04/26/2012 02:35 EDT | Updated 06/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Children's advocate urges more work to keep youth out of criminal justice system

REGINA - Saskatchewan's children's advocate says urgent action is needed to help keep kids out of the criminal justice system.

Bob Pringle says Saskatchewan already has more young people locked up than most provinces.

Pringle notes in his annual report that Saskatchewan has the third highest rate of young offenders in the system with 182 youth in custody on any given day.

He says more young people will be locked up because of changes to federal crime legislation that call for harsher penalties.

The children's advocate says what authorities really need to do is get tough on the root causes of crime.

He says there needs to be a poverty reduction strategy as well as more mental health and addiction services for young people.