Headlines: October 25th, 2002

Local authorities, social services departments and schools must all play their part in combating youth crime and the anti-social behaviour of young gangs according to the Home Office Minister, John Denham. He called for an end to inward looking attitudes that were standing in the way of progress.Speaking to a group of senior police officers, Mr. Denham said dealing with problems such as gangs of youths hanging around in public places was not just a matter for them.

“If there is one type of behaviour, one type of action that does more to undermine public confidence and more to raise the fear of crime out of all proportion to the reality it is youth nuisance, ” he said.

” Be in no doubt that unless we can, together, get on top of this issue, all the progress we make on other categories of crime will not count with the public. We have to sweep aside the inward looking professional attitudes that strand in the way of progress. Too many agencies abstain when it comes to tackling youth nuisance.,” he added.

Schools, social services departments and councils all needed to be involved, the minister said, and he would make it a priority to ensure it was not just the police who were expected to respond. “Ninety percent of Crime Disorder Reduction Partnerships now have an anti-social behaviour co-ordinator but the extent to which they are supported by real commitment from across their own local authority, never mind other agencies, varies enormously, ” he added.

Mr. Denham, who was speaking at the Association of Chief Police Oficers Youth Conference, outlined a package of measures to support front-line workers, including more guidance to ensure Final Warnings are used more consistently across the country. He cited Devon where the use of interventions in Final Warnings has led to a 22 percent drop in youth crime between June and September this year.