Youth crime in County Durham has fallen by 85% in less than a decade, with the number of child offenders more than halving since 2010.
Councillors will on July 13 be asked to approve how the County Durham Youth Offending Service (CDYOS) plans to further reduce criminal behaviour in the coming year.
Cllr Ossie Johnson, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for children and adult services, said: “CDYOS has a good reputation, and deservedly so, as this partnership between organisations including the council, Durham Constabulary, the National Probation Service, and health services, has helped to dramatically reduce the number of young people committing crimes and coming to the attention of the courts.
“This last year just eight young people received a custodial sentence – that’s over 80% less than five years ago – while since 2007/08 the numbers sentenced or cautioned in the county has fallen by more than four fifths, and reoffending by almost 75%.”
In 2015/16 161 young people entered the justice system for the first time – a 16.6% reduction year-on-year.
Other successes included continued improvements to the support offered to victims, the development of a mentoring programme, more work on recognising and dealing with child sexual exploitation, and the establishment of a programme for parents who are victims of their child’s offending.
During the year two CDYOS staff, Sarah Caden and Susan Stewart, were awarded a joint “youth justice Oscar” – a Butler Trust Award – for their work around young people’s speech, language and communication needs.
On Wednesday July 13 Durham County Council’s Cabinet will be asked to agree the proposals outlined in CDYOS’ Youth Justice Plan 2016/17 for how it will use its £3.6m budget.
They include further reducing the number of first time offenders, reducing re-offending, and reducing the use of custody for both sentenced and remanded young people.
This will be achieved in a number of ways, including improving communication with young people; putting victims and restorative justice at the heart of everything CDYOS does; and targeting resources to those committing the most offences.
If agreed by Cabinet the report will be presented to full council on July 20 for approval.