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The key is early intervention

It is deeply disturbing to note the increased number of school exclusions, now at a record level (your report last week).

Such exclusions are preventable but require political will to address them, with greater investment in early intervention and alternative learning programmes, which are individually tailored and targeted to the needs of those at risk. This will prevent them moving into a life of unemployment and potentially into the criminal system.

The cost of incarcerating a young offender in an institution such as Polmont, for example, is over pound;30,000 a year, and does not account for the economic impact of crime on society, estimated at over pound;92 million a year. The cost of putting someone through a Trust early intervention programme, such as "xlerate with xl", which has a success rate of over 90 per cent, is pound;500.

The Prince's Trust aims to continue the momentum achieved by early intervention programmes which deliver results for this vulnerable group and create lasting benefits for the economy of Scotland. By tackling today those young people who have the potential to become excluded tomorrow, we can go some way towards preventing many drifting on to the fringes of society.

Geraldine Gammell, director, The Prince's Trust Scotland.

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