Law & Order: Straw presses his case for juveniles' bail support teams

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The Independent Online
Juveniles are up to three times more likely than adults to offend while on bail awaiting trial, according to the Home Office.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, yesterday used research from his department to justify his plans for so-called bail-support schemes for the young.

Under the Crime and Disorder Bill, a key plank in the Government's attempts to reduce juvenile crime, local authorities will be statutorily obliged to set up the schemes.

Youth Offending Teams, which will be forged from a partnership between police, council, health authorities and the probation service, will oversee them. Their aim is to encourage juveniles facing court not to re-offend, to abide by their bail conditions and to attend court at the required time.

The research, yet to be published, appears to back anecdotal stories of so-called "bail bandits" who in extreme examples commit scores of offences while awaiting trial.

Speaking at the Youth Justice Conference in London held by the National Association for Care and Resettlement of Offenders and the British Juvenile and Family Courts Society, Mr Straw said: "Bail support schemes reduce the risk of offending and in turn prevent communities falling victim to further offences.

"Bail support can also help young people observe any bail conditions and gives them the opportunity to tackle difficulties at home or school, or to find accommodation or a job."

Similar schemes already exist and NACRO is planning to apply for lottery funding to set up its own pilot schemes.

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