High costs of youth crime

PUBLISHED: 10:24 08 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:35 30 June 2010

Youth crime costs Norfolk almost £50m a year, according to a new report to go before councillors, who are keen to cut the number of young offenders in the county.

Youth crime costs Norfolk almost £50m a year, according to a new report to go before councillors, who are keen to cut the number of young offenders in the county.

The estimate includes costs such as insurance, damage to property, how much the health service pays treating crime victims and criminal justice costs.

It is made in a report which will go before members of Norfolk County Council's cabinet scrutiny committee tomorrow.

The report also states that it is possible to predict by the age of 10, and in some cases as early as the age of five, whether a child will go on to become a career criminal - highlighting how vital early intervention is to keep youngsters on the straight and narrow.

While the numbers of young people entering the youth justice system for the first time and the numbers of those reoffending are both falling, county councillors have asked for a discussion and debate about whether more can be done by County Hall to tackle the situation.

The number of young people in Norfolk entering the youth justice system for the first time saw 539 fewer young people in 2008/09 compared with 2007/08 - a reduction of 32.7pc and a bigger drop than the national and regional average.

The number of young people reoffending has also shown an improvement, with the latest 2009 data showing a reduction of 11.7pc when compared to 2005 data.

But the council is struggling to get young offenders to complete 25 hours a week education, at least 16 hours a week training or to hold down jobs.

In the period April to September 2009, only 55pc of the young people met those targets - worse than the national and regional averages of 74pc and 67pc.

Paul Morse, who chairs the committee, said: “Rising successfully to the challenge of tackling youth crime is of paramount importance to our county because the stakes are so high.

“While it is clear there is a lot of excellent work going on and that youth crime is falling, we cannot ever afford to be complacent about our efforts to steer young people from a life of crime.

“In these tough times when the economy is clearly depressed, I am particularly concerned that the numbers of young offenders not engaged in education, training or work are above the national average.”

The meeting will hear about the work carried out by the county's Youth Offending Team, where representatives from the police, probation, children services, health, education, drugs and alcohol misuse services and others all work together to make Norfolk safer and help young people achieve their full potential in life.

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