Argus Lite: Number of persistent young offenders rises in Sussex

Tuesday, 12 May, 2009

There have been Asbo yobs and hoodies - now we have PYOs.

PYOs, or persistent young offenders, are anyone aged 10 to 17 who is guilty of at least one crime on four or more separate occasions within a certain number of years.

New figures have revealed a dramatic rise in the number of PYOs in Sussex.

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that the number of PYOs in the county has trebled in the past 11 years.

Last year 362 youths in Sussex fell into this category, up from 99 in 1997. In the same period the number of offences they were responsible for quadrupled from 157 to 674.

Conservative police reform minister David Ruffley , who obtained the figures, said: 'Police officers are concerned that a huge amount of their time is spent dealing with the same repeat young offenders that the criminal justice system fails to keep off the streets or rehabilitate.

"This revolving door of criminality is unacceptable."

Some councils, however, have refuted the statistics, providing data which shows the number of repeat young offenders in certain districts has fallen.

Figures released by East Sussex County Council show that youth reoffending in the district is decreasing. It says it has declined 6% in 2009 compared to 2005.

Meanwhile figures from Brighton and Hove City Council apos;s Youth Offending Team show a similar story. The council say that the number of persistent young offenders in the city has gone down from 80 in 2007 to 70 last year.

A council spokesman said: 'Brighton and Hove youth offending team has seen a reduction of 43% in first time entrants into the criminal justice system in the last year. We believe that this is a reflection of the hard work of staff in schools, the police, Community Safety Team, youth service and youth offending teams in identifying young people at risk of offending and intervening early to help them to achieve their potential.'

He added: 'The Youth Offending Teams focuses its resources on the minority of young people who cause harm and disruption to the community. These young people's lives are frequently characterised by poor educational attainment and mental health and substance misuse problems.'