Tuesday, 3 January 2012


A police initiative in North Lanarkshire has cut serious violent crime by 20% by identifying and tackling problem families and working with agencies to help find work for young people in trouble using a mix of persuasion and compulsion..
Statistics from the police division show there have been 90 fewer victims of serious assault in the past year – with estimated savings of £2 million for the police and NHS: dramatic results by anyone’s standards.
Like everywhere else there are a small number of people responsible for most of the crime. By concentrating on them, the results have been astounding:
Youth disorder reduced by 43% in the last two years;
serious assaults reduced by 20% last year and down a further 14% so far this financial year;
overall violence cut by 22%, including murder and attempted murder.
Having been identified as been on the verge of crime, the kids are taken on Outward Bound weekends after initially working with the police for a few months, They get to know the police and the police get to know them and barriers are broken down. Following from that the kids may go into training or employment, through contacts with other agencies.
Some kids come from families with maybe three generations of worklessness. They are people who are alienated from normal society and breaking  that mould requires proactive work.
It seems that the police almost act like surrogate parents, role models which the kids have never had. And it may seem like it’s hardly the cops’ jobs, but whatever anyone says, if it works, it works. It costs £40,000 to keep a person in prison for a year; and when they come out, they are virtually unemployable. This is vastly cheaper, and kids without prison records are much easier to get into work.
I hope Kenny MacAskill will look very carefully at this scheme and its cost effectiveness with a view to suggesting spreading it over a wider area, and then maybe over all of Scotland.  
A saving of that size over the entire country would make a huge difference financially, but think how much safer the streets would be.
Let’s also hope that the police can work too with Shona Robison, the sports minister, with a view to getting one of the hub sports facilities that come as part of the Commonwealth games. Although I’m no sportsman myself, I’m convinced that in sport lies the answer to many of our youths’ problems.


  1. You're right about sport making a difference Tris, but it has to be 'organised' sport with strong management. Sadly in Scotland we only seem to see that where football's concerned and other sports are left behind.

    Boxing, karate, swimming, mountaineering, running are all sports which could encourage the young to join -if the will was there.

  2. The will is there now SR at lest at the top. Shona is passionate about sport and these new sports hubs are opening over the country. Of course there cannot be one in every village, more's the pity. But this sort of trial with the police getting involved might persuade the government that it is worth some more of their very limited budget, given how much money it saves from other parts of the budget. If it can be shown to pay for itself, perhaps the money can be found.

    And it would be good to see other sports pushed more, you're right. Contrary to popular opinion, not every lad likes playing football, or has the skills that football demands.

    And, given my colleagues' experience of working with girls, it would be good to see emphasis put on some of the sports which they are more likely to want to play. The idea that life from about 12 on is about chasing boys with the aim of not being alone, which is what my youth worker colleagues have found, is a sad one, and tends to end badly.

  3. The problem that we have in this country [UK] is that we see the law and its enforcement as bulwark against the unruly and, sadly, this also applies to children. let's not forget that, in this country, we jail children. They are children not criminals. [There is always the exception to the rule: the Bulger case for one] In England the age of criminal responsibility is 10. That, in itself, I believe, is a criminal act when we accept as a society that children are aware of the total implications of their actions. They are children FFS.
    The UK's total disregard for human rights, towards children, is an abomination that should not be tolerated by any civilised nation.
    Right up to the late 60s we were still sending orphaned children to the 'colonies'.

    We should adopt the Scandinavian attitude to children and rid ourselves of the Anglo-Saxon attitude that still pervades our society.

  4. I'm for the Scandinavian attitude to most things. They seem to have made successes of their countries with very little to work with (except Norway of course, which has an oil fund). I've always wished that I'd been born in Scandinavia (apart from the weather!!)

    I'm not sure what the official attitude to children is, but I've recently been reading detective fiction set in Sweden, and the police role seems to be 'policing by consent'.

    The way that we have treated orphans over the years is despicable. Sending them to the colonies as slaves was a foul thing to do. And we turned a blind eye to the ones in orphanages, allowing male (and female) paedophiles to abuse them with impunity (especially the ones attached to churches)

    I don't think that kids should be criminally responsible at 10. I believe that they are thinking of following Scotland (AGAIN), but I believe that 14 or 15 is probably the right age. That given, I think that before that, their parents must be responsible for them.

  5. I am wondering why the Police have to do his for it to work?

    What have the Social Work Depts been doing all this time?

    Incidentally summers in Denmark and Sweden are gloriously warm.

  6. I think, Wolfie, the police have done "community work" for a long time. When I was at school they came and talked to us about drugs and not getting into cars with strangers no matter how nice their cars were...and I used to think, they'd have to have a Rolls or a Lamborghini before I'd be interested because my dad drove Jag...

    When I worked in a Housing Estate on the outskirts of Dundee, the police used to call in at the local youth club and make friends with the kids, to try to get them on side. It's a good way to make kids who were brought up to think of th police as "the enemy", wonder what their father is on about...

  7. tris

    Brill idea hopefully they will implement it in the City Of London there is quite a few families who have been at it for hunnreds of years this could strop em dead.

  8. Nah; it won't. These people are beyond help...