Agenda item

Youth Justice Plan 2020-21

The Local Authority has a statutory duty, in consultation with named legal partners Health, Police and Probation, to publish an annual Youth Justice Plan. The Plan sets out agreed actions to help prevent youth offending and re-offending across Bath and North East Somerset.


The Director for Children & Young People introduced this report to the Panel.


She informed them that the Local Authority has a statutory duty, in consultation with named legal partners Health, Police and Probation, to publish an annual Youth Justice Plan. She added that the Plan sets out agreed actions to help prevent youth offending and reoffending across Bath and North East Somerset.


She explained that due to the current pandemic, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales has advised there is no requirement to submit the Plan to them this year and therefore no national framework for completion. She stated that the Youth Offending Service Management Board has agreed to preparation of a shorter Plan in light of this.


She stated that the Council is the lead partner in the multi-agency arrangements to prevent youth offending, working closely with Police, Probation and Health Services and that all partners have statutory responsibilities to participate in the resourcing of the Youth Offending Service and are maintaining their current level of support.


She said that as the implications of the pandemic became clear the key challenge was to maintain a statutory service whilst ensuring that young people and staff were kept safe from Covid-19.


She said that the Service took early steps to ‘RAG’-rate its statutory and voluntary caseloads in order to identify young people with the greatest likelihood of offending and/or with welfare or safeguarding need. She added that in practice, the most vulnerable young people known have continued to receive a consistent and responsive service.


She added that for most in this vulnerable group, weekly face to face appointments continued, supplemented by telephone contacts and this has meant practitioners have been able to assess and respond to the emerging needs of young people and their families as lockdown continued.


She said that the offending rate within B&NES was low, but that a number of the young people concerned have complex needs that need to be considered.


The Director for Children & Young People replied to some questions from Councillor Liz Hardman that had been submitted in advance.


Q: Referring to paragraph 7.1 of the report - Would it be possible to talk in more detail about disproportionality so we can have a better understanding of it, please and how it manifests itself within the youth justice system?


A: There is an over-representation of young people from dual/mixed heritage backgrounds and this has been a long-standing issue and our exploration of this is ongoing. Sally Churchyard is a member of the LCJB Lammy Sub-Group which reports in the new year and there will be specific actions recommended for all criminal justice agencies and others, focused on young people’s experience and on the staffing as we are not a diverse staff group.


Q: Referring to Page 13 of the Plan, a table at the bottom of the page states that ‘Improvement is required in Transitions’.  Please could you explain what is meant here by Transitions and how it is going to be improved? 


A: This relates to all transitions but most specifically to those of young people from the Youth Offending Service to the National Probation Service (NPS) when they turn 18. We are working closely with the NPS to look at how we support young people from a very child-focused, multi-disciplinary team to a very adult-focused service. We are also planning some follow up on outcomes as we fear that a number of these young people end up receiving custodial sentences within a couple of years which is very regrettable and we want to consider whether there is any more we can do to prevent this.


Q: Referring to Page 14 of the Plan - More serious use offending and exploitation of young people – What is the impact of County Lines?


A: It is not entirely clear what is happening re County Lines under Covid-19 but some of our young people are still being exploited and we are seeing quite a lot of serious offending at present. Through the violence reduction unit, we now have an operational meeting with Police and a number of agencies – NPS is about to join it too – looking at individuals and networks to seek assurance about assessments and interventions and strengthen the support and vigilance.


Q: Referring again to Page 14 of the Plan - Increase in looked after children offending – Is there an issue here that we need to be aware of?


A: We are just completing a protocol focused on preventing unnecessary criminalisation of looked after children. Numbers are very low but these children in the justice system face some of the greatest difficulties and are always our priority.


The Panel RESOLVED to endorse the Youth Justice Plan 2020-21 in advance of its consideration by Cabinet and Full Council.


Supporting documents: