Cape Town - Crimes committed by minors at secure care centres were increasingly becoming more serious and violent, Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said on Wednesday. “The most common offences committed by children within [these facilities] are murder, common assault, housebreaking and theft, attempted murder, and rape,” he confirmed. Following a child probation services workshop held last week, the social development department said it would establish a task team within the Provincial Child Justice Forum to deal with issues affecting the “smooth” implementation of the Child Justice Act of 2008. “The aim of the workshop was to build consensus on best operating procedures with regards to the administration of justice to children who are in conflict with the law. Additionally, the workshop aimed to build better cooperation among stakeholders and discuss interventions which could deal with shared challenges in administering the act.” Fritz, in a statement, said that he had made it clear at the workshop that efforts should be aimed at diverting children away from the criminal justice system and into affirming social programmes. The department has four in-house centres for young offenders and funds two operated by NGOs.'Rehabilitation' These are not prisons, Fritz explained, therefore security and containment measures are not as restrictive. “The focus is on rehabilitation and the constructive development of the child,” he said. “We must work harder to create opportunities for children that’ll see them avoid choosing a life of crime completely, whilst simultaneously improving our coordination of services under the Child Justice Act in the best interests of the child.” Most sentenced children are in detention facilities for short periods, however, there is an increase in children serving longer periods, Fritz said. The department employed 89 probation officers and 48 assistant probation officers, who are all qualified social workers and specialists in the child justice system. Among their responsibilities is behaviour management, crime prevention, conducting pre-sentencing investigations, and the compilation and presentation of reports to courts, he explained. Stakeholders, including police, child justice NGOs, the department of justice and constitutional development as well as correctional services officials and social workers were invited to the workshop.