Youth scheme starts today

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AN EFFECTIVE method for working with high risk young people was launched today (Monday).

The Whole System Approach was inaugurated at Bruce House, Arbroath, and is aimed at bringing the small minority of 16 and 17-year-olds involved in serious offending into successfully proven Youth Justice processes.

In 2009, Angus saw a drop in youth crime of 35 per cent from the previous year. This was followed by a further reduction in 2010 of 12 per cent.

This approach involves establishing streamlined and consistent planning, assessment and decision making processes for young people who offend, ensuring they receive the right help at the right time.

The ethos of the whole system approach suggests that many young people should be diverted from statutory measures, prosecution and custody through early intervention and robust community alternatives.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “We want our young people to have the best chances in life.

“We know that some of them fall through the cracks and our Whole System Approach aims to nip early offending in the bud before it becomes a problem later.

“Young people must be held to account, but in a way that is appropriate to their individual circumstances.”

The system has already been trialled in Aberdeen where it saw a 10 per cent reduction in youth crime, and the Arbroath launch forms an important part of the rolling-out campaign.

Angus divisional commander Chief Superintendent Kevin Lynch said: “I think we would all accept that we have all made mistakes early on in the journey of life and the Whole Systems Approach acknowledges this through the provision of enhanced understanding and support to young people, many of which have many challenges presented to them when they are 16 or 17.

“This approach allows all agencies to better support them through this time by encouraging positive behaviours and a sense of civic and community responsibility and has the potential to enhance their positive contribution to their local community.”

George Bowie, service manager, Angus Council’s Social Work Department, said: “We look forward to working with our partners to build on the existing youth justice strategy in Angus so that tried and tested methods previously applied to the under-16s can be applied successfully to this slightly older group.”

The Whole System Approach was produced in partnership with local authorities, the Association of Directors of Social Work, Scottish Court Service, Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration, Scottish Prison Service, Crown Office, Procurator Fiscal Service, Association of Chief Police Officers, and other key partners.