Youth crime rises in Brent
PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 May 2014
The number of youths aged 10-17 who are being convicted of criminal offences in the borough has increased, figures reveal.
A report by Brent Council shows 121 young people entered the youth justice system between April last year and this January, compared to 112 the year before.
In addition, the number of youths being sent to young offenders’ institutions was up by two per cent – despite a decline nationally.
The percentage of youths who were in education, employment or training, at the time of their conviction is down from 83.6 per cent to 81.6 per cent.
Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala, who represents the Stonebridge ward, works with youths in Brent. He is calling for the availability of more activities in the borough to divert young people away from crime.
He said: “This is terrible news for our young people. Although it’s important we take tough action on youth crime, it’s also important we provide alternatives to keep young people out of crime.
“The government cuts to youth services, such as abolishing Brent Connexions, which gave career advice to young workers, is making it harder, not easier, to tackle youth crime.
“We need to divert our youngsters away from crime and gangs. If not, we could easily see another repeat of the London riots”.
The most numerous offences committed by young people in the borough were drug-related offences, violence against the person, including common assault and robbery, theft and handling stolen goods.
Calling the figures “unsurprising”, Amer Hajan, a worker at the Roundwood Club Youth Centre in Willesden, said: “It is a never-ending cycle and most people do not know where to go and how to stop their criminal activities.
“Instead of turning to a life of crime, youths need to focus on something they can do for free –they need to find a talent, find a passion.”
There has been a similar increase in the number of young people receiving a court order.
Sara Williams, Brent Council’s operational director of education and Early Help children services, said they were committed to preventing young people offending or re-offending.
She added: “Brent Council is dedicated to providing the best start in life for the borough’s young people.”
“We run a range of projects and activities at the Roundwood Centre which will make a huge difference to young people, providing a safe place to learn, train and enjoy themselves.
“In addition, school-leavers in Brent are more likely to be in education or training than in almost any other part of the country.”