Are you doing things which could get you into trouble with the law? Have you been in trouble already? Is someone else on the wrong side of the law and it's affecting you? Criminal behaviour is serious stuff.

If you've got yourself mixed up in criminal behaviour, sooner or later it (and the law) will catch up with you.

What's your story?

 

Are you the perpetrator?(the person doing the criminal act). Being young is no excuse. Being in a gang makes it easier to get involved in stuff which you might not dare do on your own. Peer pressure might make you think it's ok if everyone else is doing it or that you'll be in more trouble for not joining in than if you get caught. Don't bank on it. Find out how to resist the gangs, the peer pressure and the bullying. Be your own person and do the right thing - for your own sake.

There is an old saying that the devil makes work for idle hands.

In other words too much time and nothing to do easily leads to trouble. Bunking off school gives you more time on your hands to get into trouble. If you're getting ideas about illegal stuff because you can't stand school, get some tips on how to make it easier to bear while you're still supposed to be in education. If you can't find anything to do with your spare time other than hang around or look for trouble, get some ideas on things to do and how to get involved in courses, youth clubs, sports, arts, and other stuff which you might actually enjoy and which might not cost a fortune - or anything at all. Try volunteering in your spare time, you might be surprised how rewarding it can be to do something good for someone else. If you get more to your life, you won't have the same time or inclination to get into trouble.

What's against the law anyway?

If you work part or full time, don't think that nicking stuff from your boss is ok - it's theft, just as if you were a shoplifter. If you handle the cash and think your boss won't miss a bit here or there, don't be so sure. If you fiddle your hours or anything else and you get caught doing any of these things, not only will you get branded a criminal but it doesn't look good for your next job. And if you were the owner, is that how you would want your employees to treat your business?

If you want to know more, Fearless is a site where you can access non-judgemental information and advice about crime and criminality. They don't mess about and tell you in words and videos what the facts are about all kinds of things which could get you into trouble if you don't know the truth, without looking like a wimp or being a creep. It's not hard or clever to get yourself into trouble.

Weapons

"There's too much guns" say Sox in this anti-gun rap.

Maybe you know people who carry knives, or maybe you've got one. Face facts - sooner or later a knife is going to get used. Watch this hard hitting video from Fearless, and take a look at drop the weapons.org

Under age?

If you do stuff which the law says you are not allowed to do because of your age, that's your choice but if you get into trouble you can hardly complain. Make sure you know what you ARE old enough to do legally. There are laws on smoking, drinking, sex, and driving, limits on what hours you can work, leave school, get married, join the army, vote, and tons of other stuff. Know your rights so you can make sensible decisions. Not knowing is no excuse. You can find out any of this online, from the Citizens Advice bureaux, Connexions, The Site, Centre 33, Brook, and all kinds of other places who know or can find out for you.

Bad habits and breaking the law

Drinking and taking drugs stops you thinking straight and makes you feel more like taking risks. If you're smoking, drinking, taking drugs or gambling the chances are you NEVER have enough money to support your habit. Tempted to steal the stuff or the money to get it? You're on a slippery slope. Get some help to beat your addiction before you get into trouble.

If you're a shopaholic and can't get enough, shoplifting can be a way of filling the gap between what you want and what you can afford but it's not clever. Theft from small shops is just mean. What if it was your family's shop? Do you think they can afford it? It might be easier to do in big shops and easier to justify, but the prices go up to allow for people like you stealing, and one of these days CCTV or a store detective will see you.

If you steal from other people, their cars, their wallets, handbags, phones, jackets, or break into their houses, just think how you would like it done to you. It doesn't matter whether people work hard for what they have or whether you consider them lucky and that they don't deserve so much, it is wrong. You are not Robin Hood! Stop before it's too late.

If you know you are chancing your luck doing something that is wrong and against the law, is this really how you want your life to be? It won't go away, but YOU might, for a short stay at Her Majesty's Pleasure. In a place for young offenders.

Don't be stupid. Don't join gangs and don't give in to peer pressure to do wrong things. What starts as a joke or maybe a little bit of bullying can end up causing a lot of trouble. Fearless can help you face the facts about whether what you are doing really is criminal behaviour. Take responsibility for your own actions and change course BEFORE you have to face the consequences. If you're breaking the law and haven't got caught yet, stop before you do and talk to someone about how to change your ways.  

Personal circumstances

If there is something in your life other than a bad habit or addiction which makes you much more likely to drift into crime, then you also need to try to get it sorted before something bad happens. If you have lost a parent, brother or sister and this means you are at risk, Winston's Wish have specific help for you. Check it out with them and don't kid yourself. The whole of What's making it rough? is there to help you find ways to sort your problems out not just so that you feel better but so that you don't get into trouble.

Are you too close for comfort to a criminal?

hoodies with carIf you need help to get away from criminal activity in your home, tell someone - Social Services may be able to help you live away from bad influences. It's not about dobbing someone in or being a grass, it's about looking out for yourself. If you're involved in stuff you want to quit, get some support and find other places to hang out, people who will encourage you not to get into trouble, and if this means a few adjustments at school or college, get some teachers on side. The Ormiston Trust and the YMCA are two other local organisations who believe in giving you every opportunity to get out and stay out of trouble.  

If someone in your family is doing time, the Ormiston Trust have a range of support for children and families affected by imprisonment including visitor centres as prisons and youth offender institutions in the east of England with bookable appointments, children's activities and staff on hand to talk to. Ormiston recognises the importance of maintaining contact and dealing with the feelings which everyone involved may have and that offenders are rehabilitated better when they have support and a good relationship with their families - for everyone's sake. If you are feeling angry or confused because a parent or older sibling is inside, get in touch with Ormiston and see if they can help you.

Are you a witness or bystander?

If you see something really bad or dangerous happening, or you know something which makes you think something has been planned, you can report it anonymously if you feel at risk if  you are identified. There's a big difference between being a grass and ignoring something you know you shouldn't. Fearless makes it possible to report anything about a crime or a criminal completely anonymously. You can fill in the online report form on their website or call Crimestoppers free on 0800 555 111 at any time. Either way they are not interested in who you are, just in what information you can give them. If you've been witness to a crime and it has upset you, you are worried about reporting it or about going to court as a witness, check out AreYouOK? which is Victim Support's website for young people who have been the victim of or witness to a crime. They explain all your options and support you in whatever you choose-including going to the police or to court with you.

Don't make excuses for serious crimes. How would you like your house burgled or your car nicked? If it was your dad's shop, would you ignore your mates shoplifting there? Would you watch someone mug your own grandmother? What if your sister got raped or your brother knifed? Would you want someone to stand back and let it happen to you or someone you care about? If you are worried about what you know or saw talk to someone. You might just save a life - at least, from being ruined by crime.

Are you a victim of crime?

If you're the victim of criminal behaviour, Victim Support are there for you. See AreYouOK?. There are schemes to support you through court and practical matters as well as dealing with your emotional needs if you need counselling.You may be offered some kind of reparation (a way to pay you back or make it right) from the person who committed the crime. If you feel strong enough and generous enough this may a good way for you to see that they are only human after all and for them to feel the impact of having hurt another person with a name and face.

 If it involves rape or sexual assault the process of helping you can begin at your local Sexual Assault and Rape Centre (SARC) where they know all about how to support victims. GTRT's pages on rape or sexual assualt, being abused, domestic violence, bullying and discrimination all have details of organisations who will support you if you have suffered any of these, and if you are in danger of being forced to marry, suffer honour abuse, female genital mutilation or being trafficked- effectively treated as a slave- these are also crimes which you can read about and find help on Cultural Differences.

Are you an ex-offender?

If you didn't wise up soon enough and the law caught up with you, it's not too late to learn. If you've done time and want to go straight, there is help for you too.   

 

The YMCA for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have a "No Cracks" project which aims to reduce the number of young people who reoffend when they leave Youth Offending Institutions. Following release from a YOI young people aged between 17 and 23, looking to resettle in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough, can take advantage of the services provided by No Cracks. They may also be able to help you with housing.  You an also get help locally from the Cambs Youth Offending Service.

Cambridgeshire Youth Offending Service

The youth offending service works closely with young people aged between 10 and 17 who have offended or are at risk of offending. This team, made up of different professionals, will look at how best to prevent further offending for each young person and guide them through the different processes involved in court appearances, etc. This service works closely with parents and other agencies involved with children and young people. For further information, contact the team leader on 01223 718223 (covers Cambridge, Huntingdon and Fenland).

The organisations which help victims generally don't help offenders and you need a specialist service. You can read what the gov.uk site says about being a young offender and some of the ways they may try to help you go straight afterwards. You can also get advice and some help from the following

Centrepoint www.centrepoint.org.uk 
Connexions www.youthoria.org

The important thing is that you make a fresh start and put it behind you as best you can, learn from it - and not just not to get caught next time.

The page was last updated on 02 July 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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