Youth crime team praised by American visitors

Social workers from the USA visited Swindon’s Youth Offending Team.  Pictured front are Mayor Mick Bray and Justine Woolner-Wise

Social workers from the USA visited Swindon’s Youth Offending Team. Pictured front are Mayor Mick Bray and Justine Woolner-Wise

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @EmmaDunnn

VISITORS from America jetted into Swindon to see how the Youth Offending Team has kept re-offending rates below the national average.

Young people from Hartwick College, in New York, visited Swindon yesterday to see the youth court held at Swindon Magistrates Court.

They also met members of Swindon Youth Offending Team and mayor Mick Bray.

As part of the visit, the group heard how the team’s procedures, interventions, and multi-agency working, have helped to keep re-offending levels in the town well below national averages.

Kevin Leaning, the head of Swindon Youth Offending Team, said: “Our visitors are keen to compare trends and discuss our methods of addressing criminal behaviour, which in Swindon has reduced first time entrants into the youth justice system and helped keep Swindon safe. I have no doubt that we will also learn from their knowledge and experience, making the visit very worthwhile indeed.”

Since 2006/07 national figures show proven youth crime down by 40 per cent; the numbers entering the youth justice system for the first time down by 59 per cent; and youth custody down by 30 per cent.

Swindon consistently performs better than the national average for re-offending.

Nationally the average rate in the last financial year was 32.8 per cent, compared with 26 per cent in Swindon.

Justine Woolner-Wise, professor of social work at Hartwick College, said: “We have been visiting various sites in London and we came out here to observe court and meet with the Youth Offending Team.

“It is amazing seeing how the youth over here are treated.

“There is a real sense of commitment to how the young people can turn their lives around.

“We really appreciate this opportunity to compare social work in Great Britain to the United States.”

Hartwick College student Daniella Yozzo, 21, of Utica, New York, said: “It is amazing how young people are treated here. Everything is centred around helping people and children.”

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