Hit list plan for young criminals

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The Independent Online
A national audit of young sex offenders, arsonists and repeat car thieves is to be drawn up under government proposals for anti-crime task forces.

Lists of persistent offenders aged between 10 and 17 will be compiled in every local authority in England and Wales.

Youngsters considered highly likely to commit further crimes are expected to be identified separately.

Police, probation officers, social services, health and education departments will identify potential troublemakers.

The proposed measures will be part of the forthcoming Crime And Disorder Bill, in which the Home Office intends to create Youth Offender Teams in every local authority.

At first the teams will compile lists of the number of young offenders in their region. They will particularly target convicted sex offenders, arsonists and car thieves.

In addition the audit will include all young offenders convicted of two or more crimes. The youth teams are expected to later identify offenders who are considered to be particularly troublesome and likely to commit further crimes.

Under the measures, which are contained in a Home Office draft guidance report, the audit will be used to identify the scale of the problem in different parts of the country and allocate suitable resources to combat it.

Pilot schemes for the new young offender teams will start in October, along with trials for Parenting Orders and child curfews, both measures contained in the Crime and Disorder bill.

Social Service departments are expected to oppose any measure that will force them to identify clients whom they consider to be potential tearaways, as this is likely to destroy any trust built up with the problem families.

Harry Fletcher, of the National Association of Probation Officers, said: "It sounds eminently sensible to hold a youth crime audit.

"But the plan will only be successful if local authorities are given sufficient resources to deal with the causes of crime."

He added: "It's absolutely essential that any register of young offenders is kept confidential."

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