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Youth behaviour crackdown widened

PUBLISHED: 13:49 27 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

A PILOT scheme targeting nuisance youngsters in Ipswich has been extended by the town's police force to alert parents to those children coming to officers' notice once too often.

A PILOT scheme targeting nuisance youngsters in Ipswich has been extended by the town's police force to alert parents to those children coming to officers' notice once too often.

In the first three months of the initiative to crack down on anti-social behaviour by under-18s, 83 letters were sent to parents by police under the Youth Nuisance Register scheme – which lists the names and addresses of youngsters spoken to by officers.

The scheme has now been extended by another three months along with similar pilots in the west and east of the county with a view to creating a force-wide approach to combating youth nuisance.

Under the Ipswich pilot register, the first time a child is spoken to about their behaviour the youngster's parents get a letter outlining the circumstances. If a child comes to notice for similar behaviour a second time, parents get a home visit from a community beat officer (CBO).

Inspector Peter Haystead, who launched the Ipswich register earlier this year, said that eight of the 83 children spoken to had come to officers' attention more than once and had a home visit from a CBO since April.

Two youngsters had been spoken to on three occasions but were already being dealt with through the courts so no further action was taken in terms of involving other agencies such as the borough council or youth offending team to address their recurrent behaviour.

Inspector Haystead said most of those on the register were boys, with an average age of 13. A few girls had also come to officers' attention as a result of anti-social behaviour as well as a small number

of children under ten-years-old.

"They are young people from all over the borough and six came from towns other than Ipswich," Inspector Haystead said.

Many of those spoken to came from south east Ipswich but this could be due to targeted patrols, such as Operation Belsize, specifically aimed at increasing police presence and tackling anti-social behaviour in the area, he said.

Types of nuisance behaviour noted ranged from windows being sprayed with hairspray to cycling on the pavement, and from youngsters throwing stones near cars to children climbing on a car port, he explained.

The scheme is aimed at alerting parents to what their children are up to rather than criminalising youngsters whose behaviour is likely to be on the fringe of criminality.

Inspector Haystead said the pilot schemes running around Suffolk would be evaluated by Chief Inspector Mark Cordell, responsible for community safety in the county, with a view to either adopting a Suffolk-wide scheme or running different schemes in rural and urban areas as circumstances demanded.

Nuisance behaviour around Ipswich had decreased in recent months, he said, but added that this could not be put down just to the register but to other initiatives by the borough council and police. "A lot of people have been doing a lot of work," he said. "Because we've been able to get more police out, we've also been able to speak to more youngsters."

Parents had, in general, welcomed the register, Inspector Haystead added.

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