County aim­ing to re­duce high youth re­of­fend­ing rates

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - JASMINE RAPSON jasmine.rapson@reach­plc.com Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

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At a meet­ing of Bucks County Coun­cil (BCC) on Thurs­day Septem­ber 20, cabi­net mem­ber for chil­dren’s ser­vices, War­ren Whyte, was quizzed on the Youth Jus­tice Strate­gic Plan for 2018 to 2019.

A re­port pub­lished by the Bucks Youth Of­fend­ing Ser­vice (YOS) says it has faced a “chal­leng­ing” 12 months in terms of per­for­mance, de­spite an ar­ray of “ex­cep­tional re­sults” in re­cent years.

The pro­por­tion of young peo­ple re­of­fend­ing “fluc­tu­ated con­sid­er­ably” in Bucks be­tween 2014 and 2016 and has now risen to 42.7 per cent, ex­ceed­ing the na­tional and Thames Val­ley av­er­ages.

The plan for the next year will aim to re­duce re­of­fend­ing rates, as well as the num­ber of first-time of­fend­ers and the use of cus­to­dial sen­tences, ac­cord­ing to Cllr Whyte.

He said: “What is also im­por­tant is the plan to be proac­tive. It is not just about re­act­ing to youth of­fend­ing.

“We try to pre­vent and re-di­rect peo­ple’s in­ten­tions. That is not only with po­ten­tial new en­trants to the sys­tem, but also to re­duce re­of­fend­ing.

“We in­ter­act with the youth and try to get them on the right path, and then for some rea­son they re­of­fend again.

“That is some­thing the of­fend­ing ser­vice is keen to work harder on, be­cause re­peat of­fend­ing is not good for the child and is not good for so­ci­ety.

“The other part of proac­tive work is work­ing with schools to try to high­light some of the is­sues of bad de­ci­sion mak­ing and the im­pact on their life but also on po­ten­tial vic­tims’ lives.”

The YOS is a multi-agency ser­vice made up of so­cial work­ers, po­lice, pro­ba­tion of­fi­cers and staff with health and ed­u­ca­tion back­grounds.

Lib Dem coun­cil­lor for Ayles­bury South West, Nik­nam Hus­sain, raised con­cerns over fund­ing, af­ter the re­port stated the YOS would not be able to “re­spond to un­ex­pected fi­nan­cial de­mands”.

How­ever, while the YOS will need to work within its £1.5 mil­lion bud­get, Cllr Whyte as­sured coun­cil­lors col­lab­o­ra­tive work­ing with dif­fer­ent part­ners should re­duce fund­ing pres­sures.

He added: “The bud­get is made up of a mix­ture of both the county coun­cil as the key fun­der but also an­other num­ber of agen­cies.

“That does mean there is a fixed bud­get for the year of £1.5m and, as with any county coun­cil ser­vice, we have to work within those bud­gets that have been as­signed to us.

“One of the ways that I am pleased the Youth Of­fend­ing Ser­vice is evolv­ing is much closer links with chil­dren’s ser­vices it­self and I would ex­pect that to al­le­vi­ate some of the is­sues that you are rais­ing.”

Coun­cil­lors sup­ported the ac­tion plan.

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