Letter: More between lines of suicide message

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your editorial 'Suicide message to politicians' (30 August) highlighted two important points. One was that for 11 young people so far this year, a custodial sentence or period of remand in custody resulted in tragic death. The other was that recorded juvenile crime has fallen, not risen, in recent years. This needs to be reiterated and widely publicised.

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.

Yours faithfully,




London, SW9

30 August