PARTNERSHIPS OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY BOARD Swansea Youth Offending Service This presentation sets out the nature of the YOS partnership, its relationship with government and its achievements in reducing youth crime in Swansea since establishment in April 2000
Youth Offending Teams (YOT) were established in 2000 as part of the reform of the youth justice system carried through in the Crime & Disorder Act 1998.
During the mid 1990’s there was all party concern that the youth justice system was ineffective and in need of radical reform.
The Audit Commission report “Misspent Youth” portrayed an inconsistent process with ‘justice by geography’ dominating outcomes and youth crime increasing in volume and seriousness.
Critically agencies were perceived to be ’unco-ordinated’.
The reforms in 2000 centred on:-
The creation of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales as a central co-ordinating non-departmental public body. Its functions being to advise Ministers of policy needs; establish an inspectorate function for YOT’s; to monitor the performance of the youth justice system; to disburse grants.
The establishment of Youth Offending Teams (Services) across England and Wales.
YOT’s were envisaged as part of a triangular process that would reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
Community Safety Partnership
Youth Offending Teams Local Actions Teams
Youth Offending Teams
Established as statutory multi-agency partnerships in Local Authority areas where Chief Executives have responsibility for Education and Social Services.
Responsibility for the resourcing of the YOT is placed directly with the Chief Executive of the Local Authority, together with the Chief Officers of Police, Health & Probation who must form a Steering Group/Management Board.
Each of the statutory partners is required to contribute at least one member of staff from its professional base.
THE PRINCIPAL DUTY OF THE YOT/YOS IS TO PREVENT OFFENDING BY CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
This is to be established by:-
Swift administration of justice
Confronting Children and Young People with the consequences of offending behaviour
Provision of a range of sentencing options to enable responses which are proportionate to the seriousness and persistence of the offending behaviour
Encouraging parental responsibility
Helping Children and Young People to tackle associated problems and develop personal responsibility
Working corporately with all partner agencies within the Crime & Disorder Partnership to promote crime prevention and public safety
Promoting and participating in a strategic approach to ensure social inclusion and opportunity for participation in education, training and employment
By providing services without discrimination and with full regard to the cultural, religious and linguistic needs of a multi-cultural society
A Changing Policy Field
In 2000 the YOT Management Board set a vision for Swansea based on a prevention led strategy.
Welsh Assembly Government had published “Extending Entitlement” as its youth policy lead based on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
U.K. Government was embarking on its anti-social behaviour strategy with an “ASBO first” policy.
The YJB concern was the level of custodial sentencing. The YOS has had to hold a balance between being a criminal justice agency and a child welfare agency with responsibility for safeguarding and risk management.
Inevitably the conflicts in these different areas present some interesting discussions.
How Have We Done?
Between 2000 and 2010 for the under 18 in Swansea.
Youth crime reports down 75% from 2000+ to 500
Vehicle theft reports reduced from 200 to 10
Domestic burglary from over 50 to 12
Remands to custody and L.A. from over 60 to 2
Custodial sentences from over 70 to 5
Defined persistent offenders from 200 to 15
Where Does This Take Us?
These reductions in offence totals, seriousness of offending and level of persistence have enabled the YOS to move resources from ‘heavy end’ to ‘early intervention and prevention’.
Swansea Youth Bureau
In April 2009 we implemented the Youth Bureau with South Wales Police. Now we are able to respond to all young people arrested by undertaking an assessment of the young person and their offending.
All victims of crime are identified and contacted. Where appropriate they are engaged in Restorative Interventions.
Critically parents are engaged in taking responsibility for their children and their behaviour rather than a statutory intervention. The introduction of the Bureau process is showing significant benefits. The two week Bail period enables time to develop restorative intervention.
Parents report a strong sense of ownership over the plan when attending for the Bureau Panel meeting.
Attendance is close to 100% at the Cautioning Clinic.
Re-offending rates are substantially reduced. The Restorative Intervention which is imposed as a first resort in most cases has a re-offending rate of less than 5% at present – more time is needed to make full analysis of effectiveness.
So To Do
YOS prevention staff are engaged with South Wales Police in five schools providing early intervention to prevent offending and anti-social behaviour, improve school attendance and consequently outcomes.
Much has been achieved by tackling PYO’s and developing prevention strategies simultaneously.
Maintaining a clear and consistent approach has enabled young people to understand how the system works and to believe that ‘it is fair’.
Concentration on the fundamental responsibility of the parent rather than the state at first resort has been a clear and continuous characteristic.
This has only been possible by broad based inter agency working and a shared agenda.
There are many lessons learnt that can aid the PPO and Joint Office dialogue. YOS has dev eloped into a strong identity which has exceeded the sum of its parts.
The statutory demands around victims, parents, ASB reduction, Safeguarding, Risk Management, Information and Data Protection, Substance Misuse and Social and Economic Exclusion mean we still have a great deal to deliver which lead to improved victim reassurance and confidence.
The young people are reviewed to screen for problem with education, employment or training; drugs and alcohol; mental health; accommodation and family difficulties.