Multi agency approach to tackle youth crime in area

Plans are now in place to adopt a new approach to tackling youth offending in the region following a successful pilot scheme further north.

The scheme, known as the Whole System Approach (WSA), aims to hold young people to account for their behaviour and stop them following the wrong path into a life of crime and both Scottish Borders Council and Lothian and Borders Police say they are committed to making it work for the Borders.

The WSA, which sees police, courts, education and social services work together to address minor offending behaviour before it becomes a major problem, was piloted in Aberdeen and a final report into it showed a marked improvement in youth offending with youth crime in the city down 20 per cent between 2008-9 and last year.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has announced that as well as being rolled out across Scotland, the approach will also be used to also help reverse the rise in female offending, which has doubled in the last decade.

And a spokesperson for SBC said that a review had already taken place involving themselves and a host of other local agencies to identify any problem areas and put a plan of action together to combat them.

They commented: “Following the roll out of the WSA across Scotland a number of agencies (the Police, Social Work, the Reporter’s Office and the Procurator Fiscal) undertook a review of services that were delivered to young people who offend in the Borders.

“We were able to identify where there were gaps and a multi agency plan to address these is currently being developed. The review also identified where services were being delivered in line with the principles contained within the Whole System Approach.

“All relevant agencies are actively involved in this process and we are seeking short term additional funding to help all services manage any changes required.

“In the Borders specialist services delivered to women offenders are designed to be holistic and are delivered in partnership with Social Work Services, the third sector agencies and NHS Borders using a framework developed to ensure the effectiveness of services to women offenders.”

Kenny MacAskill told a press conference earlier this week that cutting youth crime was “a key priority” for the Scottish Government and Paul Green, Police Juvenile Liaison Officer for the Borders said Lothian and Borders Police remained focussed on the same goal having seen youth offending in the region halved in recent years.

He commented: “It has long been a priority of Lothian and Borders Police to tackle anti-social behaviour, reduce crime and prevent re-offending amongst the youth of the Scottish Borders.

“Working along side our partner agencies we have managed to develop and implement alternative measures and disposals when dealing with young offenders. This early and effective intervention has seen a 50% reduction in juvenile offending over the last few years and has significantly reduced the volume of reports being sent to SCRA (Scottish Children’s Reporter Administrator).

“The introduction of the WSA will hopefully be similar in principle to the work currently being carried out in dealing with offenders in the 16-17 year old age group.”