An ambitious new plan to tackle the problems of crime and disorder among young people in South Tyneside has been praised by the Government.
The Youth Justice Board now intends to use parts of the new three-year youth justice plan for South Tyneside to illustrate good practice to other Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) throughout the country.
The Board's advisers were impressed by a range of measures prepared by the South Tyneside Youth Offending Team including:
- The presentation and clarity of the Summary and Plan.
- The evidence of good partnership working.
- Staff appraisals linked to Youth Justice Board performance measures.
This commendation is a further boost to work being carried out by the team set up two years ago to reduce crime by working with young people who offend or are at risk of offending. The team's aim is to tackle the factors underlying young peoples offending such as educational problems, substance misuse, lack of constructive activity and family problems. Work is also done to meet the needs of victims of youth crime, and to bring home to young people the consequences of their behaviour.
Recent statistics released by the Board show that South Tyneside YOT is one of the elite top 10 performers in the country. In the national league table for all 154 teams South Tyneside has consistently impressed with its achievements and innovative schemes to substantially cut crime and arrest rates.
It has continued to expand and develop new services such as the highly successful Parenting Programme, Mentoring Scheme and the nationally recognised Youth Inclusion Programme in Biddick Hall and Whiteleas.
A joint initiative with Gateshead and Sunderland - the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme - was one of the first schemes in the country to be established and is now recognized as a "market leader" in targeting high-risk young offenders.
Council Leader, Paul Waggott said: "The Youth Offending Team can rightly be proud of its achievements to date. It provides an excellent example of successful partnership working with the Police, the Probation Service, Health and the Council. I am very aware of the problems of youth crime and I am confident that the YOT is working very hard to reduce re-offending and get youth offenders into education, training or work."
Youth Offending Team Manager Phil Bennett says: "We are delighted with the YOT's performance, which is a testament to the hard work and commitment of all the staff. It also indicates the strength and success of the partnership between the Local Authority, Police, Probation and Health. The Youth Justice Plan for 2002-2005 will provide a sound platform for sustained progress and achievement over the next three years."
Councillor Steve Forster, Lead Member for Social Care and Health adds: "The YOT is a milestone in the fight against youth crime especially as it brings together staff from many different professional backgrounds into a single team to help the young people and divert them away from a life of crime. In the past two years the team has gone from strength to strength making steady progress on our pledge to reduce youth crime in South Tyneside."