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The Scottish Government has pledged an extra £1.6m to prevent young people being drawn into crime.

The funding will be given to councils over the next two years to strengthen youth justice services, including extending some of these up to the age of 21, and up to 26 for care-experienced young people.

Young people at risk of becoming drawn into serious offending will receive more co-ordinated support and early intervention using the ‘whole system approach’.

The whole system approach involves partners from across education, social work, police and the third sector working together to intervene early and prevent offending.

This approach to youth justice has contributed to an 82 per cent reduction in children being referred to the children’s reporter on offence grounds since 2006-7 and a 78 per cent fall in the number of under 18-year-olds being prosecuted in courts during the same period.

The number of young people in custody has reduced by 66 per cent over the past decade.

However, some practitioners have raised concerns that if funding and specialist skills are not maintained, these gains may start to reverse.

An extra £800,000 per year in 2018/19 and 2019/20 will now be put into re-energising and extending the whole system approach.

The priorities for this will be improving support for children up to the age of 18 and extending support up to 21, where appropriate, and up to 26 for care-experienced young people.

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