Youth crime decrease

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FEWER youths are entering the justice system for the first time in Wigan.

A quarterly report by Wigan Council reveals that from April to June, (quarter one) the number of youngsters who are committing crimes for the first time is significant lower than the North West and national average, with just 31 new offenders in the borough.

Meanwhile, in the same report, but looking at quarter two (July to September), the rate of reoffending in the borough is 0.2 per 100,000 of the entire Wigan population, which equates to 200 youngsters, whilst the North West average is 1.19 and the national figure is 1.08.

Wigan Council’s YOT, which is one of the leading organisations in the country in terms of being committed to the principals of early intervention and prevention and restorative justice, lays its achievements on numerous initiatives,

Teams have participated in Pathfinder projects, in partnership with Greater Manchester Police and this has lead to the development of the national Restorative Justice Disposal.

Wigan is one of the only YOTS to offer voluntary intervention to young people subject to all Out of Court Disposals and the council was highlighted nationally as having best practice in this area. The organisation facilitates reparation projects that are visible to the community and that enable young people to learn skills that will help them in the future.

It offers a service to victims of crime and promotes restorative face to face meetings that create opportunities for victims to tell young people how they were affected and to allow young people the opportunity to learn from the experience, apologise or make good for their actions.

The Wigan YOT also delivers initiatives such as Operation Staysafe, working in partnership with the police late into the evening to identify young people who are consuming alcohol, to ensure they are appropriately safeguarded, and to offer additional voluntary support to address the issues associated with young people and alcohol use.

Sue Astbury, head of service early intervention and prevention, said: “The teams involved in working with young people are very committed to making a difference for the young people and the communities they live in. We are currently progressing a restructure of our Early Intervention and Prevention Services with the creation of Locality Gateway Teams and a Boroughwide Restorative Solutions Team to expand the preventative services available to young people and increase the restorative interventions for victims, local communities and young people.

“The team has invested a lot time in police training on restorative justice and we share an excellent working relationship with them, and a number of other partner agencies, and as such we receive direct referrals for voluntary support and intervention in order to tackle young peoples behaviour before it becomes a significant issue. “We firmly believe that prevention is better than cure.

“We have highly skilled and trained restorative justice practitioners who are linked with Schools and who offer additional support to vulnerable groups.

“We work hard at identifying young people at risk of offending behaviour or anti-social behaviour and offer early intervention.”