It is a sad comment on the times that a 3.8 per cent drop in reoffending rates among young offenders can be seen as an achievement. That reduction took place between 1997 and 2004, a period during which the Youth Justice Board was set up to make serious inroads into reoffending rates that were running at 75 per cent or more.
In this context 3.8 per cent doesn’t seem much, but it deserves to be called an achievement because, given the punitive nature of so much Home Office policy, the YJB and youth offending teams have clearly done this against the odds.
Huge caseloads and mountains of paperwork give Yots too little time for face-to-face work with clients, while police arrest targets and pressure to dish out antisocial behaviour orders demonise young people rather than help them avoid the criminal justice trap.
Since it is still the case that three in every four young people who enter the criminal justice system embark on a career in crime, it is scarcely believable that so many are still shown through the front door. The YJB must have unequivocal backing from the Home Office, both in word and deed. CC