Comment: Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system
Commenting on the publication of Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system, Dave Hill, President of ADCS, said:
“We’ve made huge progress in reducing the numbers entering the youth justice system but too many children and young people go on to reoffend after serving a custodial sentence. In order to effectively change behaviours the focus of sentences must move away from punishment towards rehabilitation and prevention of further offending. Positively, Charlie Taylor’s new report recommends a move in this direction with greater emphasis on the use of restorative approaches, education and an improved and better integrated health offer for children and young people in conflict with the law. Education and training are absolutely critical to reducing reoffending rates of those in custody and open the door to opportunities such as steady employment and training.
“Children and young people who commit a crime are treated very differently to other vulnerable groups, their offending behaviours should not blind us to underlying needs and trauma such as maltreatment and family dysfunction. The Taylor review recognises the complexity of this issue and places the needs of children at the heart of future responses. For too long the youth justice system has been based on a version of the adult system. The cohort of children who commit persistent or serious offences have complex needs and they require a carefully considered and coordinated response if the root causes of offending are to be addressed, including poor mental and physical health, family dysfunction and low educational attainment. Our focus must be on safeguarding and securing the very best outcomes for those in our care and the creation of a Youth Justice Commissioner, as well as Children’s Panels, will help to ensure that the system is truly child-focussed.
“The report also recognises the need for criminal courts to do more to tailor the way they operate to the needs of children and suggests that, wherever possible, custody must truly be the option of last resort and youth offending should be dealt with informally outside court via the use of Children’s Panels. These panels will investigate the causes of the child’s behaviour, including any health, welfare and education issues, and put in place a rigorous Plan that will tackle the factors associated with the offending and give victims and communities assurance that the behaviour is being addressed.
“ADCS looks forward to working together with the MoJ and DfE on how we can make these recommendations a reality.”
Commenting on the government’s response to Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system, Dave Hill, President of ADCS, said:
“The investment in improving safety in the youth justice system by reducing violence and driving up standards in these settings is most welcome. As is the move towards placing education and health at the heart of youth justice. However, whilst the launch of two secure schools is a step in the right direction, it is far from the network of smaller, locally placed schools recommended by Charlie Taylor in his review and will lead to children and young people being placed further away from home making it difficult for them to maintain family relationships which is hugely important to their health and wellbeing whilst in custody and of course to helping them resettle back into their communities.”
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