Agenda item


To approve the Youth Justice Plan.


Council was asked to approve the Youth Justice Plan.


Councillor Lester, cabinet member – young people and children’s wellbeing, presented the report. 


He commented that youth offending constituted only a very few children in Herefordshire. In the year 2015/16 there were one hundred and fourteen children out of a total of sixteen thousand two hundred and sixty one (or 0.86 per cent of the youth population).  It was emphasised that any child entering the youth offending system could be described as a failing on society’s part in some way.  However, the general picture was encouraging. 


It was reported that over the last seven years the levels of offending had reduced.  Taking the offending cohort of the year ending June 2010, there were three hundred and twenty young people offending.  In the year ending June 2014, that figure had reduced to one hundred and forty three.  This was a decrease of fifty five per cent over a three year period.


The plan sought to improve service delivery and make further progress toward understanding the issues and tracking re-offending in real time.  It was noted that the principal aims and objectives of the children’s and young people plan were to give children the best possible start in life. 


The Chairman invited speakers to respond.  The following principal points were made:


·        It was noted that just over one third of young people (or 36.3%) receiving an outcome that required youth offending intervention were children in care.  In addition, in 2015, just under half (49%) of young people receiving youth offending intervention had mental health or emotional problems.  How were these issues being dealt with?


·        Reference was drawn to the recent past, where offending in the county had resulted from people being placed here from other authorities.  Had this situation changed at all?


·        It was noted that junior attendance centres had been established in Worcestershire. Questions sought clarity on whether this meant that Herefordshire youth offenders had to go to Worcestershire to access those services, or would there be a youth attendance centre in Hereford?


·        The report was welcomed for highlighting that young people felt they had a real say in their futures.  This was reflected in the high percentage of those who had sought and received help.  It was evidence that rehabilitation was leading to less re-offending.


·        Reference was drawn to the majority of youth offending in Hereford being at the top end of the age profile.  Re-offending, where it occurred, may well fall in to the adult age profile.  Reassurances were sought that those people were tracked and not aged out of the system.


Councillor Lester was invited to respond.


·        On the issue of looked after children, it was noted that in 2015/16, about sixty five individuals made up that cohort of which twelve were from Herefordshire.


·        Mental health was noted as a very important issue and a key factor bringing young people into the youth offending system. It was noted that work was underway to help address mental ill health and ensure that it stayed high up on the agenda. 


·        It was noted that other local authorities were able to place children within Herefordshire and the authority dealt with those situations when they arose.


·        Responding to the point on junior attendance centres, it was noted that given that most youth offending took place in Worcester and the direct train links from Hereford it made sense to locate those services there.  The level of demand in Hereford meant a junior attendance centre in Hereford would not be an efficient use of resources.


·        In regard to rehabilitation it was asserted that reducing re-offending was best served by fully engaging with children. It was important to note that once an offence had been committed dialogue was entered into.


·        Addressing the point about tracking youth offending into adulthood it was noted that the problem did not get aged out.  Part of the understanding of children and their rehabilitation was embedded in a good education and a wide understanding of the problems these children faced.  This in turn provided a clearer strategic view of the problems that arise.


RESOLVED:  That the youth justice plan as appended to the report be approved.

Supporting documents: