Althea Efunshile defended the government’s decision to keep youth
justice under the remit of the Home Office rather than transfer
responsibility to the Department for Education and Skills.
The director of the safeguarding children and supporting families
group at the DfES said concerns had been raised during the
consultation on the green paper Every Child Matters about youth
justice developing separately from wider children’s services.
Although she acknowledged that reforms to the youth justice system
had been set out in a separate document, Youth Justice – The Next
Steps, she argued that it was published alongside Every Child
Matters and was “part of the same family”.
One of the DfES’s priorities was to “work closely with the Youth
Justice Board and the Home Office to ensure youth justice does not
stand in isolation with regard to reforms in the Children Bill”,
She added that it was “critical” that youth offending teams (Yots)
and children’s trusts worked together, although she accepted that
there needed to be local flexibility.
Yots could work in partnership with the trusts as part of the
governance structure, or they could remain separate from trusts but
align plans and ensure integrated and complementary working
practices, she said.
However, it was certainly the wish of children’s minister Margaret
Hodge that Yots would be “part of trusts”, she added, even if the
government had not prescribed as much.