Second-chance scheme to tackle youth crime in Hull 'has saved taxpayer £9m'
A SCHEME to cut youth crime in Hull has saved taxpayers almost £9m because of a huge fall in reoffending.
Hundreds of child criminals have avoided prosecution and instead been offered support or referred to youth clubs or other organisations.
The drop in crime has been so significant that youth courts will only run two days a week from next year – instead of three days a week as it does now.
Almost 1,000 children aged between ten and 17 have been released without charge by police and youth workers in Hull as part of the scheme, known as the Triage System.
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Fewer than 200 of those have gone on to reoffend. The number of young people being arrested has fallen by more than 30 per cent.
Nick Metcalfe, manager of the Hull youth justice service, said: "It has been enormously successful.
"If we do some work with the young people in the community, we will probably never see them again.
"It is about getting people at an early stage when their life might be a bit wobbly and, with some help, we can get them stable again without going through the painful, difficult and expensive process of going to court.
"The fact that youth court is going down to two days a week gives a flavour of what a big impact this has had. That will also bring significant savings."
When a child is arrested, they are assessed by police and youth workers – who are based within Priory Road Police Station – to see whether they can be released without warning or charge.
It is usually only offered to first-time offenders who admit responsibility and show remorse.
Instead of being punished, they may be offered support to help tackle problems at home or issues with drugs or alcohol.
Without the system, the child would either be given a warning known as a reprimand, which would remain on record for five years, or charged to appear in court.
Young people who commit serious offences are still prosecuted.
Chief Inspector Dave Houchin, who heads up neighbourhood policing in Hull, said: "It has been a huge success. Anything we can do to reduce reoffending will always reduce crime overall. We are forever aspiring to get the right outcome for the victim and the offender to reduce crime."
The scheme is led by the youth justice service, which is run by Hull City Council alongside Humberside Police.
Mr Metcalfe said it is estimated almost £9m has been saved because of the fall in police and court costs.
An spokesman for Her Majesty's Court Service said: "HM Courts, in conjunction with the judiciary, routinely reviews local listing arrangements, taking into account changes in workload, in order to make the best use of resources and facilities for users and taxpayers alike.
"From January, the youth court at Hull Magistrates' Court will be reduced from three days to two days a week due to a reduction in youth court business."