Deputy Rob Ward, who has previously raised concerns about the rising number of youth crimes in the Island, said that youth facilities could provide an outlet to help prevent antisocial behaviour.
His comments come after a group of 14- and 15-year-olds were arrested in connection with an alleged break-in and vandalism at the Off the Rails restaurant in St Brelade last week.
The alleged incident followed a string of claims of antisocial behaviour by teenagers. Last month armed police arrested four teenagers after numerous 999 calls were made about a group alleged to be carrying weapons. In February a store manager in one of SandpiperCI’s town outlets was allegedly physically assaulted by a group of young Islanders.
Deputy Ward said: ‘Incidents like these highlight the need for more facilities for children across the Island. Places like youth clubs and other recreational options can steer kids away from antisocial behaviour.
‘These facilities are just one ingredient to overcoming this type of behaviour and stopping it before it grows.’
In 2018 the States agreed, as part of the Council of Ministers’ Common Strategic Policy, that new youth facilities should be built in the north of St Helier following proposals from Deputy Ward. More than £4m was budgeted in the last Government Plan for the project. However, a facility is yet to be built.
Deputy Ward said he was ‘hopeful’ that work would start soon.
‘We need to extend the excellent work that the Youth Service already provides and give children as much opportunity as possible,’ he said.
‘Children can work alongside youth staff, who will only have a positive influence on their behaviour.’
He added: ‘Covid has had a massive impact on young people for a number of reasons.
‘They need us more than ever and we need to make sure we are putting children first by providing them with the best facilities and opportunities possible.’