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Tagging for the teen tearaways

ELECTRONIC tags are being brought in for young criminals who constantly break the law.

ELECTRONIC tags are being brought in for young criminals who constantly break the law.

And the first youth in Huddersfield likely to be tagged will appear before the town's magistrates next week.

Tagging is part of an Intensive Surveillance and Supervision Scheme set up in Kirklees and Calderdale.

Offenders have to wear a tag on their ankle. It sets off an alarm if they break a curfew.

A computerised system allows police to check that the youths are at home when they are supposed to be.

One 15-year-old boy from Calderdale has already been tagged.

He was one of a notorious ``gang of eight" who stole mobile phones and cash from other schoolchildren in Halifax.

About 50 young offenders, aged between 10 and 17, are expected to be tagged each year in Kirklees and Calderdale.

Offenders will be tagged for three months and also receive intensive supervision from youth justice workers.

They will receive at least 25 hours a week of intensive education, training and monitoring, including in evenings and at weekends.

The offenders will have a further three months of less intensive supervision, including time spent with volunteer mentors.

If they break their court order they can be sent straight to prison.

Jackie Key, the scheme's manager in Kirklees and Calderdale, said: "It deals with all aspects of their lives and is very intensive. Tagging is just one part of it. Not all youngsters will be given tags."

The scheme will be used for persistent young offenders, who have already received community and custodial sentences and have committed at least four crimes in the last 12 months.

"It really is end of the line stuff," said Ms Key. "Most young offenders have extremely chaotic lifestyles.

"They may be homeless or have unstable housing situations, mental health problems and a lack of education.

"We try and put some structure back into their lives."

The average age of young offenders on the scheme is expected to be just under 16.

Many would be moving out of home and living independently or in hostels, said Ms Key.

People in the community will be asked to befriend the young offenders and act as good role models.

The Government has brought the scheme in across the UK to help persistent young offenders break their cycle of crime.

It has provided £1m for the Kirklees and Calderdale scheme, which runs until June, 2004.

A pilot scheme in Rotherham, led by Ms Key, cut crime among tagged youngsters by 68%.


Doug Thomson
Huddersfield Town correspondent
Chris Roberts
Huddersfield Giants correspondent
Louise Cooper
Crime correspondent
Nick Lavigueur
Health Correspondent
Joanne Douglas
Local Government Correspondent
Linda Whitwam
Education Correspondent
Henryk Zientek
Business Correspondent
Martin Shaw
Mirfield Correspondent