Key decisions on youth justice reform, including the future of the Youth Justice Board and devolved custody budgets, will be unveiled in the government’s autumn green paper.
Justice minister Crispin Blunt told Community Care his department was looking at “all possible solutions”.
“I am not in a position to say what final decisions will be yet, but we will definitely be looking into the devolution of custody budgets,” Blunt said. “There are a number of strengths in this approach. It is good for local authorities to be able to regulate their outcomes.”
When asked about the future of the Youth Justice Board, Blunt said all arm’s-length bodies were being reviewed, including the YJB. “All these decisions will become clear when we present our green paper to parliament,” he added.
Blunt – who gave details of the government’s vision for criminal justice reform in his first public speech this morning – said the coalition would be brave in its decision-making and would not bow to populist agendas set by tabloid newspapers.
The high vacancy rate of social work posts in YOIs was a “classic symptom of the system not working properly”, Blunt told Community Care.
He wanted to empower frontline workers to make decisions about what works best in practice, adding that the coalition was moving decisively towards evidenced-based policy.
“Social workers need to decide whether they think they should be based in YOIs,” he said. “If having more social workers based in YOIs will result in better case management, better post-release planning and better outcomes then we should make this happen.”
But the government will not be setting targets on how to achieve reforms. “I am not in the business of mandating performance targets and ways of delivering outcomes,” Blunt said, adding: “The days of targets are over.”