Agenda item

Youth Justice Plan 2019 - 2020

To review the draft Youth Justice Plan 2019/20 at appendix a, and agree for the plan to be considered by full council.


The cabinet member children and families introduced the report. The head of service at West Mercia Youth Offending Service highlighted the following key points:

·        The plan had been prepared and adopted by the Youth Justice Management Board in May 2019, it now required endorsement by the four councils in the West Mercia area;

·        The plan had been prepared in accordance with government guidance and outlined key performance data and actions planned to be taken during the current financial year;

·        The previous system dealing with first time entrants met statutory guidance but allowed for an initial youth caution to be issued without this being part of a joint decision-making process between the police and youth justice service, it was felt that a lot of young people receiving youth cautions could be diverted through an informal disposal process where their needs would be addressed and services provided without giving the young person a criminal record;

·        All decision making would now come through a joint panel which included colleagues from other agencies such as the early help services of the council, the panel would look at the nature and severity of the offence alongside the needs of the young person.


The chair of the children and young people scrutiny committee noted that the actual numbers were small but the way they were required to be reported skewed the statistics. The scrutiny committee received each annual plan but found the process frustrating as much of the action had already happened. The action plan had been scrutinised and endorsed. More recent statistics had been shared with the committee, which showed an improved picture and the committee had requested that in future the latest available statistics were shared as part of the process.


It was reported that the latest available figures for 18/19 showed 43 first time entrants compared with 76 in the previous year. The rate of reoffending within 12 months for the cohort October 16 – September 17 was 30.5% in Herefordshire compared with a national rate of 38.9%. This was a significant reduction on the previous Herefordshire figure of 44.4%.  


Group leaders welcomed the decrease in numbers but noted that it was difficult to highlight trends from the available data with the small numbers involved. It might be worthwhile to focus on early help in relation to first time offenders and it would be helpful if the report could say why there was a general reduction in the trend.


The director for children and families explained that the board was in the second year of a three-year approach and that there had been recent improvements in operational matters that enabled the local service to have access to council systems to share information in the interests of children and young people.


The cabinet member children and families commented that she was heartend to hear that numbers were moving in the right direction and that intervention was in place to support young people who had contact with the youth justice system.


It was agreed that:


The Youth Justice Plan 2019/20 (appendix a) be recommended for approval by full council.

Supporting documents: