Top

Top

Agenda Item No. 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee: 15th  February, 2017

 

Report of the Director of Social Services

 

The Youth Justice Plan 2016/17

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To inform Scrutiny Committee about progress made in delivering the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2016/17 (YOS).

Recommendation

  1. That the progress is noted by the Scrutiny Committee.

Reason for the Recommendation

  1. To meet the statutory requirements of grant terms and conditions provided by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) for England and Wales, to achieve continuing improvements in the performance of the Youth Offending Service (YOS) and to ensure that Members can exercise oversight of this key area of work for the Council.

Background

  1. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Section 39(1) placed a duty on each Local Authority, acting with its statutory partners (Police, Probation and Health), to establish Youth Offending Teams in their local area. Section 38(3) of the Act provide the power to the Local Authority and its statutory partners to make payment towards the expenditure incurred in providing Youth Justice Services.
  2. The YJB under section 41 (5) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 has the authority to make grants with the approval of the Secretary of State to the YOS, subject to a number of terms and conditions.. The Board has a number of functions including the obtaining of information from relevant authorities for the purpose of monitoring the operation of the Youth Justice System and provision of services and to advise the relevant Government Minister on a number of matters.
  3. Membership of the Youth Offending Team is prescribed by the legislation. It must include at least one Probation Officer, Social Worker, Police Officer, Health representative and Education representative.
  4. The purpose of the YOS is to ensure that relevant services are available across the Local Authority area; to the extent required. The YOS should be the main vehicle through which Youth Justice Services are co-ordinated and delivered. The YOS Management Board, made up of senior representatives from each of the statutory partners as outlined above, oversees the operation of the service (including the functions it undertakes and the funding arrangements). It is currently chaired by the Director of Social Services.
  5. Section 40 of the 1998 Act places a duty on the Local Authority to produce an annual Youth Justice Plan, in consultation with its statutory partners. The Plan confirms how Youth Justice Services are to be provided and funded, how the teams are established, composed and funded, what functions they are to carry out and how they will operate. The Plan is submitted to the YJB and published in accordance with directions of the Secretary of State. This duty is one of the requirements of the terms and conditions of the Youth Justice Grant.
  6. The format of the YOS Youth Justice Plan is determined by the YJB and it must address the following areas:-
  • structure and governance;
  • resources and value for money;
  • partnership arrangements; and
  • risks to future delivery.
  1. The Plan must also demonstrate how the grant is being used exclusively for the delivery of Youth Justice Services and achieving value for money. It includes performance information, which is validated quarterly and annually by the YJB. Again, this is a requirement of the terms and conditions of grant as it indicates compliance with the YJB Data Recording Guidance.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2016/17, updated to January 2017, is attached at Appendix 1.
  2. Revisions to the Plan have been designed to provide an overview of changes to governance or service delivery and to incorporate the YOS response to HM Probation Inspectorate's thematic inspection reports during 2016/17.
  3. There have been no significant changes to the structure or operational functions of the YOS, or the corporate environment within which it operates. Members will be aware that the focus of the Plan for 2016/17 is implementation of the new assessment framework Assetplus and its impact on practice. Implementation is on track with regular monitoring meetings taking place to ensure that the practice changes required are embedded.
  4. The risks the YOS continue to face are:
  •  national uncertainty about the future of Youth Justice Service; and
  • reducing grant and partner contributions.
  1. The former Minister for Justice commissioned Charlie Taylor, former Chief Executive of the National College of Teaching and Leadership, to conduct a review of the Youth Justice System during 2015. The terms of reference for the review were to examine the evidence and current practice in preventing youth crime and rehabilitating young offenders, how the system can interact more effectively with wider services for children and young people, and whether current arrangements are fit for purpose.
  2. The final report was published in December 2016. The report acknowledges the success of both the YJB and YOS in formalising partnership working and ensuring that there is a focus on children who offend as children first and offenders second. The report also acknowledges the successes achieved in the reduction in numbers of children entering the Youth Justice System and those in custody, reducing from on average 3,000 to 900.
  3. Although a great deal of success has been achieved in reducing first time entrants and the use of custody, tackling the numbers re-offending remains a priority. Many of the children within the Youth Justice System come from the most dysfunctional and chaotic families where drug and alcohol misuse, physical and emotional abuse and offending are common. The causes of childhood offending need a multi-agency response and YOS alone cannot address all the underlying issues.
  4. The report therefore recommended a reduced role for the centre and the devolution of responsibility for the Youth Justice System to Local Authorities which hold the statutory responsibility for educating and protecting children, thereby providing stronger incentives to tackle promptly and proportionately the factors which place children at risk of offending by focusing on improving their welfare, health and education.
  5. Alongside the publication of the final report, the UK Government published a response diluting the proposals outlined within the Youth Justice Review Report. It acknowledged the successes and indicated that both the YJB and Youth Offending Teams would remain but that improvements would be made to the framework within which the Youth Justice System operates.
  6. These improvements will focus on reviewing the governance and performance standards of the Youth Justice System, reviewing how Police deal with children, the operation of the Court system and the use of Youth Custody. We await advice from the UK Government in relation to the next steps.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Scrutiny Committee will be aware that it is not possible to guarantee sufficient contributions to the YOS budget in the longer-term because it relies on contributions from partner organisations and annual grants from various sources.
  2. One of the recommendations of the UK Government response to the Review is the continuation of ring fenced funding to the Youth Justice System. There was no mention of the level of this funding within the response and, to date, the YJB has not confirmed the level of grant for 2017/18.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no sustainability or climate change implications as a result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no legal implications as a result of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The work of the YOS assists in the reduction of crime and anti-social behaviour by children and young people.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no equality implications directly as a result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The work of the YOS helps the Council to achieve Well-being Outcome 1 (An inclusive and safe Vale in the Corporate Plan 2016 - 2017) and specifically Objective 2: Providing decent homes and safe communities.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The provision of YOS is a Vale wide responsibility and there are no specific implications for individual wards. The YOS Management Board approved the Plan in September 2016.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Homes and Safe Communities.

Background Papers

Youth Justice Board (YJB) YOT Grants (England and Wales), Terms and Conditions 2016 - 2017; Youth Justice Plan: YJB Practice Note for Youth Offending Partnerships 2016-17

Review of Youth Justice System in England and Wales by Charlie Taylor, December 2016

UK Government Response to Charlie Taylor's Review of the Youth Justice System, December 2016

Contact Officer

Paula Barnett, YOS Manager

Officers Consulted

Head of Children and Young People Services

Assistant Team Manager, Youth Offending Service

Practitioner Manager, Youth Offending Service

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

 

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook