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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Young offenders scheme examined
Wrexham is one of 11 areas piloting the scheme
Politicians are to add their comments to an innovative scheme in north Wales which gives the community a say on how young offenders are punished.

Local councillors will examine the pros and cons of the pilot project in Wrexham during a question and answer session on Friday.


This has given the opportunity for the young person to take responsibility for the offence they have committed

Martyn Jones, MP for Clwyd South

It follows the introduction of a Youth Referral Panel - which consists of two people from the locality and a member of the youth offending team.

Under the scheme panel listen to the crimes committed by the youngster before drawing up an individual contract which the young offender must follow.

Wrexham is one of 11 areas across the UK piloting the new scheme.

Amy Newell, of Wrexham Youth Offending Service, said councillors from all over the borough are attending the forum.

"There is different issues in different wards in the borough. There are different needs. We are giving them a chance to voice their concerns on how we deal with it," she said.

Clwyd South MP Martyn Jones
Mr Jones has backed the scheme from the start

The scheme which was introduced in April 2002 works by giving referral orders for 10 to 17-year-olds who plead guilty on a first time conviction.

Once an order is given, the youngster faces a Youth Offender Panel.

The panel consists of two volunteers recruited directly from the local community, alongside one member of the youth offending team

Volunteers on the Wrexham panel were recruited via posters in the local community, and have each undergone three months training.

The panel decides on an appropriate punishment and a tailor-made contract is drawn up, which the youngster signs.

Contract breach

"Their punishment is proportional to the offence they have committed," says Amy Newell.

"If their committed offence is in the day time when they are supposed to be at school, going to school could be part of the contract.

"If they graffitied a wall it could be that they are asked to clean the wall."

Breach of contract can result in the youth being sent back to court.

Eleven contracts have been issued in Wrexham since the legislation was introduced, none of which have been broken.

Responsibility

Martyn Jones, MP for Clwyd South, has backed the scheme from the start and will be present to answer questions at Friday evening's forum.

"With the advent of the Youth Offender Panels earlier this year, this has given the opportunity for the young person to take responsibility for the offence they have committed," he said.

"The open forum will provide local councillors with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the excellent work being carried out by the Wrexham youth offending team in coordinating these initiatives locally."

Members of the public have also been invited to attend the open forum.


More news from north east Wales
See also:

27 Jun 02 | Scotland
29 May 02 | UK Politics
22 May 02 | Scotland
19 May 02 | UK Politics
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