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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Youth Justice Board's Budget Reduced by 45% since 2010/11

The Youth Justice Board has released their Corporate Plan and Business Plan which can be found HERE. The Youth Justice Board is a public body whose members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice. The main responsibilities are to oversee the youth justice system in England and Wales, work with others to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18, and to ensure that custody for young people is safe, secure, and addresses the causes of their offending behavior. Visit their website HERE

The YJB has announced in their 2014-2017 Corporate and Business plan that they will be focusing on reducing reoffending of young people by improving resettlement strategies for young people who are released from custody, increasing educational opportunities while in custody, ensuring young people are placed at the secure estates that best suit them, and by creating the secure college pathfinder to be built in spring 2017. More information about the secure college can be found HERE.

In addition to working closely with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Secretary of State for Justice, the YJB also works with the Home Office. Their mission with the Home Office is to 'prevent anti-social behavior and youth crime, including youth violence and support the delivery of the cross-departmental Ending Gang and Serious Youth Violence strategy and related work to prevent the sexual exploitation of girls'. This is undertaken even though the Home Office has withdrawn all financial support to the YJB this year.

In addition to working with the Home Office, the YJB also works with:
  • Young Offenders - to get their opinion on youth justice and youth offending.
  • The Department of Health - to ensure there are mental health and substance misuse services available to young people in the youth justice system.
  • Department of Education - to ensure education services meet the needs of children and young people.
  • Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) - to support YOT objectives and also make sure YOTs are evaluated and performing to high standards.
  • Secure Accommodation Providers - such as the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), local authorities and private sectors.
  • Voluntary Sectors - with around 6,000 volunteers to support initiatives such as restorative justice, act as appropriate adults for young people in custody, mentors, in prevention or education schemes and with families. If you are interested in volunteering, click HERE
  • Adacemic Community - to ensure that advice and guidance is based upon the latest UK and international research.
The main objectives in their Business plan for 2014/15 are as follows:
  1. Improvement in the delivery of the youth justice system in the community.
  2. To create an under-18 secure estate that better meets the needs of young people.
  3. To make structural and process improvements that support a better youth justice system.
  4. Make sure young people are placed efficiently in the most appropriate establishment.
  5. The safety and well-being of children and young people in the youth justice system is assured.
  6. Practitioners have access to the best advice and support, and use this in practice.
  7. The YJB is seen as an effective and efficient public body.
Needless to say, the YJB has a lot on their plate over the next year. However, their report has indicated that by the end of 2014/15, they will have 'delivered cumulative savings of £525m, with a budget now £210m (45%) less than the 2010/11 baseline'.

This is the breakdown of expenses and savings made:

The YJB is now solely funded by the MoJ following 'the transfer of the Home Office prevention funding from the YJB to police and crime commissioners'. <--- This is another topic for another day...   

One finding based on recent Youth Justice statistics is that there has been a decrease in the number of First Time Entrants (FTEs) into youth custody. This was seen as a result of the positive work of the YJB, which I am sure some of it was. However, in their business plan, the YJB openly admits that in order to deal with the financial challenges stated above, they have incorporated a strategy which is to: 'Maximise savings from having fewer young people in custody by decommissioning beds in the under-18 secure estate'. Well...if you have less money and there are less spaces available in custody for young offenders, then obviously there will be a reduction in the number of FTEs. Is this reduction really an outcome of best practice, or is it simply the outcome of a reduced budget?

This isn't to take away from the hard work that the YJB does to help prevent offending and re-offending. Instead, it is a means to provide a clearer picture of what is really going on and to help us understand that while we are being told that more is being done to help young people in England and Wales, the government is actually spending LESS money on young people at risk of offending and re-offending. It is also important to consider whether or not the government is perhaps embellishing the results of their youth offending statistics by taking credit for the reduction in FTEs, when in reality it is very likely the result of budget cuts and fewer available spaces in youth custody.

A. Neaverson

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