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SUSTAINED INVESTMENT NEEDED TO REDUCE YOUNG OFFENDING

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COSLA endorses Audit Scotland's recognition of the need for sustained investment in services to reduce offending by...
COSLA endorses Audit Scotland's recognition of the need for sustained investment in services to reduce offending by young people*.

COSLA's social work and health improvement spokesperson said today that he was particularly pleased at the conclusion that more community-based services are needed and that shortages of social workers need to be dealt with as a matter of priority. COSLA is already treating this as a matter of priority and much has happened since the audit was done.

Councillor McColl said: 'Staff shortages are a real problem that need addressing urgently. For example, if shorter timescales were put in place to turn around cases without addressing issues of staff shortages then it is hard to see how improved services could be delivered.

'COSLA welcomes these findings but is adamant that more money is required to address some of the vital issues.

'Councils are not complacent about youth justice services and will continually strive to improve but we are clear about the areas where more funding is needed for local government to deliver.

'Can I also say that this is not just about local government. Some of the findings highlight the need for the Executive to change the whole culture of the justice system for example the report says that 60 per cent of the large numbers imprisoned are reconvicted within two years of their release which would point to the justice system directing young people into community based services wherever appropriate.'

Cllr McColl also pointed out that: 'Persistent offenders carry out a disproportionate amount of the crime committed by young people and to make it easier for them to stop their behaviour. Councils have developed intensive focused work. The report describes some of the new work as providing 'excellent support' to young people. More money has been needed to increase our innovative work with the voluntary sector. Unless the Executive continues to increase systematic funding for such work a significant proportion of young people will continue to re-offend and face imprisonment across Scotland.'

He concluded: 'I reluctantly have to say that the Executive has not helped the task of addressing young people's offending because of them requiring Criminal Justice Services to be provided outside individual social work departments. This means that developing joined up arrangements with children's services to address youth offending is much more difficult than it needs to be.'

* See SUSTAINED PROGRAMME OF ACTION NEEDED TO DEAL WITH OFFENDING BY YOUNG PEOPLEon LGCnet.

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