Too many teenagers in Dungannon are receiving police cautions because of a shortage of evening activities and recreational facilities, according to a local politician.
Sinn Fein MLA Bronwyn McGahan has raised concerns after a Freedom of Information request revealed that 251 local youths have been cautioned by the police in the past four years.
Worryingly, it has been revealed that the cautions could ruin future job prospects or wreck plans to go to university.
Cautions are usually offered by police after they arrest someone for shoplifting, possession of small amounts of soft drugs and minor violent crimes.
However, many young people accept the warning without realising that it could lead to a criminal record.
In fact, cautions can show up on Criminal Records Bureau checks, allowing employers to stop candidates working with children or in health and social care. Youths caught shoplifting or taking part in drunken pranks are agreeing to sign the statements in the mistaken belief they will be wiped from databases after a few years, not realising that they remain on file.