Councils should be financiallyencouraged to fund schemes to keep children out of custody such as remand fostering, the Barnardo’s chief executive told the conference.
Martin Narey, who used to be chief of the prison service, questioned why councils would take on the costs of diversionary schemes. “If young people go to prison, it doesn’t cost local authorities anything,” he said.
In a session on the “British obsession with custody”, Narey forecast little change in the way young offenders were treated as long as the Youth Justice Board remained part of the Home Office. The conference was also told youth justice services had a patchy relationship with schools, leaving children at greater risk of offending.
Rob Newman, the YJB’s head of policy for education and training, said the increasing devolution of power and budgets to schools had hampered youth offending teams that work with them.
He blamed a performance culture in schools based on academic achievement rather than inclusion.