Alderman Maurice Devenney has called for a realistic budget for the Department of Justice so that cash can be cascaded down to the PSNI and other organisations doing intervention work with young people.
Speaking after a meeting on Monday to look at ways of reducing offending by young people, he said a partnership approach was vital to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour among young people, as was a realistic budget for the Youth Justice Agency, PSNI and other groups working to provide alternatives to criminal activity.
“I thought the ‘Prevent and Deter’ symposium was a very positive event, but I am struck by the difficulties caused by lack of realistic funding,” he said.
“When young people go through the Criminal Justice System they need support, this means working on the ground with community and statutory groups, the PCSP and the PSNI to encourage young people not to go back to crime again.
“I want to commend the programme, particularly for the emphasis on a partnership approach to this difficult issue. Reducing offending in partnership so that interventions can be prioritised and young people identified and helped is without a doubt the way forward. Not only will it help to identify persistent offenders, but it will reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and allow effective intervention strategies to be put in place.
“That said, it is my belief that more needs to be done to engage with disadvantaged young people and in particular with young Protestant males who have been shown to be particularly disadvantaged and struggling in mainstream situations in the north west area, with lower grades at school and more likely not to take up further study and not able to access work to give them stability and choice that others have, leading to disenchantment and isolation.
“I call on all statutory agencies to do all in their power to help these young people and to put in place support in existing education programmes and for increased job opportunities for young people here.
“I still have concerns about policing in the rural area and particularly in Faughan with the closure of PSNI stations. This has created a serious difficulty with regard to resources and manpower. A failure to provide adequate policing and support services will only serve to add to the burden that is being faced by society.
“More money is urgently needed, and should be made available to the Department of Justice, the Youth Justice Agency, the PSNI and all other groups which work with young people in trouble to that properly funded programmes can be rolled out, with properly trained staff, to help our young people.”