

That is a 21.6 per cent reduction in offenders and 23.8 per cent reduction in offences compared to the previous year.

But the number of proven offences has been slashed from 952 in 2006-07 to 374 in 2011-12, a reduction of 44 per cent, while the number of first time entrants has seen a staggering 56 per cent drop from a high of 297 in 2006, to 70 in 2012.

The number of youngsters in custody has also dropped from 18 to just four last year.

Mayor Stuart Drummond put the drop down to “hard work” across several organisations and he believes the introduction of neighbourhood policing and more activities to keep youngsters entertained has helped cut the number of offenders.

The multi-agency service includes social services, probation service, police, primary care trust and community services and it aims to prevent offending and re-offending and reduce custody among children aged between 10 and 17.

There has been reductions across a range of offences, including theft, burglary, violence and arson, over the past six years.

The service has also seen a one stop shop to provide help and support for young offenders in a “non-stigmatising” setting and there has been a “steady increase” in young people involved in direct reparation work to the victim through restorative justice.

Mayor Drummond said: “Youth offending, particularly first time entrants, is an area where there has been a lot of focus and there have been several schemes and ideas to try and reduce the figures.

“That work has clearly helped make a difference and the figures are really pleasing.

“It is down to a lot of hard work across several agencies and the staff deserve credit for that.”

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee is due to meet on Wednesday, May 1, to ratify the Youth Justice Plan for 2013 – 2014 before it goes before full council for approval.

Priorities include reducing further reoffending, maintaining the reduction of first time entrants to the youth justice system and ensuring there is “effective arrangements” to manage vulnerable youngsters.

A report said: “In recent years Hartlepool has witnessed a significant reduction in youth crime.

“The local youth justice partnership has been particularly effective in reducing the numbers of young people entering the youth justice system for the first time and we are now starting to see a reduction in the rate of crime being committed by those young people who have previously offended.”

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Officers have been involved in diversionary work over a number of years to ensure that young people are led away from going down the path leading to the Criminal Justice System.

“Cleveland Police will continue to work with partner agencies in Hartlepool to divert young people from crime and anti-social behaviour and reduce reoffending.”

The cabinet committee will meet at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, at 10am.