'The baddest people can change'

Mark Eardley

The Scottish government is to place greater emphasis on crime prevention. As the new strategy is unveiled, BBC Scotland correspondent Lucy Adams spoke to one young offender who has turned his life around.

Mark Eardley says he started getting trouble when he was seven years old.

He started stealing and getting in fights.

Aged 11, he was regularly in trouble with the police.

By the time he was 16 he says he was out of control and was put in care.

"I was running away constantly for days at a time so they just put me in a care home," he says.

"Me and my big brother were just wild. My mum was strict but we were just too wild."

And then he says he did one very "stupid thing" and tried to "rob" a shop. He ended up in prison.

But after two months on remand he agreed to take part in Action for Children's Moving On project, which helps get young people into training and work placements.

Mark took part in their 12-week chef training programme.

Now 22, he works full-time as a chef.

It's a job he's done for more than three years. A job he says he can't get enough of.

Stop offending

When asked what made a difference, why the social workers and teachers and children's panel visits didn't change his path as a teenager, he says he found a project that focused on what he could do, not on what he shouldn't do.

"They [social workers and police] were more focussed on just trying to stop us from being bad," he says.

"I don't think they ever cared about my qualifications or school or that. I thought they really just wanted us to stop offending, not how I was doing in primary school or school or behind the scenes.

"But Moving On cared, and actually they still do.

"Moving On actually helped and made sure you come first and took care of you and put you on the right path.

"It just shows you. I was a bad lad but look at where I am now. I've got a full-time job. It just shows you. The baddest people can change."