NINETY-TWO young people are currently being supervised by the Youth Justice Agency in Banbridge.
That’s according to statistics released by the Agency, which relaunched the services it offers at an event held on Thursday to publicise the work they do in the community.
Since the office was restructured in last year 135 young people have been received through the organsation’s doors with 33% of those for violence against people. Robberies account for 18% of all those who have been seen by the Agency with offences against the State, such as public order offences, making up 15%.
The Banbridge Area Office, which was restructured on October 1 2011 but has been in the district for about eight years, is one of eight new Youth Justice Agency area teams established across Northern Ireland. It is hoped these new arrangements will ensure that Agency staff are now better equipped to deliver a more cohesive and integrated approach for young people, their families, communities and victims.
Guests from the statutory, community and voluntary sectors attending the launch heard about the range of community based orders and services delivered by the Agency. Examples of arts and crafts undertaken by young people undergoing reparation activities were on display throughout the building.
Highlights of the day included a practical demonstration of a youth conference - a restorative meeting between the young person and their victim – and a worked example of how the delivery of a community order is monitored for completion. This was followed by an opportunity to hear of the personal experiences of some of those who had been through the process.
Assistant Director of the Youth Justice Agency’s Banbridge Area team, Michael Heaney said, “Our new area team structures mean that Youth Justice Agency staff are now better organised and prepared for delivering our full range of services throughout the community whether that be in Banbridge, Armagh, Newry or Craigavon. This allows us to provide a continuity of service and respond to local offending needs within communities.
“We remain committed to reducing youth crime and to repairing the harm caused by offending. Of course we recognise that we cannot do this alone and rely on the services of others to help us achieve our goal.
“The Agency will now have a more structured approach to working at a local level with our criminal justice partners and those organisations who provide vital support services to young people who quite often have complex issues in their lives, including mental health problems, drugs and alcohol addictions and homelessness. We look forward to developing these partnerships further and coordinating our services in a more joined-up manner.”