Youth crime meeting planned

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The meeting will bring together professionals from the States police, Probation Service, Education Department, social workers and other organisations, and is being organised by children’s commissioner Deborah McMillan.

She said it would be held as soon as Covid restrictions allowed face-to-face meetings again, possibly in May or June.

Mrs McMillan said that by then she would be able to present all the latest facts and figures on the issue.

‘The first step is to gather all the data together to find out how many children are involved in crime and how many children go on to commit more crime, despite interventions,’ she said.

The pledge follows serious crimes in St Helier involving teenagers in the past week.

On Thursday afternoon, four teenagers were arrested following an alleged assault in King Street, midway between New Cut and the apple crusher outside Marks and Spencer. There were reports that some of those involved were believed to have been carrying knives.

Armed police responded and three teenagers aged 14, and one aged 16, were arrested for common assault, possession of an offensive weapon and disorderly conduct.

Two knives were recovered, the police said. A man sustained minor injuries during the incident.

There were other arrests after the manager of one of retailer SandpiperCI’s outlets in town was assaulted by a group of youths last Saturday afternoon.

A 14-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of grave and criminal assault, while two others, aged 12 and 14, were arrested on suspicion of affray

There have also been reports of vandalism by young people at Liberty Wharf and repeated complaints about anti-social behaviour elsewhere in St Helier.

Mrs McMillan said: ‘Solving youth crime is a complicated issue but there are two key aspects to it.

‘The first is prevention – stopping them getting involved in the first place.

‘The second is diversion – once they are involved, how we divert them away from it?

‘That’s why I launched the “Child-Friendly Justice Project”, asking what prevention and diversion look like on the Island.’

She said the information she would be able to provide at the meeting was vitally important in getting to grips with the problem.

‘Some of the young people may be in care; they may not be getting any support from their parents, or they may be excluded from school.

‘Even when there are serious allegations, we have to remember that they are children.

‘Yes, we have to deal with crime. But we also have to find out what is going on in their backgrounds.’

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