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Agenda Item No. 12

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 10th September, 2014

 

Report of the Director of Social Services

 

The Youth Justice Plan 2014/15

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Scrutiny Committee about the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2014/15 (YOS).

Recommendation

1.         That the Youth Justice Plan is noted and that Members acknowledge the potential risks if core contributions to the Youth Offending Service (YOS) from key agencies continue to reduce.

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 YOS and to ensure that Members can exercise oversight of this key area of work for the Council.

Background

2.         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 placed a duty on the Local Authority and its statutory partners to make payment towards the expenditure incurred in providing youth justice services. 

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 coordinated 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 dictated by the YJB and must address the following areas:-

·           structure and governance;

·           resources and value for money;

·           partnership arrangements; and

·           risks to future delivery.

7.         The Plan must also demonstrate how the activities being undertaken can be considered as developing good practice 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

8.         The Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2014/15 is attached at Appendix 1.

9.         The success of the YOT in reducing or diverting young people out of the Youth Justice System has meant that those now entering the system present with more complex and/or acute needs.  The increasing complexity of YOS service users has been recognised by the Youth Justice Board.  Work is currently taking place nationally to enhance both the quality of assessments and interventions delivered to young people to effect change.  By introducing new models of working, Youth Justice Services are attempting to take the next step in breaking the cycle of offending and re-offending by young people which can result in periods of custody and young people moving through the system to become prolific adult offenders.  The success of preventative services has demonstrated that it is more cost effective and beneficial to individuals and society if we work in partnership to tackle the causes of offending and re-offending.

10.      At a strategic level, the YOS Management Board will continue to engage all partners in highlighting the need for YOS resource commitment to be maintained, despite the reduction in numbers of young people; and to facilitate young people’s access to the mainstream services that will prevent and/or reduce their offending. 

11.      Outlined within the Youth Justice Plan in Section 2 are the operational activities the YOS is planning to undertake during the next 12 months.  i.e. reviewing all its current systems, training managers and staff in readiness for the introduction of the new assessment model, introducing specialist tools i.e. screening for speech, language and communication difficulties.  The changes are designed to ensure that staff are competent and capable of making effective risk management and safeguarding decisions and exercising the flexibilities and freedoms outlined in revised Nationals Standards 2013.

12.      The YOS expects to face considerable challenges in delivering these changes when all agencies are faced with financial constraints and competing pressures.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

13.      Scrutiny Committee will be aware that it is not possible to guarantee sufficient contributions to the YOS budget long-term because of its reliance on contributions from partner organisations and annual grants from various sources.  Attached at Appendix 2 is the current staff structure.  Members are asked to note that the report highlights t a number of financial risks associated with delivery of the service as a result of statutory partners reducing their staffing contributions to the YOS. 

14.      For example, as outlined on Page 5 of the Plan, the Vale YOS Specialist Nurse post became vacant during 2013/14.  During discussions between the LHB and the YOS in both Cardiff and Vale regarding the changing needs of YOS clients, the UH removed the nursing post in the Vale YOS and extended the Cardiff post from 4 days to 5 to provide health cover to both teams.  This has resulted in a reduction of the health provision available, rather than extending the range of health provision to include either psychology or mental health services as requested.  The Chair of the YOS Management Board and the Director of Cardiff Children's Services are planning to meet with the UHB to seek a resolution to this issue. There are similar issues regarding the secondment of a Probation Officer to the YOT.

15.      The Local Authority is the largest contributor to the YOS and it is likely to be facing additional demands as a result of decisions by central government to devolve a number of activities previously funded by the Ministry of Justice such as the cost of youth remands, the transfer of responsibility to the YOS for unpaid work and the potential devolution of Attendance Centres next year.  The impact of these changes cannot be quantified at this stage.

16.      There is a costed plan attached at Appendix 3 which describes how YJB funding will be used to undertake some of the actions identified within the Plan; the remainder due to be met within existing financial resources.  As the YOS has been informed of the reduced contributions only recently, the full impact is yet to be quantified.   In an effort to offset reductions to the budget, the service will continue to apply for grants that assist it in achieving improved performance.

17.      A breakdown of the YOS budget for 2014/15 is attached at Appendix 4.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

19.      The YOS is a statutory service as required by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.  It is a highly regulated, non-devolved service overseen by the Ministry of Justice via the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales.

Crime and Disorder Implications

20.      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)

21.      Actions to address equalities issues have been taken into account in producing the Youth Justice Plan.

Corporate/Service Objectives

22.      A safe and secure environment is one of the key aims of the Corporate Plan.  The key service objectives for the YOS are to prevent offending and re-offending and reduce the use of custody in relation to young people.

Policy Framework and Budget

23.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

24.      The YOS Management Board s approved the Plan  at their meeting in June.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

25.      Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers

Youth Justice Board Good Practice Grant (Wales), Terms and Conditions of Youth Justice Good Practice Grant 2013 - 2014.  Annex A - Guidance Notes to Youth Offending Teams on Providing a "Costed Plan".

Contact Officer

Paula Barnett, YOS Manager

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Members of the Youth Offending Service Management Board

Head of Children and Young People Services

Assistant Team Manager, Youth Offending Service

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

 

 

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