EARLIER this month, Kenton Knight, a 14-year-old from Swindon, made national headlines after he was jailed for breaching his anti-social behaviour injunction.

Kenton will now spend Christmas behind bars after causing significant alarm and distress in his community.

This case highlights a wider debate around the criminalisation of children and when should support be given to these young people to prevent this outcome.

We were all young once and undoubtedly pushed boundaries or defied our parents.

However, the question of how we as a society deal with this behaviour, particularly when the crimes become more serious, is something which requires careful consideration.

Here at Wiltshire Police we work hard with partner agencies, such as the Youth Offending Teams (YOTs), schools and the local authorities, to make sure we have a joined up, holistic approach to dealing with these issues.

We have introduced a Youth Restorative Intervention Panel which looks for more effective alternative outcomes for children that are first time offenders. We focus on the children we are most concerned about – those young people who have potentially being exploited or abused and are moving towards becoming the perpetrators of abuse.

We do this through a Vulnerable Adolescent’s Contextual Safeguarding panel and we are shortly rolling out an Early Intervention Unit which uses our staff to support children at risk of criminality or indeed victimisation.

We are not their parents, we are not social workers, nor should we have to take on these roles.

But, we have to act. We have to break the cycle of criminality and exploitation amongst the youngest in our society.

We cannot do this alone and need everyone to play a part.