Swindon Advertiser: Decade of 'yobbery' claim by Tory

Tuesday, 12 May, 2009

YOUTH offending teams in Wiltshire are working with more than 100 young criminals to help them get back on the straight and narrow, new figures have shown.

There are 111 child tearaways currently known to the teams and Wiltshire Police for having committed three or more crimes, up from 71 youths in 1997.

And the number of crimes committed by the persistent young offenders has risen from 104 to 190 in the same period, according to the Ministry of Justice figures.

A persistent young offender (PYO) is anyone aged 10 to 17-years-old who has been found guilty by any court in the UK on three or more separate occasions for one or more recordable offences, and within three years of the last sentencing.

The Tories, who uncovered the figures, said Labour had failed to tackle youth crime but instead presided over a decade of yobbery.

David Ruffley , Shadow Police Reform Minister, 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.

'I agree with the police that this revolving door of criminality is unacceptable.

'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.

'The number of PYOs in England and Wales has soared and the number of offences committed has rocketed.

'These figures make a mockery of Labour's promises to tackle youth crime.'

He added: 'There have been 46 Labour strategies since 1997 to try and tackle youth crime and it's now clear they have failed.'

But Justice Minister David Hanson said education and training for young offenders was helping cut re-offending.

He said: 'We want to help young people get away from crime. But we are clear that we will use tough enforcement when a young person oversteps the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and we will ensure that the most serious crimes are investigated and prosecuted.'

Nationally, the number of PYOs increased by 60 per cent from 9,868 in 1997 to 15,819 in 2008, while crimes committed by PYOs rose by more than 80 per cent from 16,010 to 28,834.