Mentors needed to lead

Young people and crime
Young people and crime
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Keeping children and young people out of trouble and on the straight and narrow is the subject of a new county wide campaign.

East Sussex County Council is appealing for people to come forward and help youngsters take a path away from crime.

The council’s Youth Offending Team is also holding an open evening for anyone interested in volunteer work to help stop children and young people from offending.

The open evening will run as an informal, drop-in session, between 5pm and 7.30pm, on Monday December 10 at St Mark’s House in Eastbourne.

Councillor Nick Bennett, the council’s lead member for learning and school effectiveness, said, “This event gives potential volunteers the chance to meet staff from the Youth Offending Team and to meet current YOT volunteers, so visitors can really get a feel as to what it’s all about – the benefits and the challenges.

“There are lots of different ways that people can help support the work of the team, including acting as an appropriate adult for young people in custody, supporting victims of youth crime and helping young people complete their community reparation work.”

Ben Wyatt, YOT volunteer co-ordinator, said, “We’re looking for people who are motivated, reliable, enthusiastic and good communicators.

“It’s important that applicants understand that our work is focussed on supporting and helping these young people, not judging or punishing.”

A spokesperson for the county council said all applicants must have a strong commitment to working without prejudice and they must have a level-headed approach to youth offenders and crime.

All successful volunteers will receive a thorough induction, a Criminal Records Bureau check and training package.

Ben said, “It’s really important that YOT volunteers feel fully supported, not least as this helps ensure that both parties get the best out of each other.”

Anyone interested in going along to the open evening should contact Ben Wyatt on Eastbourne 466633 or email him at ben.wyatt@eastsussex.gov.uk

The Youth Offending Team brings together workers from children’s services, Sussex Police, the probation service, the NHS and the voluntary sector with the aim of preventing children and young people aged between 10 and 17 from offending.

The young people YOT works with are assessed using the Youth Justice Board standard assessment tool called ASSET which is designed to identify the issues most closely linked with the young person’s offending behaviour.

Sussex Police arrested children 88 times a week on average last year, it was revealed last month.

Officers made 4,564 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under during 2011, a fall of 36 per cent since 2008, when 7,081 were recorded.

Child arrest figures for Sussex were 6,653 in 2009 and 5,779 in 2011.

Across England and Wales, police made more than 209,000 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under last year including 2,117 arrests of children who were aged 10 or 11.