Police chiefs have expressed concern over the number of young men in Perth and Kinross committing violence.
Chief superintendent Phil Davison’s latest police report has revealed that ten to 17-year-olds account for around a quarter of the common assaults committed by men in the region.
CS Davison presented his latest quarterly report to Perth and Kinross Council’s housing and communities committee when it met on Monday.
In his July 1 to September 30 report, he wrote: “The majority of offenders are male (72%) with young males between 18 and 44 the most frequent offenders.
“Worryingly, younger males aged between ten and 17 account for around one quarter of the male perpetrators, confirming the need for a continued commitment to work with schools and young people.”
Perth City Centre councillor Peter Barrett raised concern over the statistics and asked the police chiefs what was being done to address the matter.
CS Davison said: “There is the worry around younger males.”
He told the committee local officers were involved in national initiatives working closely with partners in schools and public campaigns around the dangers of violence and what it can lead to.
Chief inspector Graham Binnie added: “I am conscious we are seeing slightly more young people – particularly young men – involved in violent crime.
“We are aware of impact on young people’s mental health. I am aware of the increased – probably anecdotal – use of increased possession and use of drugs and alcohol on young people.
“And we are aware of the impact of Covid on education.
“I had made a commitment here to engage our resources with young people. We did have Operation Stung in place, which continues, and we are probably at the last phase in that operation in trying to understand how we interact and engage better with young people to improve their futures.
“I am at a position where I need to put my foot on the ball a little bit and seek some wider assistance from partners.”
He reached out to partners to “think strategically” on how to focus on these issues “a little bit more”.
CI Binnie voiced his commitment to young people and to working with partners and getting their help with these issues.
PKC’s chief social work officer Jacquie Pepper told councillors of plans to continue with the youth engagement team who have been out on Perth and Kinross streets talking to youngsters.
Ms Pepper said: “We plan to continue the youth engagement team for a further year.
“We recognise the success of that in managing the situations that occur. The youth work team are engaging with young people in a proactive and meaningful way which means we can divert them into other activities.”
She said one of the successes of the team was being able to divert young people to mental health support at an early stage.
Cllr Barrett called for a further report with a “deeper dive” on this issue at the next meeting.
Vice convener, Conservative councillor Chris Ahern, agreed to seek to do that.
By local democracy reporter Kathryn Anderson