Celebrating record reductions in youth crime

Swansea’s award-winning Youth Offending Service is celebrating its 10th birthday and is helping make our city a safer place.

Over the last decade the team has helped thousands of young people avoid or turn their backs on crime.

And that work has seen record reductions in the number of car thefts, domestic burglary and serious violent crime being committed by young people.

Each year more than 2,000 young people have been given the opportunity to avoid criminal behaviour or make a fresh start through YOS.

Since 2000 youth crime is down by more than 70 per cent with the biggest reductions seen in the theft of cars, domestic burglary and serious violent crime.

Re-offending by young people in Swansea is among the lowest in England and Wales. The number of persistent young offenders has fallen by 90 per cent.

Reported youth crime has declined from over 2,000 in 2000/1 reported incidents to 532 in 2009/10.

Eddie Isles, Manager of the Youth Offending Service, said: “Over 10 years the YOS and its partner agencies have worked to make Swansea a safer place to live for all its citizens.

“The work is important not just to make Swansea residents feel safer in their communities and to enjoy lower insurance premiums but also to bring the economic benefits associated with a more attractive city.

“It’s also vital we do all we can to give our young people a chance for a better future and that we support them to achieve their potential away from crime, violence, drugs and alcohol misuse.

“Young people have worked with us in schools and communities and helped change Swansea from a high youth crime area to one of the lowest in the UK.

“Their participation; the valued involvement of many volunteers and the role played by Magistrates in Swansea Youth Court have all contributed to making Safer Swansea a reality.”

New figures show that thanks to the Youth Offending Service the numbers of young people being sent to custody by the courts has fallen by more than anywhere else in the country.

Prevention measures and working with parents has resulted in a drop of 55 per cent in the number of first time entrants to the criminal justice systems.

The work being done in Swansea has also caught the eye of the Home Office in London which has held up our city as a prime example of how to tackle youth crime and the causes of it.

John, aged 20 from the Swansea area, knows first-hand what a vital role YOS can play in a young person’s life.

At the age of 17 he was addicted to heroin, had been in jail, was out of food and out of cash and living in a tent outside Swansea’s Guildhall.

Three years on and with the support of Swansea Drugs Project and the Youth Justice Centre, part of the Youth Offending Service, John’s turned his life around.

He has a place to call home in Briton Ferry, he owns a motorcycle and now volunteers at the YJC- the very place where he found people willing to support him in his effort to change his life.

John said: “Coming here was a tremendous help. I think it was one of the most important things I have done in my life. I have tremendous gratitude for what the YJC did to guide me and to show me that there was another side to life.”

YOS is a partnership of Swansea Council, the Police, Probation Service and the Health Trust. It uses early intervention and education strategies, works with parents and helps youngsters avoid the harm of alcohol and drugs misuse.

Four times in 10 years the YOS has been commended or highly commended by the UK Government in the Justice Awards.  In 2006 it won outright winner in the Outstanding Contribution to Tackling Youth Crime category.