Scottish Government pledges £1.6m to prevent young people being drawn into crime

Written by Jenni Davidson on 17 August 2018 in News

£800,000 per year will be put into extending the whole system approach to preventing youth offending

Youth justice image - Image credit: Holyrood

The Scottish Government has pledged an extra £1.6m to prevent young people being drawn into crime.

The funding will be given to councils over the next two years to strengthen youth justice services, including extending some of these up to the age of 21, and up to 26 for care-experienced young people.

Young people at risk of becoming drawn into serious offending will receive more co-ordinated support and early intervention using the ‘whole system approach’.

The whole system approach involves partners from across education, social work, police and the third sector working together to intervene early and prevent offending.

This approach to youth justice has contributed to an 82 per cent reduction in children being referred to the children’s reporter on offence grounds since 2006-7 and a 78 per cent fall in the number of under 18-year-olds being prosecuted in courts during the same period.

The number of young people in custody has reduced by 66 per cent over the past decade.

However, some practitioners have raised concerns that if funding and specialist skills are not maintained, these gains may start to reverse.

An extra £800,000 per year in 2018/19 and 2019/20 will now be put into re-energising and extending the whole system approach.

The priorities for this will be improving support for children up to the age of 18 and extending support up to 21, where appropriate, and up to 26 for care-experienced young people. 

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf made the announcement after meeting social workers, police and Crown Office staff in West Lothian.

He said: "Preventing offending is integral to creating safer communities, and in order to do that a range of public services need to work together, targeting tailored support where it is needed most to safeguard the vulnerable and keep all of Scotland's communities safe.  

“I've heard directly from youth justice practitioners how successful early intervention can be, and how organisations coming together can have a huge impact on the lives of young people who are at risk.

"This extra funding will enable local authorities to extend support to young people up to the age of 26 in some cases.  

“I'm very clear that the success of the past decade is no cause for complacency but rather it motivates us all to build on that progress and ensure no individual or community is left behind.

“By enhancing the capacity of local authorities to work with partners, we can safeguard and strengthen the integrated approach to help keep crime down and communities safe."

Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA spokesperson for children and young people, said: "Local authorities working closely with the Scottish Government and local partners have made a very significant impact in reducing youth offending over the last decade.

"This has been shown by the reduction of young people in custody and in the court system, as well as referrals to the children's reporter. 

“That said, it is imperative these efforts are maintained and sustained to ensure the best possible outcomes for our young people, and ultimately save resources in the longer term.   

"Therefore, I welcome this additional resource from the Scottish Government over the next couple of years to build on the progress led by councils locally.”

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