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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 06:31 GMT
Helping hand for young offenders
Youth crime
The course offers young people a way forward
Young people who persistently break the law are to be targeted in a new scheme which aims to stop them becoming hardened criminals.

The Ayrshire Crossover project promises to "take a radically new approach" to cutting youth crime in the area.

Under the scheme, persistent young offenders aged between 14 and 17 years will be offered intensive help designed to change their behaviour.

There will be a focus on training opportunities
A key part of the initiative will be a focus on finding training opportunities and work through which young people can rebuild their lives.

The council funded project will be run by national charity NCH Scotland, which has delivered similar programmes in the past.

It aims to use individual and group sessions to help the offenders explore their involvement in crime and face up to the impact on victims.

Ayrshire Crossover will also aim to provide them with strategies to control aggression and anger and to handle drugs and other problems.

Joe Connolly, the acting director of NCH Scotland, said: "What matters in tackling youth crime is being effective.

"Working with young people in the right way at the right time can prevent them from becoming hardened criminals and can create the safer communities that we all want."

Initial 'indifference'

The project, which was officially launched on Wednesday, has already been working on a pilot basis

One of its first cases involved a 15-year-old boy whose first offence was committed when he was eight years old.

Organisers said that after overcoming initial "indifference" the teenager returned home to live, started a job and has had no further involvement in reoffending.

This initial success has won support from Councillor Rita Miller, who chairs South Ayrshire Council's community services committee.

"We recognise the potential that all young people have within themselves to change directions, fulfil their potential and desist from further offending," she said.

"This programme will support and sustain that process of change."

See also:

10 Oct 00 | Scotland
Force launches youth strategy
09 Jun 00 | Scotland
Galbraith in child crime shake-up
30 Mar 00 | Scotland
Fresh approach to cut youth crime
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