Too often in this present climate of extreme hostility to young offenders, the facts have not been allowed to get in the way of the story - that there is an epidemic of youth crime. Perhaps it is easier to play on people's understandable fear of crime by labelling all young offenders as 'evil yobs' and demonising individuals by naming them 'Rat-boy' or 'Blip-boy', than to take a rational look at the extent of the problem and the policies necessary to address it.
Last week, the Central Statistical Office's report 'Social Focus on Children' revealed that fewer young people are committing offences. The number of known juvenile offenders fell by more than a third between 1981 and 1992. Perhaps these figures show that the reforms in dealing with juvenile offenders brought in by the Government in the 1980s, namely more cautioning, fewer young people locked up and more emphasis on diversion from crime, were successful.
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