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August 11, 2008 9:28 PM

Liberal Democrats in Newcastle have welcomed proposals made by the party's Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne MP to tackle youth crime.

The plans aim to deter crime and get young people involved in positive activities that benefit local communities.

They include:

:: The creation of a Youth Volunteer Force, to engage with young people, involve them in community projects and give them skills to benefit them in later life;

:: Establish Community Justice Panels across the country, where offenders admit their guilt to the community and agree on a Positive Behaviour Order as a course of action;

:: Create a dedicated PCSO youth officer within every Safer Neighbourhood Team to identify and work with teenagers most at risk of offending;

:: 10,000 more police on the streets by scrapping the ID cards scheme;

:: Intelligence-led stop and search and 'hot spot policing' targeted at gun and knife crime;

:: Restorative justice programs to be run in every community, specifically targeted at early intervention with widespread use in schools and care homes.

Ron Beadle, Parliamentary Spokesman for Newcastle North, said: "These proposals could potentially go a long way to reduce youth crime.

"By having more police and by focusing on crime hotspots, we will be able to deter crime more effectively from happening.

"But we also need to give young people positive alternatives to do. Too often they get into trouble because there is nothing for them to do.

"The Youth Volunteer Force will be a great way to get young people involved in activities that benefit themselves and the area where they live.

"I am also keen to ensure that those who do break the law or cause disturbances or vandalism have to pay back the community they have wronged.

"That is why restorative justice is important. It will mean that those convicted of offences will have to work on cleaning up vandalism or on projects that benefit communities as part of their punishment.

"Residents of Newcastle often tell me of their worries about youth crime. I believe that the proposals the Liberal Democrats have put forward will go a long way to addressing those concerns."