Children too scared to report crime

Hundreds of young people in Norfolk are failing to report crimes because they are scared of the consequences, a conference heard yesterday.The event organised by Victim Support Norfolk and held at Norwich's John Innes Centre brought together more than 100 people from the police, children's charities and other support groups.

Hundreds of young people in Norfolk are failing to report crimes because they are scared of the consequences, a conference heard yesterday.

The event organised by Victim Support Norfolk and held at Norwich's John Innes Centre brought together more than 100 people from the police, children's charities and other support groups. It heard how more needs to be done to encourage young people to report crimes.

Brian Butcher, chief executive of Victim Support, said that contrary to popular belief, young people are more likely to fall victim to crime than any other age group. About half of 11-16-year-olds have experienced crime but only about 13pc of these offences are reported to police.

Mr Butcher added: “Great strides have been made locally and we are the only Victim Support area nationally to have a group of young people to help us design services relevant to young people.

“It's is vital that we get young people to report any cases of discrim-ination and bullying - people need to know hate crime is taken seriously and is completely unacceptable.”

Among the initiatives aimed at encouraging victims to come forward is a new DVD to raise awareness of hate crime and the impact it has on youngsters.

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The film was the idea of the police's hate crime unit and was produced entirely by young people with the support of Victim Support and other groups such as the NR5 community project and the Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council.

Victim Support has also formed a Youth Advisory Panel made up of young people who have been victims of crime or who are concerned about crime. New members are currently being sought to join this panel.

Donna Smith, from City College Norwich, presented the findings of research to the conference. She said: “Young people are not just scared of bullies or gangs but of the criminal justice system and the police.

“Some don't feel they need to report crimes as they have a good relationship with parents or teachers but they need to be more aware of the support that is available.

“It is important that young people have services tailored to their needs and not just help that replicates the help that is available to adults.”

More information on the support available to young people can be found at www.are-you-ok.org.uk. The DVD can also be viewed on www.edp24.co.uk later today and copies can be obtained by emailing d.jackson@NR5project.co.uk.