Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Fall in youth crimes is reported

Boy in young offenders institution
The number of crimes committed by young people in Wales has fallen

Crimes by young people dealt with by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) in Wales fell by 9% in the past year.

In 2007/08, 15,157 separate crimes were recorded, compared to 16,676 the year before, and 18,957 in 2002/03.

But the statistics also show crimes committed by girls are higher than they were five years ago.

The head of the YJB in Wales, Sue Williams, said the decrease in offences was good news for everybody in Wales, especially the 18 YJB teams.

"With our partners on the Youth Justice Committee for Wales, we are determined to sustain this positive momentum into the future," she said.

The offences covered are those leading to a "disposal", such as custodial and community sentences, and pre-court decisions.

The number of offences committed by girls last year was 3,023 - down from 3,079 the year before, but up from 2,699 in 2002/03.

The YJB works to prevent young people under the age of 18 from offending and reoffending.

It also ensures youth custody is safe and addresses the causes of the offence.

Sue Thomas, crime reduction charity Nacro's senior youth crime policy development officer in Wales, welcomed the figures, which she said were "a measure of the efforts of youth offending teams working both in a preventive capacity and with young people on statutory orders."

Ms Thomas said: "In order to sustain this trend, Nacro would like to see a greater emphasis on prevention and a reduction in the number of young people entering the youth justice system.

"We are deeply concerned that the trend in relation to girls reflects a change in the way they are dealt with police and other agencies, not a real increase in the number of girls involved in crime.

"Where girls may have been dealt with more informally, yet effectively, in the past, they are now more likely to be dealt with through the youth justice system."

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