Editorial Comment: Another lost opportunity

There are sensible proposals in the Youth Crime Action Plan, not least more funding for badly under-resourced resettlement work with children leaving custody. But anyone who hoped that children’s secretary Ed Balls and his newish, allegedly welfare-oriented department would come up with something genuinely radical will be disappointed.

Public fears over knife crime and sceptical children’s services directors probably put paid to the most radical proposal of all: handing the £279m child custody budget to councils, removing a perverse financial incentive to hurry the most difficult youngsters into the prison system.

Given that 70% of young offenders have had contact with social services, such a move would have made sense with the right investment in community-based prevention and punishment. As it is, the action plan is another opportunity lost.

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