Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has called for the radical improvement of youth justice provision following the publication of the Audit Office Report on Managing Children Who Offend.
“The report raises a number of concerns around the increasing rate of youth reoffending and the ongoing evidence that custody is still not being used as a last resort,” he commented.
“Recommendations have already been made by the Youth Justice Review on addressing many of the issues highlighted in this report and they should now be fully implemented.
“Action must be taken to ensure proper programmes of early intervention and prevention are put in place to ensure young people do not become caught in a cycle of reoffending.
“It is also crucial that young people released from prison have access to appropriate support services before, during and after the transition from custody to community.
“Sinn Féin have always maintained that youth justice is a matter which requires ongoing prioritisation and reform. Much more needs to be done, and can be done, to address the underlying reasons for the offending behaviour of young people. The key is early intervention and prevention work, which requires a collaborative approach between the Department of Justice and other Departments such as Education and Health.
“Radical improvements are necessary. There is a need for a dedicated youth justice strategy to address youth offending and reoffending which will contribute to a safer and fairer society with less offending and fewer victims.”