Agenda Item No 5
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee: 9th November 2016
Report of the Director of Social Services
The Youth Justice Plan 2016/17
Purpose of the Report
- To inform Scrutiny Committee about the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2016/17 (YOS).
- That the Youth Justice Plan is noted by the Scrutiny Committee and that Members acknowledge the potential risks to the Youth Offending Service (YOS) if core contributions from key agencies and grants continue to reduce.
Reason for the Recommendation
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- The Vale of Glamorgan Youth Justice Plan 2016/17 is attached at Appendix 1.
- It has 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 2015/16. Delays in implementing the Assetplus assessment framework by the YJB and a number of long-term absences in the YOS mean that many of the actions contained within last year's Plan have been carried forward, as they remain current.
- There have been no significant changes to the structure or operational functions of the YOS, or the corporate environment within which it operates. Currently the greatest risks are:
- national uncertainty about the future of Youth Justice Service; and
- reducing grant and partner contributions.
- The former Minister for Justice commissioned Charlie Taylor, former Chief Executive of National College of Teaching and Leadership, to conduct a review of the Youth Justice System. 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.
- An interim report of emerging findings was published in February 2016. It focused on the youth custodial estate, especially potential devolution of greater responsibility for youth custody to local areas, regional bodies and the Welsh Government, in order to establish smaller secure schools with a focus on education.
- Although reference was made to Youth Offending Teams, the requirements of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and whether YOTs remain the best way to deliver services in the community, no clear direction has emerged in relation to the future of Youth Justice to date. Publication of the final report has been delayed, creating uncertainty regarding the future of the Youth Justice Board and Youth Offending Teams, particularly if changes are made to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and there is a move towards smaller secure schools with responsibility devolved to Local Authorities. The risk is that the expertise and professionalism which exist currently in Youth Offending Services could be lost because of uncertainty about function, structure and funding. For this reason, the new Plan focuses on future change and challenges, including the collaboration agenda, resources and value for money, partnership arrangements and risks to future delivery.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
- Scrutiny Committee will be aware that it is not possible to guarantee sufficient contributions to the YOS budget in the longer-term because its relies on contributions from partner organisations and annual grants from various sources. Attached at Appendix 2 is the current staff structure.
- There has been a reduction of 12% in the grant funding received from the Youth Justice Board for 2016/17, creating a deficit in the YOS budget which will be offset against reserves for this year.
- A review of the contribution to YOTs by the National Probation Service took place during 2015/16. The outcomes will be phased in over three years starting in 2016/17. The Vale of Glamorgan YOS will see an increase in seconded officer time, following recruitment of a replacement Probation Officer, but a reduction in cash contribution.
- As a result of the additional funding made available to Health Boards by Welsh Government to enhance mental health services to children and young people within the Youth Justice System, a range of new services, including an emotional wellbeing service, has been established. These services operate across both Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan and the YOS will use agreed referral pathways to access services for children and young people.
- During 2016/17, the YOS Police Officer retired. Although an appointment was made, the incumbent was in a protected post and unable to be released until September 2016. As part of its commitment to the YOS, South Wales Police provided some part-time cover but the budget breakdown reflects a decreased contribution shown due to the limited provision between April and September 2016.
- A breakdown of the YOS budget for 2016/17 is attached at Appendix 3.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
- There are no sustainability or climate change implications as a result of this report.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
- The Youth Justice Board 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 Youth Offending Service, 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.
Crime and Disorder Implications
- 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)
- There are no equality implications directly as a result of this report
- The work of the Youth Offending Service 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
- This is a matter for Executive decision.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
- The provision of Youth Offending Services is a Vale wide responsibility and there are no specific implications for individual wards. The YOS Management Board has approved the Plan.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
- Homes and Safe Communities.
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
Paula Barnett, YOS Manager
Head of Children and Young People Services
Assistant Team Manager, Youth Offending Service
Philip Evans, Director of Social Services