Clampdown launched as more than half of young criminals go on to reoffend in Hartlepool
Council chiefs are looking at steps to reduce reoffending among young people to help provide them with the best start in life.
It came as Hartlepool Borough Council Audit and Governance Committee discussed what they wanted the Youth Justice Strategic Plan to look like for 2019-2021.
Hartlepool Youth Justice Service was established in 2000, made up of representatives from council children’s services, police, probation, health and education.
The system exists to try and ensure children and young people between the age of 10 and 17 do not engage in offending or reoffending, and if they do, are dealt with appropriately.
The most recent data for the Hartlepool Youth Justice Service, focusing on a cohort of young people who committed offences between April to June 2017, showed of the 26 young people involved, 14 reoffended, committing 35 offences between them.
This meant there was a 53.8% reoffending rate, although council officers stressed how it was dealing with a small number of young people.
Sally Robinson, council director of children’s and commissioning services, said the aims of the Youth Justice Plan include reducing reoffending in the town.
She added overall objectives also include trying to ensure every child has the ‘opportunity to live a safe, crime-free life and make a positive contribution to society’.
She said: “Reoffending is our priority and has been for a number of years.
“We have been very successful in reducing the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system, which means we have a small cohort of young people who are receiving the supporting service, we are talking about a low number of young people.
“What we also know is that although we have a high reoffending rate, we don’t actually have a high number of multiple offences.”
Councillors stressed the importance of providing support to young people to prevent them from falling into crimes such as drug-related offences.
Coun Marjorie James said: “One of the issues in Hartlepool in particular is the the attraction of young children into criminality through drugs.
“Once they’re in the system, it’s very hard to break out, and the impact of things like the privatisation of probation services, the reductions in youth services for our young people, are all having an impact.
“Kids are on the streets instead of being in organised groups and therefore they are vulnerable to that adult intervention that draws them into those criminal activities.”
Council officers added there are a number of arrangements in place to help to try and safeguard young people from these risks.
These include greater levels of supported intervention for young people and aims to offer better treatment programmes and preventative support programmes.
The final Youth Justice Plan will go to Full Council in February next year to be formally approved.