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SNP challenges McConnell on youth crime figures

The First Minister put up a stout defence of his record last week during testy exchanges at Holyrood with Nicola Sturgeon, deputy SNP leader.

Ms Sturgeon had called on Jack McConnell to "stop talking and start doing something" in relation to youth crime.

The two clashed over the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration report, but focused entirely on the SNP's claim that the Executive's policies on youth crime were failing; there was little reference to the much larger group of non-offending youngsters who come before children's panels.

Ms Sturgeon asked: "When will the First Minister stop blustering and face up to the facts? Youth offending is up by 13 per cent. Even on the most generous interpretation, serious and persistent youth offending is up by 5 per cent.

"The overall number of referrals to children's panels is at an all-time high. One in 20 kids in Scotland now ends up before a children's panel.

"Is it not the case that the Government's policies for tackling youth crime are manifestly failing?"

Mr McConnell retorted: "We have put in place the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act, and that was opposed by the Scottish National Party. We have taken action on parenting, and that was opposed by the Scottish National Party. There has been action on fast-track hearings, youth courts, more social workers and more people working in the children's hearings system.

"All that would not have happened if the Scottish National Party had been in Government."

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