The number of youth offenders in North Yorkshire entering the justice system for the first time has dropped dramatically over the last decade, new figures reveal.
The Criminal Bar Association says that young people accused of serious crimes are “leaping at the offer” of informal resolutions for their offences.
Ministry of Justice Data shows that 109 under-18 first-time offenders were convicted in North Yorkshire in 2018-19.
A decade before, the figure was 800 – meaning a drop of 86%.
It meant that, last year, 201 in every 100,000 10-17 year olds entered the justice system – below the average for Yorkshire and The Humber, where 224 did. Across the region, a similar trend has been seen – 1,121 youths entered the justice system last year, 86% fewer than in 2008-09.
The Criminal Bar Association said that a major reason for the sharp fall in youth prosecutions is the increased use of police community resolution orders.
The association’s chairman, Chris Henley QC, said: “It’s unsurprising offenders arrested for serious crime leap at the offer of an informal community resolution order.
“Sadly, this is all about a lack of resources. The number of community resolution orders issued in serious cases has increased significantly as funding has fallen dramatically. This lets down both the current and future victims of serious crime.”
A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman said: “The fall in the number of young people entering the criminal justice system can partly be attributed to the fact that more first-time offenders for low-level crimes are being put through diversion schemes.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said efforts to rehabilitate low-risk young offenders in the community had caused a 70% drop in the number of children in custody.
He added: “But this Government is serious about sending people to prison who need to be there to punish them for their actions and protect the public.”