Fall in youth crime is hailed

SENIOR councillors have praised officers for their efforts in tackling youth crime in Hartlepool.

Latest figures reveal the number of offences committed by 10 to 17-year-olds and the number of first-time offenders have been slashed over the past six years.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee, chaired by Mayor Stuart Drummond, met for the final time earlier this week ahead of the change to the committee system.

A report to the meeting revealed in 2011-12 the Youth Offending Service dealt with a total of 185 young offenders who committed 374 offences, with more than two thirds of those being male.

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

The multi-agency Youth Offending Service includes social services, probation service, police, primary care trust and community services.

It aims to prevent offending and re-offending and reduce custody among children.

Figures also reveal the number of proven offences has been slashed from 952 in 2006-07 to 374 in 2011-12, while the number of first time entrants has seen a staggering drop from a high of 297 in 2006, to 70 in 2012.

The report was presented by Sally Robinson, the council’s assistant director of prevention, safeguarding and specialist services, who was praised by independent councillor Cath Hill.

Coun Hill said the figures painted a “very good picture” adding: “I think that it might be a good time for us to record the debt that we owe to the assistant director who has played a big part in turning that service around since it came under her remit three years ago.

“It was not a great picture then and it is now.

“Thanks to Sally and everybody that has been involved.”

Mayor Drummond, speaking at his last cabinet committee meeting, added: “There has been a tremendous turn around, especially in the number of first-time offenders.

“Hats off to every one that has had an influence on that.”

Independent councillor John Lauderdale also welcomed the latest set of figures.

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

Cabinet members agreed to ratify the Youth Justice Plan for 2013–2014, which will now go before full council for approval.

Priorities for the next 12-months include reducing further re-offending, maintaining the reduction of first-time entrants to the youth justice system and ensuring there is “effective arrangements” to manage vulnerable youngsters.