|Police want to crack down on juvenile crime|
| [30.08.2007, 11:08pm, Thu. GMT]|
|Faced with hundreds of repeat offenders below the age of 18, police in Norway are seeking more leeway in being able to keep these criminal kids off the streets. Norway's liberal justice system and relatively lenient incarceration practices have left most young criminals without the control that police think they need. They can cite case after case where juvenile offenders carry out serious crimes, only to be placed in child welfare homes, from which they quickly run away.Police in Oslo are appealing to government officials in charge of juvenile issues to allow child welfare workers to forcibly detain repeat offenders. Their colleagues in Bergen and Trondheim support the appeal, as does Norway's ombudsman for children.|
"We simply want to keep a small group of especially difficult children off the street," Oslo Police Chief Anstein Gjengedal told newspaper Aftenposten. He and his colleagues claim that these underage offenders are in danger of becoming hard-core career criminals, and that they drag many other children into criminal circles as well.
Reidar Hjermann, the state ombudsman for children, said that in some cases, children should be detained for their own good. "I can understand that the police are worried," he said.
An official for the government ministry in charge of children's issues (Barne- og likestillingsdepartementet, BLD) admitted that there's room for improvement in how Norway deals with its juvenile offenders.