Issue - meetings

Youth Justice Plan 2018-2019

Meeting: 12/10/2018 - Council (Item 28)

28 YOUTH JUSTICE PLAN 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 113 KB

To approve the Youth Justice Plan 2018/19.

Additional documents:


Council was invited to approve the Youth Justice Plan 2018/19.


The cabinet member – young people and children’s wellbeing introduced the report.


She highlighted performance in the county against the three national indicators which formed the basis for the action plan for 2018/19:

·        there had been a reduction in the number of first time entrants into the youth justice system. The actual numbers were very small, less than 0.5% of young people aged 10-17 in the county.  It was nevertheless important to work to continue to reduce this number.

·        the use of custody was also reducing and the rate was better than for West Mercia and England;

·        proportionately more young people were reoffending than in the West Mercia area as a whole but they were re-offending with less frequency.

She added that the service had been subject to an inspection at the end of 2017/18 and judged as requiring improvement overall.  Across the 12 inspection standards seven were rated good, four requiring improvement and one inadequate.  The latter was in relation to sharing information and partnership working.  This assessment on this standard applied to the whole of West Mercia. Herefordshire social care staff were working with the local youth justice team to enable access to systems to improve joint working.

The following principal comments were made in discussion:

·        A question was asked about the issues underlying priority 2.1 of the Plan (p66 of the agenda papers): “improve multi-agency engagement at high risk and decision making meetings”, as this seemed to be an ongoing issue and in particular working with the police.  The cabinet member commented that it was a case of seeking continuous improvement in collaborative working. In relation to working with the police there were some specific areas regarding the application of thresholds where improvement needed to be made.

·        In response to questions the director for children and families clarified joint working arrangements including the Youth Justice Service, the multiagency service hub and the allocation of an officer to work directly alongside the police in relation to child sexual exploitation issues. He reported that the recent Ofsted inspection had recognised the council’s service for missing children was working well.

·        In relation to knowledge of low level youth offending in communities the cabinet member commented that she clearly had to rely on information from the Children’s Safeguarding Board and the Community Safety Partnership and other similar reports.  The director undertook to share information in relation to the query raised previously at children and families scrutiny committee regarding the non-criminalisation of children under 18.

·        The cabinet member acknowledged the importance of children’s safeguarding observed that the council’s work in this area had been recognised by Ofsted and provided assurance that there was no complacency.

·        It was suggested that youth work and groups made a significant contribution to reducing crime and it was asked what support was being provided in this area.  The cabinet member commented whilst recognising the importance of youth work it was hard to quantify the extent of that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28

Meeting: 27/09/2018 - Cabinet (Item 12)

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To review the draft Youth Justice Plan 2018/19 at appendix a, and agree for the plan to be considered by full council.


The Youth Justice Plan forms part of the council’s budget and policy framework and is reserved to full council to approve.

Additional documents:


The cabinet member children and families introduced the item, supported by the head of service, West Mercia Youth Justice Service. It was highlighted that:

·         it was a requirement of national government to produce an annual Youth Justice Plan, the plan covered the whole of the West Mercia area but included  specific data on Herefordshire;

·         the report had been considered by the children and young people’s scrutiny committee and subject to the decision of cabinet would progress to full council for final approval in October 2018;

·         there had been a decrease in the number of first time entrants and while the actual number of young people offending was very small it was still important to reduce this figure;

·         the use of custodial sentences was reducing;

·         the data showed that there was a higher level of reoffending in Herefordshire than in West Mercia as a whole but that those young people who did reoffend did so with less frequency;

·         the service had been subject to a pilot join inspection at the end of 2017/18, no inspection report was published as the main purpose of the pilot was to test the new inspection methodology and framework but commentary on the inspection findings was included in the plan;

·         the service was judged as requiring improvement overall but was rated as good in seven of the 12 inspection standards, an improvement plan had been agreed to address the findings of the inspection and the actions included in the delivery plan on pages 15 to 17 of the Youth Justice Plan.


In discussion of the item it was noted:

·         that appropriate staff training was required and this was planned as part of the delivery plan;

·         that through care for young people receiving custodial sentences was generally good although there were sometimes issues with accommodation;

·         the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) were a statutory consultee on the plan as they contributed to the funding of the youth justice service.


The chair of the children and young people’s scrutiny committee gave feedback from the committee’s consideration of the draft report. She explained that the committee had questions about figures in the report which were not able to be answered on the day as representatives of partner agencies were not present. They would be invited to attend when the 2019/20 plan was scrutinised. The committee welcomed the progress that had been made in reducing first time entrants and supported the increase in the use of informal responses but expressed concern about the level of reoffending. It was noted that the committee had struggled to understand what the plan did, what it achieved and who it was aimed at. It was noted that the presentation of figures in a high level plan when actual numbers were very small was difficult.


Group leaders were invited to give the views of their group. The concerns regarding reoffending were generally shared and it was noted that as the plan was a service plan it was not a particularly engaging document.


It was agreed that:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12

Meeting: 17/09/2018 - Children and young people scrutiny committee (Item 15)

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To review the draft Youth Justice Plan 2018/19 at appendix a, and determine any recommendations to be considered by the executive.

Additional documents:


The committee considered a report which set out the draft Youth Justice Plan 2018 – 2019, for pre-scrutiny ahead of its presentation to Cabinet and full Council. The Head of Service (HOS), West Mercia Youth Justice Service (WMYJS), introduced the report and provided the presentation circulated in the supplement to the item. During the presentation the statistics relating to first time entrants (FTEs), use of custody and reoffending were provided


Councillor Bowen, Chair of the General Scrutiny Committee, commented on the response provided in the presentation to the recommendations of the committee from 2017. It was hoped that the timing of the preparation of the plan could be reconsidered to enable earlier comments and recommendations from scrutiny. It was pleasing that the evaluation of informal disposals had been undertaken and was included in the Plan and the year on year comparisons were welcomed. The ongoing impact of low numbers in Herefordshire was mentioned and the distortion of statistical comparisons. The HOS confirmed that the low numbers in Herefordshire did distort the figures but the WMYJS was moving to a method of presenting the numbers alongside the rate. 


The committee raised the issues below in the discussion that followed:


·         The purpose of the Plan was questioned and whether it was a statistics gathering exercise. The benefit to the community of the Plan was queried. The HOS explained that the Plan was a requirement of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and its contents were prescribed. It was explained that the primary aims of the Plan and the WMYJS was to reduce the level of FTEs and reoffending rates which contributed to the efforts to reduce risks to the wider public and young people.

·         There were concerns that the statistics used in the Plan presented an impression that crime and disorder in Herefordshire was at a very low level however it was felt that the reality on the ground was very different. Police intervention in petty crime was an area of frustration as very little appeared to be done about low level crime which contributed to its incidence in the county. This was felt to be particularly pronounced in anti-social behaviour.

·         There were concerns expressed that the experience of local communities did not accord with the presentation of the figures in the report. The HOS confirmed that the WMYJS management board had held discussion to attempt to understand the figures contained in the report in the context of increases in the level of recorded crime.      

·         There was concern regarding the relatively high reoffending rate and whilst it was acknowledged that the statistical numbers might be small it was still problematic in Herefordshire. The first time entrant rate was also perpetually higher than acceptable.

·         The research undertaken on the adverse childhood experiences was raised and when any outcomes from this research would be available. It was queried whether any information could be shared with the committee. The HOS explained that the first report would be available in October and this could be shared  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15