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SCOTLAND: Ten-year-olds to be tagged in 'ned' blitz

Sunday Herald - 22 June 2003
Ten-year-olds to be tagged in 'ned' blitz
Crime survey reveals that youngsters are main victims of youth violence

Children as young as 10 could be electronically tagged under Scottish Executive plans to be published this week aimed at cracking down on young troublemakers.
The central policy of Jack McConnell's new administration will push ahead controversial, tough sanctions against parents who fail to control their children. The proposals will give courts and children's panels a wider range of options for curbing tearaways before they become dangerously alienated.

The problem of youth crime has been raised by a survey, published for the first time in the Sunday Herald today, which shows the extent to which young people themselves are one of society's most victimised groups -- but that much of the problem goes unreported.

The Mori survey of 1551 Glasgow school pupils last February, commissioned by the city council and Strathclyde Police, shows children are much less satisfied than adults with their home areas, and that they feel unsafe due to gangs (68%) and drug users (60%).

More than half had experienced crime in the previous year, two out of five being threatened by others. One in five were physically attacked, rising to one in three boys aged 14 to 18.

The survey shows much crime against young people goes unreported, partly due to a widespread feeling that police pick on them. Only 14% of those who had experienced crime reported it, including only a quarter of those who had a mobile phone stolen. One positive message is that children tend to feel safe in school.

Margaret Curran, the communities minister, said the current justice system allows children to grow into hardened criminals by the time they are 16. She said a combination of prevention and enforcement must be used to tackle gangs of youths besieging the homes of elderly and vulnerable people, breaking windows, getting drunk and violent, taking drugs and vandalising property.

Youths should no longer be able to think the system cannot touch them, she said. And she stressed anti-social behaviour and nuisance neighbours are problems affecting all types of community -- including villages and better-off, owner-occupier housing.

Included in her plans will be Anti-Social Behaviour Orders , which could bar offenders from certain areas and activities. They can also require offenders to undertake training or get work experience, where often they have none.

Community Reparation Orders would require offenders to clear up damage and even face up to victims. Parents could also be ordered to take responsibility for at least trying to curb their children's behaviour.

If either civil law order is broken, it would become a criminal law matter, with tagging of children as young as 10 being one of the tougher sanctions.

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