must avoid the simplistic approach to tackling youth crime currently being
adopted by the English government, the conference heard.
Irene McGugan MSP told a question time panel
discussion that it was crucial to look at the underlying causes of offending by
young people while reassuring the public that something was being done.
"We must make clear that we want safer
communities and that what we are proposing is not soft options but effective
options. I hope we never go down the route adopted in England with the sort of
high profile statements by Tony Blair and David Blunkett about what we should
be doing with young people."
In answer to a question from the audience
over whether more secure accommodation was needed, Andrew Cameron, chief
constable of central Scotland police, said the fact that some young people were
being put in prison highlighted a clear shortage of secure accommodation.
"The last thing we want is for young people to go into prisons and come
across all the influences they meet there. But the reality is there is an
increase in levels of violent crime involving youngsters."