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STREET-WISE YOUNGSTERS PROVE EFFECTIVE IN FIGHTING CRIME

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Two years of pilot schemes have found that young people - many unemployed and without school qualifications - can r...
Two years of pilot schemes have found that young people - many unemployed and without school qualifications - can reach disaffected gangs and broker deals with adult authorities on their behalf, reports The Guardian (p6).

Crime and fear of crime have dropped in districts ranging from Swansea to Bradford, according to the Local Government Information Unit, after the formation of youth action groups, funded by a range of charities and other agencies but run by under-25s.

On one vandalised estate in Bradford, emergency calls have dropped from more than 10 a week to nil after a youth team spent six months working with a gang that had targeted a parade of shops.

The key to success has been recuiting streetwise young people and genuinely taking their advice and actng on it, said the report, Taking Part, published by the LGIU and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders.

The report, sent to all local authorities, pointed out young people were far more likely to experience violent crime - affecting 21% of 16 to 24-year-olds in 1997, compared with 5% of the general population, but the public persistently focused on youth involvement in crime, possibly deterring policy makers from consulting young people in finding solutions.

'It is important to be clear on the facts of youth crime, and to avoid these assumptions which feed negative views of young people and what they have to offer,' the report said.

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