Sense of optimism as new report shows fewer Fenland youngsters jailed than at any time in years

FEWER youngsters in Fenland are being jailed than at any time in years, according to new figures presented to local councillors.

The number of 10 to 18 year olds put behind bars has fallen to its lowest ever level with just two given custodial sentences in 2009/10. This compares to eight in 2008/9, 14 in 2007/8 and 12 in 2006/7.

But whilst Fenland’s figures show a dramatic decline, the situation is completely the opposite in Huntingdonshire where 15 youngsters were given custodial sentences last year.

Overall the number of youngsters being locked up across the county as a whole has fallen in the past three years from 37 in 2006/07 to 27 in 2009/10 with house burglary or affray the most common offences.

The report to Fenland Council’s overview and scrutiny performance panel says the critical age of arrests and sentencing is 17 years of age. This accounts for six out of every 10 offenders.

And although the report offers some comfort for falling levels of offenders overall, figures show a “significantly higher portion” were now young girls.

“The number of males in the system has seen the most significant reduction,” says the report prepared by The Safer Fenland Partnership.

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“However they still make up over half off all offenders. What is of greatest concern is that the number of females within the system has not fluctuated at all over the past four years, and as a result makes up a significantly higher portion of offenders.”

The majority of young offenders charged in 2009/10 (81.5%) were given detention and training orders and the remainder received a Section 91 Order.

The punishment is handed out to any young person who is convicted on an offence for which an adult could receive at least 14 years in jail. The offender is released automatically from custody at the halfway point of the jail-sentence and can be freed up to a maximum of 135 days early on the Home Detention curfew scheme.

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