Row as Doncaster youngsters at risk of turning to crime handed free activities

The public-funded white elephant The Earth Centre, has now been redeveloped and re-opened as Kingswood Dearne Valley educational facility. The Earth Centre was created by Doncaster Council for the millennium but failed as a visitor attraction, it was purchased for an 'undisclosed sum' by Kingswood last year. (Photograph by Jonathan Pow | http://rossparry.co.uk)
The public-funded white elephant The Earth Centre, has now been redeveloped and re-opened as Kingswood Dearne Valley educational facility. The Earth Centre was created by Doncaster Council for the millennium but failed as a visitor attraction, it was purchased for an 'undisclosed sum' by Kingswood last year. (Photograph by Jonathan Pow | http://rossparry.co.uk)

Youths at risk of turning to crime are to be given access to free activities in a bid to stop them from committing offences.

The plans have been introduced by the Doncaster Youth Offending Service, which is part of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Targeted Youth Support Service.

The activities will be rolled out by team EPIC, which stands for Encouraging Potential Inspiring Change.

The group, which was formed in May, will work with young people , aged 10 to 17, who are at risk of committing crime to prevent them from offending.

They will also work with those who have already committed crime to prevent them from re-offending. The plans form part of the Youth Crime Prevention Strategy, which was presented to Doncaster council’s overview and scrutiny committee yesterday.

Team EPIC will work with youngsters to get them involved with a number of activities and interventions.

Andy Hood, head of service at YOS, said: “Activities have to be low cost or no cost. We work with partners who help us. For example, we work with Kingswood Dearne Valley educational facility who let us use their facilities for free. We also run our own sports group.”

Vice chairman councillor Charlie Hogarth was unimpressed with the idea and said he was concerned.

“It sends a message that if you can’t afford to go to places like Kingswood then if you misbehave you can go for free,” he said.

But Mr Hood insisted something had to be done to help young people.

“If we do nothing then the cost of young people’s offending will be more than the cost of interventions. We have to do something to show them that they can change.”

The Kingswood education centre offers 35 outdoor activities including zipwires and watersports.

YOS hopes team EPIC will achieve a 30 per cent reduction in the number of young people entering in to the criminal justice system over the next two years.