Concern over young offenders

JP Smith File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

The City’s enforcement services, with Metro Police and Traffic Services arrested 148 people last week.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, said more than 80% of the arrests were for driving under the influence.

Ten young people were also arrested for possession of drugs, firearms and stolen property.

“It is very unsettling that, as we commemorate youth month, our Metro Police department is arresting suspects as young as 15 for very serious crimes,” he said.

Among those arrested were an 18- and 19-year-old, who were found in possession of a firearm in Bonteheuwel with an older suspect, shortly after 10pm on Saturday June 9. On Friday June 8, a 16-year-old boy was arrested in Hanover Park for drug possession, and on Tuesday June 5, two 17-year-old boys were arrested for the possession of a stolen motorcycle in Athlone.

On Tuesday June 5, a 15-year-old was arrested for possession of drugs after a whistle-blower tipped off the Metro Police K9 unit that he was selling drugs on a street corner in Hanover Park.

His stash was found hidden in a nearby electrical box.

“Incidents like these highlight the need for greater intervention for youth at risk, because a conviction or continued life of crime can have consequences that are hard to shake. We need to address issues around young people by ensuring that they remain in school; have sustainable extra-mural activities to keep them occupied; and that their home environment is one where they’re able to thrive and receive guidance. Some of these are aspects that government can and should be involved in, but a lot of what needs to be done starts in the home,” Mr Smith said.

He said the City’s Metro Police department hosted leadership and life skills programmes for thousands of young people through its youth camps, which culminated in the establishment of the Youth Cadet programme in 2013.

“In the latest camp this past weekend, 28 pupils from Manenberg High School attended a camp at the Princess Vlei Resort, with time spent on a range of activities from how to read a map to effective communication and leadership skills, the dangers of drugs and other substances and a demonstration by the Metro Police K9 unit. With the school holidays approaching, the City appeals to parents and young people to visit their local community centres and libraries where a number of programmes will be on offer to keep children occupied,” Mr Smith said.