Curfew scheme for young a success

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A PIONEERING child curfew project has proved a success, the Home Office said yesterday, paving the way for similar schemes around the country.

The Child Safety Initiative was introduced last year by Strathclyde Police in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, at three housing estates with high crime rates. It has helped to cut juvenile offences in the area by around one third.

Now the scheme has attracted interest from the Home Office in the run- up to the introduction of local authority child curfew notices across Britain on Wednesday under the Crime and Disorder Act.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We have been keeping a keen eye on the success of the Strathclyde scheme because of the impending introduction of child curfew notices.

"Local authorities will soon be able to introduce curfew schemes for children under the age of 10 which can then be enforced by the police ... The Scottish force has also dealt with older children in this way and we are interested in that part of this ongoing project."

John Orr, the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, said he was delighted with the success of the initiative, which was attacked by some civil rights groups as an infringement on civil liberty.

"This initiative continues to draw support from the local communities, who have welcomed the results ... in terms of improving the quality of life and reducing the fear of crime," he said. "We are currently awaiting the publishing of academic research conducted by Stirling University before deciding whether to extend the scheme."

Police estimate that juvenile crime has fallen by more than 30 per cent and complaints about youth disorder have almost halved since the scheme began.

It was introduced in the Whitehall, Fairhill and Hillhouse estates in Hamilton after growing concern among residents about street disturbances and crime caused by youngsters. Teams of police officers patrol the streets from 7.30pm, targeting children under 16. Those found wandering can be escorted home or taken to a safe room at the police station.

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