Sector criticises Youth Justice Board move to Ministry of Justice


all credits: Children & Young People Now
20th May 2010

News that the Youth Justice Board (YJB) will become the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has provoked concern within the sector.

It was announced today that the MoJ will now have sole responsibility for youth justice and the Youth Justice Board. Previously, the policy area was split between the MoJ and the Department for Children, Schools and Families, now the Department for Education.

Penelope Gibbs, director of the Prison Reform Trust’s campaign to reduce child imprisonment, said she is concerned that the welfare of young offenders will not be as high on the agenda as previously.

“What is important is that the Children’s Act and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are not forgotten in the move,” she said. “They need to make a proactive effort to keep child welfare high on the agenda.”

Rob Allen, a former member of the YJB, described the change as a retrograde step. “Any effective measures to deal with youth crime require the active input of support for families, schools and social services,” he said. “The Ministry of Justice has no leverage over those.”

Chris Callender, assistant director of the Howard League for Penal Reform said there is a danger of a return to a ‘silo’ mentality. He said: “It [the change] suggests that the newly formed government views children in custody as a concern only for criminal justice agencies, and not welfare.

“Children in the criminal justice system have complex welfare needs that must be met in order to address their offending behaviour and to make our communities safer. “The MoJ must get up to speed with these issues and deliver an effective holistic approach to children in custody.”

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One thought on “Sector criticises Youth Justice Board move to Ministry of Justice

  1. The reason why it is important that the department for Children, Schools and Families/Education should also be involved in the running of the YJB is that young people who offend need to be seen as children first and offenders second.

    A child who offends never does so for no reason, and all the research shows that, sadly, in the vast majority of cases, those reasons are a result of their upbringing and environment, neither of which are their fault. This is reflected in the fact that 71% of children in custody have been involved with, or in the care of, social services before entering custody (Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, July 2010).

    The need to address underlying problems instead of just imposing a punishment on young people is evident from, for example, the fact that reconviction rates are very high for children (74% of those released from custody in 2008 reoffended within a year – Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, July 2010).

    For more free, up-to-date information on this vital issue, visit http://www.howardleague.org/publications-youngpeople/

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