The future of the Youth Justice Board was already in doubt following Gordon Brown’s reorganisation of departmental responsibilities, and the YJB’s admission that it will probably fall short of most of its targets will not have helped its cause.
In many ways the YJB has been the victim of circumstance. It was never likely to staunch the flow of young people into court when police arrest targets have had exactly the opposite effect. Nor was it likely to reduce the use of youth custody when a punitive political culture and public distrust of community alternatives have brought prisons to bursting point.
But the YJB cannot blame all of its woes on this undoubted failure of joined-up government. The coroner in the case of Gareth Myatt, who died while being restrained by three secure training centre staff, has asked whether the YJB is fit to provide a safe custodial environment.
Now that the Department for Children, Schools and Families has taken shared responsibility for the YJB, it should seize the opportunity to create a more powerful advocate for coherent policymaking.
Youth board admits targets failure
Contact the author