Report: Intervene early to keep children out of crime

The authorities in Northern Ireland are failing young people who are at risk of getting involved in crime, a report has found.

The report, compiled by the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland, called for authorities to intervene early to effectively tackle young people’s problems and risk factors.

These authorities include executive ministers and those responsible for health and social care, education and criminal justice.

CJI acting chief inspector Brendan McGuigan said: “The path to the youth justice system is a well-trodden one, yet we as a society seem incapable of helping some young people to move off it.”

The review found that a third of young people in the care system have experienced domestic violence or have special learning needs, while a third have self-harmed.

Mr McGuigan said earlier and better-co-ordinated actions would help keep young people out of crime.

He said: “The benefits of early interventions have been well-documented in terms of social, emotional, educational and financial outcomes.

“However, inspectors encountered a number of issues, including a limited overall strategy for justice agencies, a lack of co-ordination between executive departments, a cluttered landscape of provision leading to potential duplications and a lack of evaluation of outcomes.”

Mr McGuigan concluded: “The challenge is immense. The alternative is a continued failure, as a society, for our most vulnerable children.”