It’s not about the offending!

A new approach to youth justice...

This week the Youth Justice Board published it’s annual stats report.

There’s good news again – fewer kids in prison, and fewer in the system generally.

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Bram Janssens

But we still have a re-offending rate of 37.9% – pretty much the same as last year (and still a good bit higher than it was 10 years ago!)

Here’s how we might fix it…

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YOIs Need More Staff, not Less…

© Community Care

The marked reduction in the number of young people entering the youth justice system in recent years has been well documented.

There have been some quite stark figures to illustrate this….

For example:

Overall there were 137,335 proven offences by young people in 2011/12, down 22 per cent from 2010/11 and down 47 per cent since 2001/02.

Where does this leave youth justice?…

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Green Paper Consultation Session in Cardiff…


Around 60 professionals gathered in Cardiff’s Maldron Hotel today to take part in the joint Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board consultation exercise on the government’s green paper, Transforming Youth Custody.

Presentations outlined the current figures and trends in youth custody and the government’s vision to place education at the heart of the youth secure estate.  Among the areas discussed were: tailoring education to the custodial setting; meeting the wider needs of young people; improving transitions between custody and community; and improving outcomes.

As in all public service settings currently, the backdrop for the proposed changes is one of austerity and the need to ensure value for money.  In a notoriously expensive part of the public sector, this is no small challenge!

© Jonny Matthew 2013

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MoJ Green Paper Consultation – Transforming Youth Custody…

Green paper

The Ministry of Justice has announced its intention to change the thrust of the secure estate to concentrate much more on education.  It has published a Green Paper, “Transforming Youth Custody”, laying out its plans.  The consultation exercise is seeking views on how best to implement the proposals; it closes on the 30 April 2013. Click the logo above for the paper& consultation document.

© Jonny Matthew 2013

Barnardo’s Studying Girls Who Sexually Abuse Others…


Today the BBC website published news of a study being undertaken by Barnardo’s Cymru Taith Service.  The Service, which provides assessment and interventions for children and young people aged 8-18 with sexual behaviour problems, has secured funding from the Big Lottery Fund to research how the problem effect girls specifically.

Previous research has primarily focussed on work with adult male offenders; however, in recent years studies have been conducted into adolescent males and, more recently, adult women who offend sexually.  To date, however, girls have been left out.  The Taith study hopes to contribute to future assessment and treatment paradigms and to influence policy concerning this important but minority group.

© Jonny Matthew 2013

A Gaping HOLE in the WHOLE System Approach…?


As anticipated in my previous post, the make up of the new Criminal Justice Board (CJB) is missing vital ingredients – anyone speaking for offender needs and perspectives.

After well over 20 years of working with young offenders, it’s clear to me that whilst some seem to be “hardened” and resistant to change, many would welcome more help to turn things around, put things right and get on track towards a crime-free life.

Even a cursory read of the various aims and mission statements of the organisations sitting on the CRB would reveal that their aims are exactly the same – to reduce offending, particularly re-offending.  So we’re all agreed: less crime is a good thing.

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New Criminal Justice Board – Inaugural Meeting…


I’ve just received my usual daily update from the MoJ ( a great service, by the way!) and read the news of the inaugural meeting of the Criminal Justice Board (CJB).

On reading the aims of the Board, my initial reaction was that, despite the usually tiresome language of government based announcements, the focus of the Board sounded quite noble.  Then I looked again, the Board aims to ensure that the Criminal Justice System (CJS)…

  • reduces crime
  • reduces re-offending
  • punishes offenders
  • protects the public
  • makes reparation
  • improves public confidence and
  • ensures that the system is fair and just

As I said, all very noble – at least on the face of it. No mention of meeting the needs of offenders though.  No concern for mediating previous injustices, or ensuring proportionality in sentencing, or promoting the development of increasingly safe custodial settings, or redressing the fact that disproportionately higher numbers of poor people, black people and those with mental health problems find themselves in custody… I could go on.

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Youth Justice Statistics for 2011-12 published…


The Youth Justice Board, Home Office and Ministry of Justice have now published the Youth Justice statistical returns for the last 12 month period.

These are available for all to view.  The executive summary is here, though the full text is also free to view here. There are a number of other documents, including the tables to go with the stats report, as well as a glossary.  The figures for the previous four years are also there for comparative purposes – all accessible on the Ministry of Justice website, here.

© Jonny Matthew 2013