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(Glasgow) Prevention and intervention programmes see 'significant fall' in violent youth crime

3rd February 2011

There has been a significant fall in the number of serious violent crimes committed by young people in Glasgow, according to the Annual Report of the Youth Justice Service.

The report shows the number of attempted murders, serious assaults and robberies carried out by under-18s fell by 22%; overall, the number of offences carried out by young people dropped 7% in 2010.

This drop has been attributed to the development of comprehensive and coordinated support programmes which address the complex issues often found at the root of offending behaviour. Based on the best available research from across the world, programmes include Intensive Support and Monitoring (ISMS), Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and Multi-Systemic Therapy:

Early & Effective Intervention Groups, which see young people directed towards appropriate programmes within one to two weeks of offending, has been rolled out; a closer study on the transition from Children’s Hearings to adult courts is also being carried out to ensure support services remain in place for young adults.

The Intensive Support and Monitoring Service, which can involve the use of an electronic tag, is now used as an alternative to remand and continues to reduce among offending behaviour among young people on the programme. Between Sept 2009 and April 2010, involvement in the  ‘ISMS: Alternative to Remand’ led  to a 46% reduction in offending behaviour among 30 offenders.

Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST), which looks at a young person in the context of their family, peers, school and community, has also successfully reduced offending among eighteen individuals by 39% over the course of six months.

The Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service contributed to the care plans of 80 young people engaged with youth justice services in 2009/10.

The report found that most young people who offend move on from criminal activity with the assistance of a wide range of diversionary and support services available through youth justice partners.

The Youth Justice Strategy Group, which is made up of representatives from the city council’s education and social work services, health, police, the Children’s Reporter and the Procurator Fiscal among others, deliver these services.

Sean McKendrick, head of the city’s criminal justice department, cited the integrated approach in delivering services for young people as one of the reasons for this success: 

"There is a whole range of offending behaviour that exists - some of it very small, relatively minor, that only requires limited intervention. However, there are other younger people who are also involved in offending that causes communities significant concern, and it's these individuals that will receive intensive, intricate care plan supports."

Donna Straton, team leader for intensive support and monitoring within youth justice, spoke about young men who are heavily involved with gang violence, some from pro-criminal families, making it difficult to escape the cycle: "We’re able to work with them to help them get out of this. All the youth justice services and our partner agencies are able to offer both young men and women a way out.”

Councillor Matt Kerr, executive member for social care, referred to programmes that are "tried, tested and found to be effective" in making a big difference to a very important issue.

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