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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 October, 2003, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Study focuses on young offenders
The peak age for youth offending is between 14 and 15
Ground-breaking research has revealed why some children in Scotland end up becoming persistent offenders.

The study focused on youngsters who had been referred to the Children's Panel in Glasgow.

It found that of those who had committed 10 offences or more, a large proportion had first been referred to the Children's Reporter because of fears for their safety at home.

Reasons included;

  • parental drug or alcohol abuse

  • family breakdown

  • or the risk of sexual or physical harm.

The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration report by Iain Gault also revealed that 85% of young offenders are male and the peak age for offending is between 14 and 15.

He says the findings highlight the need for the work of Children's Hearings to continue to address both the "needs and the deeds" of Scotland's young people.

Mr Gault also believes the research shows how important early intervention is in saving young lives from being seriously damaged.

Rising numbers

In March this year it was revealed that the number of young people in Scotland referred to the children's hearing system was at the highest level since records began more than 30 years ago.

Almost 40,000 youngsters were referred to or dealt with by the Scottish Children's Panel system in 2001-02.

New figures show that the number of first time youth offenders reported has increased by 20% compared to two years ago.

The statistics were revealed in the annual report from the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA).

The SCRA was set up in 1996 to administer referrals of children in the system, taking over the function from local authorities.

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