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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 02:15 GMT
Police target youth criminal risk
Acpo is trying to prevent young people going down the criminal path
Young people who are believed to be at risk of becoming offenders are to be targeted in a new police initiative.

The move is part of a strategy for reducing youth crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, unveiled by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Acpo says identifying potential young offenders early on could have a dramatic impact on cutting youth crime.

Efforts include sharing information with other services and extending a police presence in some schools.

Senior officers are urging ministers to support a strategy of helping young people at risk.

'Prolific offenders'

Acpo says that many juveniles who come onto the police radar are not known to other agencies.

It is vital that we have processes in place to identify these young people early in their criminal careers
Chief Constable Roger Baker

Officers believe that if police share information with children's services then young people at risk of committing crime can be monitored and helped.

Essex Chief Constable Roger Baker, who leads on youth issues for Acpo, said: "While a small proportion of young people commit crime, some of them go on to become prolific offenders and cause great suffering and misery in our communities.

"It is vital that we have processes in place to identify these young people early in their criminal careers and develop the best youth justice practice to divert them from crime into more positive activities and lifestyles."

He said officers would "resort to the full weight of the law" for persistent offenders, and ensure young offenders were positively rehabilitated in their communities afterwards.

'Prevention emphasis'

There are also plans to extend the current Safer School Partnerships scheme where some schools have a full-time police presence.

Chief Constable Baker said the initiative had been "incredibly successful," with 500 projects being set up since 2003.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said he welcomed Acpo's strategy.

"In particular, I support the emphasis placed on prevention and engaging young people in their communities to identify and support those at risk," he said.

BBC News home affairs correspondent June Kelly said the murder of Garry Newlove by three teenagers has brought the issue of youth crime into sharp focus.

Father-of -three Mr Newlove, 47, was kicked to death outside his home in Warrington, Cheshire, when he confronted a gang in August 2007.

Earlier this week it emerged there are Home Office plans to install metal detectors at some schools in England to combat teenage knife crime.

Three convicted of Newlove murder
16 Jan 08 |  Merseyside
No 'quick fix' to end 'yob rule'
17 Jan 08 |  Merseyside
Metal detectors plan for schools
21 Jan 08 |  Education

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