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£200,000 Crackdown On City Young Offenders

Young offenders who each commit dozens of crimes in Coventry face electronic tracking in a new scheme designed to end their bad behaviour.

Coventry's Youth Offending Service has been one of the first in the country to successfully bid for cash to create a new scheme to help combat the problem.

The service will receive more than £200,000 per year for three years from the national Youth Justice Board to fund an Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP) aimed at the city's most prolific young offenders.

The scheme aims to reduce the re-offending rate by closely monitoring the behaviour of young offenders. There are 56 youths in Coventry known to have committed 1,420 offences between them.

Electronic tracking, a voice verification system and education and training will be used to deter them from crime.

The programme consists of individually designed packages tailored to the supervision and surveillance needs of each young offender.

In the most serious cases, it could comprise of 24 hour, seven day a week electronic tracking.

Another new part of the scheme is the use of voice verification, where a young offender's whereabouts is monitored through the use of a computerised telephone system.

The young person will register his or her voice in the presence of a youth offending team officer, and given a unique identification number and a contact schedule.

The young person will need to be at a given place at the given time on his or her contact schedule where they will take a call from the computerised system, and will need to register their details by speaking to a voice prompt.

If the young person does not take the call, or the voice is not recognised, the system alerts a youth offender team officer who can take appropriate action, which could lead to the young person being put before the courts.

The verification schedule can be arranged so the young person takes calls from school, home, work or any other suitable location. It can also be arranged at times or places where they are most likely to be at risk of not complying with their order.

The ISSP scheme also emphasises personal responsibility among the offenders, making them see things from the victim’s and getting involved with reparation programmes.

There are close links with education, training and employment, and an emphasis on the development of personal and social skills, with a minimum of five hours structured activity each weekday and three hours at weekends.

Cllr Tom White, cabinet member (Community Well-Being) said:

"I am delighted that Coventry 's Youth Offending Service has been successful in their bid for this money and must congratulate our Youth Offending Team for their hard work in preparing the bid.

“ISSP is a major new initiative that will provide highly structured and intensive supervision for young offenders, while its emphasis on education and training will give the young offenders a focus away from crime.

“We want to reassure the community that the behaviour of our most prolific 10-17 year olds is being dealt with and that any failure to comply with court orders is taken most seriously. This is a no-nonsense approach that I hope will act as a deterrent from crime but also offer opportunities for those young offenders to turn their lives around."

The scheme will be operational by July 2001 and will work within the overall context of the Youth Offending initiatives currently in operation in the city.

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 21 Mar 01
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