In response to the Scottish Government's new youth justice framework aimed at preventing offending by young people, it is important to stress that investment in highly targeted and effective programmes is essential to help young people who are not in education, employment or training (Neet) - those most at risk of entering a life of crime - gain the key skills to find work or move into education.
At The Prince's Trust, for example, seven out of 10 of those engaging in our programmes go on to education, employment or training. And our "xlerate with xl" clubs, aimed at 14 to 16-year-olds who are underachievers, poor attendees or at risk of exclusion, see over 90 per cent of those stay in education or go into employment and training.
This clearly represents considerable value for money, given the costs of social exclusion which, according to our Cost of Exclusion report, produced in conjunction with the Royal Bank of Scotland last year, amounts to over pound;92 million each year due to the cost of crime alone.
With one in five of Scotland's young people classed as being in the Neet group, one of the highest rates in the developed world, this is a tremendous waste of individual human potential and it is the voluntary sector, working in conjunction with the Scottish Government and Scotland's local authorities, which will be the key to addressing this challenge.
The reward is worth it. With research estimating the cost of a single person in this group at pound;52,000 during his or her lifetime, and considerably more for those who drift into crime and anti-social behaviour, it makes simple economic sense to tackle this now, rather than store up future social problems and costs.
Geraldine Gammell, director, The Prince's Trust Scotland.