Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Get involved in tackling youth offending

Volunteers are needed to get involved in the important process that enables young offenders to deal with – and make reparations for – their actions, prevents re-offending and supports victims of crime.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Youth Offending Service is looking for people to act as community panel members, helping to deal with young people who have received Referral Orders from the court.

These orders, which vary in length from three months to a year, require a young person and their parents/carers to attend a panel, made up of at least two volunteers and a YOS officer. The victim of the offence is also encouraged to attend so the young person can understand the impact their offending has had.

At the panel, a contract is put in place to address issues and prevent reoffending. The contract details reparation the young person must complete, either directly to the victim or indirectly to the community.

It may also include directing the young person into education, employment, training, counselling or other programmes, including those to minimise substance misuse, to ensure their behaviour is addressed and to prevent reoffending.

The contract is supervised by the YOS and the contract and its terms and conditions are reviewed regularly at further panel meetings to ensure progress and improvement is being made.

Community Referral Order Panels are an important way of giving the community a chance to have a say in the way young people make amends for the harm they have caused, while also giving them positive help to prevent further offending.

Cllr John David, Cabinet Member for Communities, explained: “There is often a misconception that young offenders are treated too leniently in Rhondda Cynon Taf and that in the communities they affect, the victims targeted by them have no say in making things better for the future.

“However, these Community Referral Order Panels are an extremely important process for us as they allow us to work directly with young people and their victims to put in place the necessary reparations so amends can be made, and also a plan of action for the future to prevent re-offending.

“All those who volunteer to be panel members come from a Rhondda Cynon Taf Community, so they will be working on behalf of residents who have been affected in one way or another by the issues of youth offending.”

Volunteers must be over the age of 18 and a resident in Rhondda Cynon Taf. All applicants will be subject to a check with the Criminal Records Bureau. Panel meetings are held in Aberdare, Ferndale and Upper Boat and all efforts are made to ensure they are arranged around the commitments of the volunteers,

Training sessions have been organised for Nov 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29 and those who wish to be volunteers need to attend all six sessions.

For more information, contact Liz Jones on 01443 827300


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