Charlie Taylor to lead review
Readers will be aware that Justice Secretary Michael Gove recently (11 September 2015) announced a review of the Youth Justice system.
He acknowledged the “significant and welcome reduction in the number of young people entering the youth justice system” but noted that little progress has been made in reducing reoffending, with 67 per cent of young people leaving custody reoffending within a year.
Mr Gove appointed Charlie Taylor to lead the review, whom he knows well from his time as Education Secretary. Charlie is the former Chief Executive of the National College of Teaching and Leadership, the former head teacher of an “outstanding” school for children with complex behavioural, emotional and social difficulties, and an expert in managing young people’s behaviour.
Terms of reference
The formal terms of reference set out the purpose of the review:
- The nature and characteristics of offending by young people aged 10-17 and the arrangements in place to prevent it;
- How effectively the youth justice system and its partners operate in responding to offending by children and young people, preventing further offending, protecting the public and repairing harm to victims and communities, and rehabilitating young offenders; and
- Whether the leadership, governance, delivery structures and performance management of the youth justice system is effective in preventing offending and reoffending, and in achieving value for money.
The terms of reference set out the key areas of focus for the review:
- The actions and responsibilities of local authorities (including children’s services, social services, education and housing), schools and other education providers, health services (including Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services and substance misuse services), youth offending teams, probation services, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and the police and other partners in preventing children and young people from offending;
- The response of the police, prosecutors and youth offending teams to crime committed by children and young people, including the sanctions and support available out of court and how these are used;
- The delivery models for detaining young people remanded or sentenced to custody and for supervising and rehabilitating young offenders in the community. This includes the interventions and support provided by these services and the coordination and integration between custodial and community youth offending services, and the interaction with wider services for children and young people. In respect of custody, this also includes the arrangements to safeguard young people, to reduce violence and gang-related activity, and to manage behaviour; and
- The leadership and governance of the youth justice system – including the roles and responsibilities of Government departments, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales and local authorities – and the arrangements in place to monitor and improve its performance and cost-effectiveness.
The review specifically excludes two key issues:
- The age of criminal responsibility and
- The way young people are dealt with in the criminal courts or the youth sentencing framework.
The review is scheduled to report in the summer of 2016.
The review has been met with some scepticism among seasoned justice commentators such as Rob Allen who are surprised at the exclusions and wonder if the review is an excuse to finally go through with the abolition of the Youth Justice Board.
The next few months will be a good test of Mr Gove’s pledge to build a new justice system based on the evidence.