Youth crime under the spotlight

POLICE across Suffolk are today launching a countywide project to target young troublemakers who persistently cause a nuisance to the community.The Youth Nuisance Register, which has been successfully piloted in Ipswich, will record the names of youngsters throughout the county who get in trouble with police after behaving anti-socially.

POLICE across Suffolk are today launching a countywide project to target young troublemakers who persistently cause a nuisance to the community.

The Youth Nuisance Register, which has been successfully piloted in Ipswich, will record the names of youngsters throughout the county who get in trouble with police after behaving anti-socially.

The project comes weeks after Suffolk's Crown Prosecution Service revealed the number of children being brought before the courts in the county has soared by 14 per cent in just 12 months.

The new scheme will involve sending letters home to parents of unruly children to advise them on ways of curbing their child's behaviour.


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If the anti-social behaviour continues, a further letter will be sent home before police call upon the help of the Youth Offending Service to tackle the problem.

During the past year, police in Ipswich sent 300 letters home to parents after their children were involved in incidents of anti-social behaviour.

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Of this number, just 12 further letters needed to be sent out, with only nine of these families needing to be visited by a member of the Youth Offending Service to try and identify the problem.

Chief Inspector Mark Cordell said: "Unruly antisocial behaviour by a few young people causes a lot of misery and gives young people generally a reputation that most of them do not deserve," he said.

"What we are doing is making parents aware of their children's behaviour and together with our colleagues in other agencies we are offering support and advice to all of them at a very early stage to avoid the escalation of their behaviour.

"Our research nationally shows to change a young person's behaviour, it's so much more likely to be successful before they enter the criminal justice system.

"If we leave intervention until they come before magistrates' courts it's probably too late."

Youngsters who misbehave will be signed up to the Youth Nuisance Register for a period of six months.

If they continue to get into trouble, they will be re-registered for a further six months. However, if they behave well, their names will be removed.

The project will not create extra paperwork for police officers because letters will be written by administrative staff.

Youth court cases in the county rose from 1,442 in 2000-2001 to 1,639 in 2001-2002, and prosecutions against juveniles accounted for 12pc of the CPS' total caseload in the county's magistrates' courts last year.

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