Preventing young people from reoffending and reducing the use of custodial sentences have been highlighted in this year’s Youth Justice plan for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole as well as Dorset.
Councillors will be asked to approve the pan-Dorset annual report at Cabinet on 12 July 2019 before it goes to Full Council later in the month.
The service is measured against three national performing indicators which include, reoffending and the use of custodial sentences both of which are performing well.
The report notes that for the third indicator, there has been a decline in performance in reducing the rate of young people entering the justice system for the first time. Renewed efforts will take place as a priority to develop alternative ‘diversion’ options with Dorset Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Councillor Sandra Moore, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, BCP Council, said: “Whilst it is good news that the Council and its partners are performing well in two of three important areas of the youth justice system, it is clear that more needs to be done to prevent our young people entering the system for the first time and I’m confident that with refocused efforts we can further support young people and improve performance in this area. We remain fully committed to helping local young people to make positive changes, to keep them safe, to keep other people in the community safe, and to repair the harm caused to victims.”
David Webb, Service Manager, Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service, said: “Young people who enter the youth justice system for the first time will usually receive a youth caution, the lowest level of justice. However, we want to do all we can to reduce the numbers even reaching this point by working closely with the police to look at ways to best deal with offending young people. Quite often a young person will not go on to reoffend and their behaviour can be as the result of things happening in a child’s life and so it’s important we look at approaches that avoid unnecessary or premature criminalisation of children.”
“We currently use restorative justice, putting in place additional support for a young person, support to schools to manage behaviour and taking a multi-agency approach to offending children in care which has seen a reduction in police call outs. More work is needed, and we are looking at best practice from other areas of the country to assess what other approaches would work here.”
The Youth Justice Plan provides information on the resourcing, structure, governance, partnership arrangements and performance of the Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service. The Plan also describes the national and local youth justice context for 2019/20, identifies risks to the delivery of youth justice outcomes and sets our priorities for this year.