Police chiefs have defended their decision to give a ‘robust telling off’ to a Rotherham boy found with a knife and truncheon in his schoolbag.
The boy was one of six teens spoken to by police officers last weekend and warned ‘about the consequences of anti-social behaviour’ following incidents in Greasbrough and Kimberworth.
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Their parents attended the meetings and plans were put in place ‘to deter them from any further acts’.
One of the youths was a boy who left his schoolbag, which contained a knife and truncheon, on a bus.
South Yorkshire Police said the offenders ‘were given an extremely robust telling off’ and threatened with referral to other agencies.
PCSO Paul Newman of Rotherham Central Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “We will take very firm action with offenders who persist to blight our communities. We enjoy fantastic working relationships with our Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council colleagues, local schools and communities and we act upon reports made to the police.
“It is not just police powers. Such behaviour may also threaten offender’s tenancy if it continues.”
But the decision not to take harsher action against the boy found with weapons in his schoolbag has been criticised by South Yorkshire residents.
Liam Garrity posted: “Robust telling off for going equipped to commit murder. Nice to see they were shown the full extent of the law. Knife crime is on the up, I wonder why.”
Richard Booth added: “Now I know I'll only get a telling off, I might consider carrying weapons myself. Absolutely no deterrent whatsoever.”
In a warning to South Yorkshire Police, Brian Gleadless posted: “People who carry knives and guns are usually the kind of people who completely ignore anything the police say to them.
“Behind your backs that offender will have almost howled their head off laughing at your ‘telling off’ words.
“If the offender eventually kills someone, you will be has much responsible for the person's death as the offender because you let the offender roam our streets looking for someone to stab, after you had given them your robust telling off.”
But in response to the criticism, South Yorkshire Police said: “We understand all of your comments of concerns.
“We can and do make arrests and seek prosecutions but in some cases we will look to go beyond punishment and seek intervention.
“Some of those mentioned and in particular the young person with the bag with weapons will be referred to the Youth Offender Team to intervene and deter him from a path of crime.
“Incidents have to be judged on a case by case basis and take considerations such as previous convictions and how they respond to the officers presence.
“In this case, the young person was very apologetic, upset, it was his first offence and he is still at school, therefore other measures other than prosecution have been taken. This offender will remain monitored.
“A different course of action may have been considered if the young person had been found with the weapons in his possession.”