Headlines: July 12th, 2006

Local authorities in Scotland have stressed their commitment to reducing offending by young people in spite of new figures that show the number of persistent young offenders has gone up. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said councils were working hard to identify and help young people in need and to stop them offendingCOSLA’s Social Work and Health Improvement spokesman Councillor Eric Jackson said the fact that the Scottish Executive’s target on youth offending had not been met was disappointing but added, “We are in this for the long term, and as anyone who has worked day in day out with young people, as councils have, will know that it often takes a long time to overcome young offenders complex, and deep seated problems.”

Councillor Jackson said the Scottish Executive and local government had a duty not to let down any young person or community and both sides needed to redouble their efforts to reduce offending. He said statistics could be used to support just about any argument and while persistent offender referrals were up, the figures also showed that on average the number of referrals per offender was down. “This shows that once a persistent offender has been identified, councils are successful in reducing offending,” said Councillor Jackson.

The complexity of the issues involved meant that relying on raw numbers only would never adequately demonstrate the dedication and challenges faced by staff on the ground, but he believed that in the long term local authorities would be able to cut both the number of persistent offenders and the number of offences committed. He added, “Councils remain determined to work with the Scottish Executive to ensure that we achieve our joint aim reducing youth offending