Constable Len Norman said many young people who displayed antisocial behaviour had ‘not had the best opportunities in life’ and also agreed that proactive and preventative measures needed to be in place.
He called antisocial behaviour ‘a very difficult thing to deal with but something which is very difficult for the public to put up with – and it is something that must be tackled’.
Mr Norman was asked during this week’s States sitting by Deputy Inna Gardiner if he was looking at whether additional legislation was needed to tackle the ‘growing concern’ of teenage antisocial behaviour.
A group of 14- and 15-year-olds were arrested in connection with an alleged burglary and vandalism at the Off the Rails restaurant in St Brelade last week – the latest in a string of reports of antisocial behaviour involving teenagers.
Mr Norman confirmed he was seeking advice from law officers and the Attorney General, who he said was meeting regularly with police chief Robin Smith. The States police will make recommendations to government about ‘how to deal better with the issue’, said Mr Norman.
He added that there were options in different jurisdictions available to law-enforcement agencies and to Children’s Services.
‘We are looking at those to see if they would be useful in the Jersey context,’ Mr Norman told the Assembly.
During the sitting Deputy Geoff Southern asked the minister whether he had read a recent interview in the Guardian in which retiring Chief Constable of Merseyside police Andy Cooke said that if he were to be given funding he would spend 80% of it on cutting poverty and 20% on policing.
Mr Norman said he had not read the piece, but agreed with the principles behind it.
He added: ‘It is absolutely right that a lot of these young people who are involved in antisocial behaviour at the present time have been involved in unfortunate backgrounds and have not perhaps had the love and affection that most of us take for granted, and have not had the best opportunities in life.’
Deputy Kirsten Morel asked whether it was the government’s responsibility not to change legislation, but to ‘take proactive and preventative measures to give those young people something to do’.
Mr Norman agreed with Deputy Morel but said the move was designed to ‘make sure our legislation is fit for purpose’.
‘Let’s not pretend it is an easy fix,’ the minister added.
This week, Deputy Rob Ward raised concerns over rising youth crime and called for more youth facilities to help stop antisocial behaviour.