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Second chance for offenders

Some of the toughest teenage offenders can be turned away from persistent crime by intensive support, a study of the pioneering Freagarrach project in central Scotland has concluded. Researchers from Lancaster University say the number of offences committed by those on the project was cut by between 20 and 50 per cent.

It was not unusual two years after they left for many to face charges but their chances of a long-term criminal career were reduced, they state.

The Barnardos-led project, based in Alloa and Polmont, worked with 106 young people over fiveyears. Most had an average 18 charges against them in the year before they voluntarily joined the project. They were aged 14 to 16 and virtually all had been charged with dishonesty, vandalism and violence. Substance abuse problems were common.

Each young person had three face-to-face contacts each week with project staff to confront their offending and draw up alternatives, including targeted education programmes and anti-drugs strategies.

The reseachers say the approach of project staff was vital in countering previously negative attitudes

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