43. Memorandum submitted by
the Youth Justice Board (YJB)
The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales
(YJB) welcomes the inquiry and the opportunity to submit written
evidence. This note provides background on the role of the YJB,
relevant research and data and an outline of the approach undertaken
by the YJB. The YJB would be pleased to provide any further information
that would be of assistance to the Committee.
The role of the YJB is to oversee the youth
justice system in England and Wales. We work to help prevent offending
and reoffending by children and young people under the age of
18, and to help ensure that custody for them is safe, secure,
and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour. We base
our work on research and evidence, wherever possible.
advise the Home Secretary on the
operation of, and standards for, the youth justice system;
monitor the performance of the youth
purchase places for, and place, children
and young people remanded or sentenced to custody;
identify and promote effective practice;
make grants to local authorities
or other bodies to support the development of effective practice;
commission research and publish information.
The YJB does not directly manage either secure
establishments or local youth offending teams (YOTs).
In order to help to understand whether there
are significant differences in patterns of behaviour between different
ethnic groups and whether there are differences in experiences
of the youth justice system between different ethnic groups the
YJB has developed data sources and commissioned research.
Youth Offending Team data
The YJB collects data from YOTs detailing the
number of offences and youth justice disposals by ethnicity.
This information is published annually by the YJB
and is used also to inform the collation of the Home Office's
published statistics on race and the criminal justice system.
We understand that key findings from the data
provided by YOTs and included in the Race and Criminal Justice
System publications has been set out in the submission to
the Committee by the Home Office. To avoid unnecessary duplication,
some key points only are highlighted here:
Black young offenders accounted for
6% of offences within the youth justice system in 2004-05. In
total Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups accounted for 11.9%
of all youth justice offences recorded by YOTs. As well as general
overrepresentation, Black young offenders are significantly overrepresented
for certain offences, most notably robbery offences and drugs
offences. These patterns are similar to those since 2001.
Black young offenders are significantly
less likely to be given unconditional bail compared to White young
offenders and Black young offenders are more likely to be remanded
in custody compared to White young offenders. These differences
are found to be statistically significant.
Whereas Black young offenders accounted
for 6% of total offences in 2004-05 they received 11.6% of total
Differences or discrimination?
To establish a better understanding of how minority
ethnic young people are treated at key stages of the youth justice
system, compared to white young people, the YJB commissioned an
independent research study.
The focus of the research was to investigate whether differences
in outcomes related to ethnicity and gender were justifiable in
terms of case-related or other legitimate factors, or whether
there was evidence of discrimination. The challenge was to look
at outcomes for cases that might be expected to have been treated
The conclusion of the research study showed
that there were considerable variations in the extent of over-
and under-representation of different ethnic groups in relation
to the proportions in the populations served by the eight YOTs
that were the focus of the study. Also, at various points in the
decision making processes differences in outcome in the treatment
of different ethnic groups and genders were identified. While
many of the differences appeared to be accounted for by relevant
variations in the characteristics of the cases on which decisions
had been reached, this was not always established. That is to
say, there were at various points of the system differences that
were consistent with discriminatory treatment. In particular the
study highlighted the following areas of concern:
the higher rate of prosecution and
conviction of mixed-race young males;
the higher proportion of prosecutions
involving Black young males;
the greater proportion of Black and
Asian males that had been remanded in custody before sentence,
especially the greater proportion of Black males remanded whose
proceedings had not resulted in a conviction;
the slightly greater use of custody
for Asian males;
the greater use of the more restrictive
community penalties for Asian and mixed-race malesespecially
those aged between 12 and 15;
a much higher probability that a
Black male would, if convicted in a Crown Court, receive a sentence
of 12 months or more;
a greater likelihood that Black and
Asian males aged between 12 and 15 would be under supervision
for longer than 12 months if they received one of the more restrictive
type of community sentences;
a slightly greater tendency for individuals
from minority ethnic groups to have been committed to the Crown
a much greater proportion of mixed-race
females who were prosecuted; and
in general, a substantial variation
in outcomes between YOT areas.
The research presents a complex picture which
did not point to a uniform pattern of discrimination against minority
ethnic groups in general. While young Black males were identified
in relation to certain areas of potential discrimination, as noted
above, it was Asian males that were more likely to receive custodial
sentences and mixed-race males that had a higher rate of prosecution
and conviction in general.
The Audit Commission in their review of the
youth justice system in 2004
noted concern about the higher percentage of Black and mixed-race
young people receiving secure remand decisions. Noting there may
be several reasons for this and that the YJB monitored remand
decisions by ethnic origin, the Audit Commission recommended that
more information was fed back to YOTs who in turn should provide
data on their own area to the court. In addition, it was recommended
that YOTs should develop local policies on diversity among their
own staff and aim to develop good practice in working with minority
ethnic young people, especially those at high risk of custodial
Levels of offending
The fact that Black young people are overrepresented
within the youth justice system does not simply indicate a higher
level of offending in general. The relationship is complex including
the potential areas of discrimination set out above.
Self report offending surveys do not indicate
clear patterns of evidence of higher levels of offending within
different ethnic groups. While the YJB's commissioned MORI youth
survey has indicated a higher level of self report offending by
Black young people (see below), this has not been the general
conclusion from other surveys and research, notably the analysis
of the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey 2003 (OCJS)
undertaken by the Home Office.
The findings of the OCJS across age groups included:
There are differences in the extent
to which people from different ethnic groups self report their
offending with White respondents and those of mixed ethnic origin
most likely to report offending behaviour. The differences are
not fully accounted for by the different age and sex profiles
of the groups.
The patterns may reflect differences
across ethnic groups in their profile of factors known to be strongly
associated with offending. For example young males are particularly
likely to offend and there is a high proportion of young males
in the mixed ethnic origin group.
Asian and Black respondents had lower
offending rates even after age was controlled for. The rates for
serious offending in the last year showed a similar pattern with
the exception that for this category Black respondents did not
differ from the national average.
The level of offending among White
respondents was mainly driven by the pattern for young males.
White males aged from 10 to 25 were far more likely to have committed
an offence in the last year compared with young males in other
ethnic groups (28% compared with 12% to 19% for other groups.)
Fewer differences were apparent for older males and younger and
older females, though those of Asian origin were consistently
less likely to have offended.
Overall, young Asian were less likely
to commit public disturbances, graffiti and behaviour leading
to neighbour complaints than their White counterparts. This was
mainly driven by low levels among Asian females and 16 to 25 year
olds. On the whole, Black groups and those of Mixed ethnic origin
did not differ from White respondents.
"Age standardised" rates
for committing any anti-social or other problem behaviour show
that all ethnic groups were similar to the average rate.
The "multivariate model"
showed that after various "risk" factors were taken
into account, ethnic group was not independently predictive of
participation in anti-social or other problem behaviour.
Whereas the OCJS did not indicate higher offending
levels, as noted above, self report surveys by MORI commissioned
by the YJB have found that, among young people in mainstream schools,
a higher proportion of Black pupils report having committed an
offence compared with their White or Asian peers. Almost two in
five back young people (37%) reported committing a crime in the
last 12 month period compared with a quarter of white pupils (26%)
and one in five Asian pupils (20%) according to the 2004 survey.
This was a pattern also noted in the 2003 Youth Survey.
As noted, the relationship between offending
levels and ethnicity is complex. Research indicates that in general
a number of key social and personal risk factors are associated
with the onset of offending and reoffending by children and young
people. In order to inform an understanding of offending levels
by different ethnic groups consideration needs to be given to
the prevalence in different communities of the risk factors such
as low income and poor housing, disengagement from education,
availability of drugs, high turnover and lack of neighbourhood
attachment. These factors may be more or less prominent in particular
communities with different ethnic populations due to wider social
trends. It is also the case that specific types of offences can
be associated with particular social factors that can be more
likely to be clustered in particular communities. For example,
research on street crime commissioned by the YJB identified that
one factor that helped to explain borough level variations in
robbery offences was the rate of population change in an area
(and the effect on levels of social control).
Clearly a higher prevalence of the risk factors
that are associated with offending and re-offending could explain
disproportionate numbers of BME young people being arrested and
entering the youth justice system. However this could not simply
explain disproportionate outcomes at different stages within the
youth justice system, including bail and sentencing decisions.
As identified in the Differences or Discrimination research, case
history and other factors do not appear to explain all differences
The YJB is committed to working collaboratively
with Criminal Justice and Children's Service partners to improve
the youth justice system for all communities. This has included
involvement with the Office for Criminal Justice Reform on a joined
up approach to criminal justice including with the CJS race unit
and the work towards the delivery of the PSA target for BME equal
treatment in the CJS.
As set out in the previous section, the evidence
suggests that BME groups can receive different outcomes when they
are brought into the youth justice system that cannot always be
explained by differences in case characteristics. There are not
simple patterns of disproportionate outcomes but it does point
to potential discrimination.
In response to these concerns the YJB established
a new corporate objective to seek equal treatment at the local
level for comparable offences by different ethnic groups. To support
this approach YJB set a new key performance indicator for YOTs
so that: All YOTs should have an action plan in place to ensure
that any difference between the ethnic composition of offenders
in all pre-court and post-court disposals and the ethnic composition
of the local community is reduced year on year.
The work of the YJB is designed to support improvements
in practice in the youth justice system at the local level. However,
the YJB is clear that these improvements can only be achieved
within the context of the make up of each local community and
the resources and arrangements that exist in these communities.
The YJB can assist by disseminating example of good practice and
by prioritising action through our performance framework but can
not directly manage the activity at a local level.
In November 2004 the YJB began an audit and
planning process with YOTs to help develop the new action plans.
Nacro has supported the YJB on the development of YOT race action
planning processes. The YJB had issued earlier guidance (YJB and
Commission for Racial Equality Guidance for Youth Offending Teams
on achieving equality 2001) however it was decided that further
support and guidance was required following the receipt of the
research evidence outlined above.
The approach that YJB has promoted is intended
to enable YOTS with their partner agencies to assess the local
patterns of BME representation in the youth justice system and
to develop and implement local plans to increase the proportionality
of outcome and tackle any identified discrimination.
Following the audit and planning process YOTs
were asked to submit their action plans by 30 June 2005. The YJB
is monitoring the implementation of the action plans and providing
support to YOTs to develop their approaches. This will include
YJB consultancy support to YOTs that are identified to be struggling
to make progress and regional workshops planned for this year
to showcase and disseminate emerging good practice across the
youth justice system and with partner agencies.
Evaluation of YOT action plans
YJB has undertaken some work to evaluate the
race action plans prepared by YOTs.
The audits and action plans included quantitative
data on the number of offences, court remands and disposals at
the local level by ethnic classification. The qualitative aspect
looked at the following elements:
Planning and protocols.
Workforce (recruitment and selection,
retention, appraisal and exit strategy).
Training and development.
Outreach and local networks.
Monitoringworkforce and service
The majority of YOTs reported some degree of
disproportionality with regard to BME groups in the operation
of their local youth justice system. It appears that many YOTs
have used the quantitative data that they gathered through the
audit process to determine areas that would require further research
or closer ongoing monitoring.
Other findings from the initial evaluation of
the plans include:
Over a third of YOTs specifically
noted overrepresentation of Black/Black British in the youth justice
system in their area compared to the general BME population. Close
to 9% of YOTs noted significant underrepresentation of Asian/Asian
British young people.
53 YOTs reported that the number
of BME young people committing offences was too small to allow
significant conclusions to be drawn solely from the quantitative
The most commonly cited offences
for which BME groups were overrepresented were: robbery, breach
of statutory order, drug offences, violence against the person,
motoring offences. However, almost half of the YOTs identified
a need to undertake further research into offences committed by
46 YOTs noted variations in court
remands for BME populations compared to what might have been predicted
by the local population. Of most concern were variations in the
rates of remand to custody, remand to local authority accommodation
and the use of conditional bail. 17 YOTs report that they had
decided to review their remand practices and procedures including
reviewing decisions where bail is refused.
40 YOTs noted potentially significant
variations in disposals based on ethnicity.
37 YOTs said that they would develop
or refine programmes in response to the quantitative data analysis.
32 YOTs stated that they would now
share data with court user groups, courts, CPS and/or police.
63 YOTs identified the need to develop
or enhance their links with local BME groups and networks.
38 YOTs intended to improve gatekeeping
around assessment and court reports to ensure that issues of race
and diversity were being properly considered.
22 YOTs would now be examining their
programmes to ensure that they are relevant and accessible to
BME young people.
25 YOTs stated they intended to improve
monitoring of youth justice national standards, compliance, attendance
and completion rates with regards to race.
37 YOTs would in future monitor victimisation
and/or aggravated offending with regards to race.
The analysis of the YOT race action plans shows
mixed levels of development. In general race equality appears
to be being given greater priority by YOTs. However, it is not
yet clear to what extent equality issues are being uniformly prioritised
at the local level and the extent to which work is integrated
into mainstream YOT activity. As set out above, the YJB will be
monitoring the implementation of the plans and changes in outcomes
at the local level.
Targeted prevention programmes
The YJB has been central to the development
of new targeted prevention programmes aimed at working with children
and young people identified at high risk of offending and committing
anti-social behaviour. Following the 2004 Spending Review and
the Budget announcement in 2005, additional funding has been made
available to the YJB to expand these prevention programmes. This
has led to the YJB introducing a new prevention funding formula
for all YOTs. To ensure that the funding is effectively used guidance
and performance management arrangements have been put in place.
YOTs were made aware of the importance of considering the relevance
of the prevention programmes to race equality in the YJB guidance
"Preventive services must be accessible
and deliver provision to groups of children and young people and
their families who are disproportionately represented or who face
particular challenges in the criminal justice system, such as
looked-after children, those who are disabled, and those from
Black and Minority Ethnic groups".
Reviews of the plans that have been received
by the YJB from YOTs for the use of the new funding stream indicate
that while there are few schemes planned to work exclusively with
BME young people (An example of a programme that has focused specifically
on work with BME young people has been the Right Track programme
in Bristol.) there is likely to be a significant amount of attention
focused on race equality issues in particular through the delivery
of new parenting programmes but also through Youth Inclusion and
Support Panels (YISPs) and some Youth Inclusion Progammes (YIPs)
(as YIPs are neighbourhood projects some locations have a particular
emphasis on working with the BME community).
As the Home Office publication Race Quality
in Public Services (2005) identified the proportion of BME
groups working in YOTs exceeds their proportion in the general
population. However the YJB is seeking to ensure that the level
of diversity remains strong and representation is proportionate
at all levels within the system. Staff from BME groups represented
15.9% of all staff in 2004-05. This proportion is broadly reflected
also at operational manager level where 15% of operational managers
are from minority ethnic communities but not at the strategic
manager level where representation is 6%.
As part of the YJB's Human Resources and Learning
Strategy new "gateway" qualifications in youth justice
have been introduced to attract a more diverse entry into youth
justice work and YJB is collaborating with the National Probation
Service on a positive action leadership programme called Accelerate.
As the commissioner of secure estate places
for children and young people remanded or sentenced to custody
the YJB includes general requirements in relation to race equality
in the service specifications with the providers of custody. The
YJB commissions a managed service from the providers of custodial
places and seeks to ensure contract requirements are met.
The YJB Young Offender Institution (YOI) service
specification requires that:
"Governors should be committed to equality
of opportunity and the elimination of discrimination on the basis
of any relevant factors including, but not limited to, ethnicity,
sexuality, gender, intellectual ability and disability".
The Secure Children Home service specification
includes the requirement that:
"The provider will operate a young person
equality opportunity monitoring system that ensures access to
education, recreational facilities and higher levels of privilege
are not restricted to any group or individual on the basis of
any form of discrimination. By this means Providers will be able
to demonstrate the effective implementation, review and monitoring
of equal opportunity policy. The Provider should be able to demonstrate
through policy documentation and the production of monitoring
records, their capacity to use external independent arbitration
in the event of a dispute".
The privately operated Secure Training Centres
specifications include requirements in relation to equal opportunities
policy and regular monitoring of that policy and the provision
of professional translators and other translated materials when
necessary for young people.
The Juvenile Awareness Staff Programme which
has been introduced by the Prison Service and YJB for staff working
specifically with juveniles in YOIs includes some consideration
of diversity within the training modules.
Details of a young person's ethnicity are provided
to the YJB's placement team which is responsible for making the
placements to the different custodial establishments. It has to
be noted that there is limited flexibility available to the YJB
over placement options because of pressures on the number of places.
It is also the case that in making decisions about placements
a range of factors need to be taken into account including the
assessed needs of the young people remanded or sentenced to custody
and their home location. Taking this into account, the YJB has
sought to respond to requests from individual establishments to
consider transfers when the ethnic makeup of the population in
an individual establishment is considered an issue.
The YJB is aware of the need to improve its
monitoring of the secure estate in relation to ethnicity, including
the use of physical restraints and forms of separation. The YJB
is working with the custodial providers to improve data provision
and analysis as part of wider work on improved data collection
and consistency in data provision across the different custodial
The YJB has also sought to develop opportunities
in general for children and young people in the secure estate
to be able to seek support and assistance primarily through the
introduction of a new advocacy programme.
The YJB research strategy for 2006 to 2008 sets
out plans for further research projects related to race equality
to be commissioned. The first is a project to better identify
the specific needs of BME young people and young women including
exploring the practices of YOTs and the secure estate providers
currently in response to those needs. This project is due to start
this year. The second study planned is about the response of YOTs
to working with children and young people who have committed racially
motivated offences including exploring the nature and availability
of tailored interventions and to investigate the approach of practitioners
currently in working with this group of offenders. This study
is due to start next year
YJB is also involved in the longitudinal juvenile
cohort study designed to explore the effectiveness of the youth
justice system as a whole and to map the progress made by young
people at different stages of the system. This will include exploring
differences in outcomes for different groups of offenders including
In general, YJB research specifications include
requirements for samples by ethnicity. However it is not always
possible to include a sufficiently robust sample size.
Finally, the YJB is aware that the Commission
for Racial Equality and ESRC are planning a research project to
explore further the causes behind the different experiences of
the youth justice system by BME young people. The research project
is intended to build on the analysis found in the YJB commissioned
report Differences or discrimination. The YJB will be co-operating
with the research study.
229 The data provided by YOTs to the YJB is related
to the number of incidents-offences and disposals-as opposed to
the number of individuals within the system. One individual could
be responsible for a number of recorded incidents in a single
year. To address this the YJB is requiring the submission from
this year of data related specifically to the number of individuals
by ethnicity in order to measure effectively the performance indicator
set for YOTs (see below). Back
Latest edition is YJB Youth Justice Annual Statistics 2004-05. Back
Differences or discrimination? Minority ethnic young people
in the youth justice system. Martina Feilzer and Roger Hood in
consultation with Marian FitzGerald and Andrew Roddam; Youth Justice
Board 2004. Back
Audit Commission Youth Justice 2004 A review of the reformed
youth justice system. Back
The age range for the OCJS 2003 was 10-65. The number of young
people was boosted by half and in addition there was a booster
sample for minority ethnic respondents. Back
Because it has been identified that BME communities can be disproportionately
affected by the risk factors associated with juvenile offending
the YJB has set YOTs a performance indicator that does not require
an immediate or total elimination of disproportionate outcomes.
According to local demography and other factors YOTS may differ
in the rate at which proportionality can be achieved. Back