Young first-time entrants to criminal justice system in Norfolk fall by a third in a year

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

The number of first-time young offenders in Norfolk entering the criminal justice system has dropped by a third in one year, figures show.

First-time entrants (FTE) aged under 18 fell from 325 in 2015 to 221 in 2016 - a 32pc drop - the latest annual report of Norfolk's Youth Offending Team shows.

The report will be presented to Norfolk County Council's children's services department on Tuesday to lay out the team's plans for the upcoming year.

The NYOT is led by the council and run with three statutory partners - Norfolk police, clinical commissioning groups and the National Probation Service.

The team puts the drop in FTEs down partly to its Challenge 4 Change project, which targets young people at the point of arrest.

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Temporary assistant chief constable Paul Sanford said it 'prevents young people from being unnecessarily criminalised'.

The number of young people sentenced to custody dropped from 32 in 2015/16 to 17 in 2016/17, according to the figures, while Norfolk's reoffending rate sits at 36pc, below the national 37.7pc average but above the regional 35.2pc.

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But the report also reveals that the number of nights young people spent remanded in youth detention or local authority accommodation rose from 233 in 2015/16 to 520 in 2016/17, which the report acknowledges is a 'significant increase'.

The NYOT - which says its priorities for the year are to further reduce first-time entrants, youth custody and reoffending - does not have a base budget, but expects its funding from partners to sit at £3.4m for 2017/18.

In a survey of young people using the NYOT, 83pc said they were 'a lot less likely' to offend, the report says.

Key issues which young people sought help for included school and training, drugs use, health, mental health, money and debt and family issues.

Penny Carpenter, chairman of children's services committee, said: 'Every young person diverted away from the criminal justice system is a success story... By supporting these young people early, as soon as they come to the attention of the police, we are able to give them the support they need to make better choices in life, raising their aspirations and giving them every chance to succeed.'

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