“When thinking about the young person who tried to take my car, I wonder why he wanted to do this – breaking the law and putting himself and other’s life at risk in the so-called joyriding for a quick thrill.
“We have a section of our young people here in Northern Ireland who are perhaps not in education, employment, or training and have become disenfranchised with our society. They feel excluded and not having a stake in our society. Over the weekend, Breidge Gadd, the former chief probation officer, spoke about the successful response some years ago to joyriding in West Belfast. The probation service worked in partnership with local community groups and other statutory agencies to identify known joy-ridders and approached both the young people and those close to them to encourage them to take part in an intensive programme which was created to enable them to move away from drink and drugs and address their social exclusion and life in and out of prison. Independent research has shown that the majority of young people within this scheme did change the direction of their lives. Perhaps it is time to revamp a scheme such as this to stop this new wave of car hijacking.
“We need to be proactive in bringing our disenfranchised youth back into society. We need to resource and promote diversionary incentives. This is not just a Justice issue. This represents a responsibility all Departments have to ensure we are engaging young people and tackling youth disenfranchisement.”