Welsh joint strategy with Youth Justice Board to reduce youth offenders

Welsh joint strategy with Youth Justice Board to reduce youth offenders

The Welsh government, in conjunction with the Youth Justice Board, has launched a strategy to prevent young people offending and reoffending.

Children and Young People First proposes to build on the already “strong foundation” created through targetted prevention programmes and restorative methods used in previous frameworks.

Although first-time entrants (FTEs) to the youth justice system have fallen1 the strategy aims to reduce the number of youths reoffending by “ensuring children and young people grow out of crime rather than be drawn deeper into it.”

The manifesto, signed by Youth Justice Board chair Lord McNally and Lesley Griffiths, the minister for local government and Welsh government business, states: “We need to work together to help change perceptions of young people who offend and to better understand the needs of these often troubled, vulnerable young people and how their self-belief, skills and achievements can be encouraged to give them better chances in life. It is only through our combined efforts we can set about the task of responding to youth crime in a responsible, flexible and optimistic way and create a system which supports young people’s efforts to change and help to create a safer and fairer environment for everyone.”

The main focus of the strategy centres around 5 key principles:

  • A well-designed partnership approach
  • Early intervention, prevention and diversion
  • Reducing reoffending
  • Effective use of custody
  • Resettlement and reintegration at the end of a sentence

David Utting, the secretary for the Independant Commission on youth crime and antisocial behaviour supported the Welsh government’s initiative stating that young people who commit crime should be treated as “children first, offenders second”.

1   In 2012/13, 33% of FTEs to the Youth Justice System (in England and Wales) were children aged (10-14). This group showed the biggest reduction (63%) in FTEs between 2099/10 and 2012/13. Females accounted for 24% of all FTEs in 2012/13, compared to 32% in 2009/10. Since 2009/10 the number of young females entering the Youth Justice System has fallen by 67%, compared with 50% for young males.