Penal reform groups have said the government missed an opportunity to integrate youth justice within its wider Every Child Matters agenda with its restructuring of the Home Office, announced last week.
Under the plans, the Youth Justice Board will be transferred to a new Ministry of Justice from next month, which will also be responsible for prisons and probation and the current functions of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, including human rights and justice.
Antisocial behaviour, the Respect agenda, policing, immigration, asylum and the drugs strategy will remain in the Home Office.
Rehabilitation agency Nacro’s head of youth crime, Chris Stanley, said he was “happy to a point” with the YJB’s move, but would like to have seen it jointly sponsored by the Department for Education and Skills, resulting in a greater focus on young offenders’ education and welfare.
Howard League for Penal Reform director Frances Crook also said the reform was an opportunity to move the YJB to the DfES. She said: “There’s a problem at the heart of government thinking about children which is that children are always children until they do something wrong and they cease to be children and become criminals. That’s simply not good enough.”
Crook added that there had been no consultation on the plans.