Metro: More yobs turning to life of crime

Monday, 11 May, 2009

THE number of youths caught up in a 'revolving door' of criminality has soared by 60 per cent over the last decade.

There were 15,819 persistent young offenders in England and Wales last year compared with 9,868 in 1997.

The crooks - some as young as ten - committed an average of almost 80 crimes every day, Ministry of Justice figures show.

The statistics emerged as police leaders accused courts of going soft on crime by allowing offenders to 'renegotiate' the terms of their community service orders and curfews.

Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever said the government had 'failed abysmally' on crime.

He told a Sunday newspaper: 'The feeling within the police is that we take an awful lot of stick and are blamed for the general failure of the criminal justice system.' The figures were revealed to the Conservatives in response to a parliamentary question.

'I agree with the police that this revolving door of criminality is unacceptable,' said shadow police minister David Ruffley . 'These new figures show that Labour ministers have presided over a decade of yobbery, fuelled by massive increases in the number of repeat young offenders.' Justice minister David Hanson said education and training for young offenders was helping cut re-offending.

'Sentencing in individual cases is rightly a matter for the courts,' he said.

A persistent young offender is someone aged ten to 17 who has been sentenced three or more times for one or more imprisonable offences..

A PRIMARY school pupil was caught dealing cannabis, handing out the drug to 'impress his friends'. The boy, who has not been named, was immediately suspended and now faces expulsion from Headlands Primary School in Northampton.

Headteacher Andrew Lakatos said the child's actions were 'incredibly misguided'. 'We spoke (to pupils) of the facts and sought to prevent any misunderstandings and reinforce our anti-drugs messages. This incident was completely unacceptable,' he said. Northamptonshire Police, called to the school on Wednesday, are investigating.