Letter to the Chairman submitted by Bob
Ashford, Head of Youth Justice Strategy, Youth Justice Board (YJB)
Further to the evidence I gave to your Committee
on 23 June 2008 I would like to provide you with some additional
information and clarification on several points that I raised.
For ease of reference I have included the question number that
my comments refer to.
National Protocols (Q320)
I mentioned that YJB is working with the Department
for Children, Schools and Families to develop good practice guidelines
for local authorities.
Working alongside colleagues in both DCSF and the
Joint Youth Justice Unit, YJB is developing national case responsibility
protocols which will incorporate issues surrounding looked after
children. In developing this work, YJB has been liaising with
local authorities to identify examples of good practice and existing
working agreements between youth offending teams (YOTs), children's
services, police and residential homes to address, amongst others,
the issues of managing challenging behaviour and out of area placements.
YJB has also commissioned research into working
protocols between YOTs and children's services and which will,
therefore, incorporate children in the care system. The research
will consider, amongst other issues, the impact of area agreements
between local partners on reducing the criminalisation of looked
after children. YJB is aware of a number of local authorities
piloting restorative approaches in residential care homes based
on the model of restorative justice in the youth justice system.
Initial reports from residential homes in Salford in particular
show promising results, with interim evaluations expected later
in the year.
YJB funding of social workers in YOIs (Q334)
I said at the evidence session that I believed
that the date that current funding has been secured until is 2009-10.
To clarify, the position is that the current funding arrangements
are secured until the end of this financial year 2008-09, not
2009-10. However, there continues to be active discussions with
DCSF and ADCS to seek future funding arrangements.
Numbers of looked after children in the youth
justice system (Q338)
The latest figures for 2006-07 show a total
of 147,790 young people committed one or more offence resulting
in a pre-court or court disposal. Data on looked after children
who are in contact with the youth justice system is collected
by YOTs on an individual basis. This information is then passed
to children's services for their records. While the information
has been returned to the YJB centrally, because of concerns about
the overall quality and consistency of the data from YOTs the
YJB has not used or published the data.
Whilst there is no definitive data set for the
proportion of young people in the youth justice system with looked-after
status, the YJB is developing a new Management Information System
(MIS), currently being piloted with ten YOTs, which will provide
for information to be sent at case level. Whilst still in development,
YJB hopes this new method of recording will enable data on the
care status of children and young people known to YOTs to be collected
from the financial period 2009-10 onwards.
While the data needs to be treated with some
caution as it is now relatively old and there were some concerns
about the quality of the completion of the assessment profiles,
research undertaken on the youth justice assessment tool, Asset,
gives an indication of the current and previous care status of
young people in the youth justice system on court orders. The
relevant extract from the research report is copied below. Since
this research was undertaken, new sections have been added to
the Asset assessment tool to help clarify the young person's eligibility
for services based on their care history and their current care
This section asks for information on both current
and previous care experiences. Table 2.2.3 shows the frequency
of answers for the whole sample. Eighteen percent of the sample
had been accommodated by agreement with parents at some point
and 10% were currently (or had previously been) placed on the
child protection register.
Table 2.2.3: Care History
| Accommodated by voluntary agreement with parents
|Subject to care order||2,685
|Remand to LA accommodation||2,657
|Name placed on the child protection register
|Any other contact with social services||2,748
|Social Services involvement with siblings
The research can be viewed on the YJB website; http://www.yjb.gov.uk/Publications/Resources/Downloads/ASSETReport2003.pdf
The Committee may also be interested to know that the previous
Department for Education and Skills collected Outcome Indicators
for Looked-after Children, published annually between 2001 and
2006. This data included an indicator on offending behaviour of
looked-after children (indicator PAF C18) and showed that throughout
the period 2000-05, the percentage of children in care aged 10
and over who were cautioned or convicted of an offence during
the previous year remained steady at approximately 10%, three
times the national average for all children at that age. The data
can be accessed at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/VOL/index.shtml
Risk assessment and suitable accommodation (Q377)
There will always be risk assessments that need to be undertaken
when accommodation is being sought for a young person, and where
a young person has come out of custody they may have greater resettlement
needs and pose higher risks. These risks need to be managed and
supported housing providers need to consider a range of factors,
for example whether the young person will be able to address their
needs through the housing being considered and whether there are
any risks that would need to be managed in terms of other young
people who are already being accommodated at the site.
YOTs can work with local authorities and housing providers
to improve their understanding of the needs of young people. A
good example of this can be found in Wiltshire, where the YOT
helped a supported housing provider improve its eviction protocols
to prevent young people being evicted without any follow-on accommodation
to go to.
In terms of the specific query, the situation may be due
to the greater accessibility of bed and breakfasts and the general
shortage of suitable accommodation (due in part to decreased numbers
of supported housing and funding difficulties).
I would be happy to provide the Committee with further details
about any aspect of our work that may be helpful.
DK = Don't know. Back