West Berkshire youth justice system cases drop by 50%

The amount of young people entering the youth justice system has almost halved in West Berkshire, latest figures show.

West Berkshire Council credits the fall to a restorative justice scheme where offenders meet their victims instead of being involved in criminal proceedings.

It said an "early intervention" scheme also contributed to the 48.7% fall in 2011 compared to 2010 - from 693 to 356 youth criminal cases.

The figures are well ahead of the average national reduction of 19.3%.

Victim Stephen Cross, from Newbury, who took part in the Youth Restorative Disposal scheme (YRD) said meeting his attacker led to a positive outcome.

He said: "He apologised for doing it which I thought was brave of him.

"He's seen the error of his ways, and he'll think twice about doing it again."

YRDs were introduced by Thames Valley Police in 2009 after a national pilot.

They offer an alternative to arrest and formal criminal proceedings for first-time low-level crime offenders.

West Berkshire Council also set up a team in 2001 to work with eight to 15-year-olds focussing on preventing offending in the first place, or to intervene at an early stage to halt further offending.

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