Number of new young Wigan criminals declines

Dozens of children were convicted or cautioned for debut criminal offences in Wigan last year, figures reveal.

Friday, 12th April 2019, 11:00 am
Updated Friday, 12th April 2019, 12:09 pm
Fewer youngsters are going through the criminal justice system for the first time

But long-term trends show far fewer children are being prosecuted now, compared with a decade ago - and Wigan boasts the lowest youth offender rate in the North West.

The latest Ministry of Justice figures show 49 children fell foul of the law for the first time in the 12 months to last September: a six per cent drop on the previous year.

There are 167 children cautioned or convicted per 100,000 youngsters in the area, compared with 250 per 100,000 across the region.

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Across the country the number of children entering the criminal justice has reduced by 85 per cent in the last 10 years.

In Wigan, the number being convicted or cautioned has dropped by 90 per cent, from 477 offenders in 2008.

Just for Kids Law, a charity which helps ensure children’s legal rights are respected, said that despite the decrease, it still has concerns around youngsters entering the criminal justice system.

Chief executive Enver Solomon said: “These figures show the benefits to society which come when police and youth offending teams focus on diverting children from the criminal justice system, rather than punitive methods that do little other than funnel them into a life of crime.

“We are concerned, however, that progress could be jeopardised by knee jerk policies such as the new knife crime prevention orders, which are likely to drag a large number of children into the criminal justice system.”

He said there were still “many outstanding issues”, such as holding children in police cells for extended periods of time and poor quality legal representation. C

"Children have different needs and entitlements to adults, but too few lawyers are specialists in how to work with them, leading to missed opportunities to divert young people from the justice system.”