The Youth Justice Board is likely to be disbanded within a year and its main functions transferred to the Ministry of Justice, Community Care understands.
Like all quangos, the YJB is under review and preparing to set out to ministers how it will deliver substantial savings.
One source close to the YJB told Community Care that government officials had said the YJB “does not conform to the criteria ministers are being asked to look at when reviewing their quangos”. The source also said ministers were considering how to make councils more responsible for youth justice, adding that the future of it would look “less centralised, more local”.
Community Care also understands that the YJB is split over its likely future. Although some inside the board are confident it can deliver enough savings to move forward, others believe the economic climate makes its position difficult to defend. This is especially the case since responsibility for youth justice policy was transferred to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in May.
A recent report by the Policy Exchange called for the YJB to be axed, branding it ineffective, expensive, wasteful and overly bureaucratic. Transferring its functions to the MoJ would save nearly £100m over four years, the think-tank said.
In July, shadow education secretary Ed Balls said he had heard on good authority that the YJB was to be axed.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We are carrying out a comprehensive assessment of youth and adult sentencing policy and will consult on our proposals for reform in the autumn.
“We are looking at all arm’s-length bodies and considering whether they should be retained. The YJB will be included in this process. Under the previous government a review of the YJB was undertaken and we will be looking at the recommendations of that review as part of this process.
“The YJB has an important aim to prevent offending by children and young people. As part of the rehabilitation revolution, the government intends to do everything possible to ensure the best outcomes for young people, their families and communities.”
The YJB’s future will be revealed in the government’s green paper, due in the autumn.
Frances Done, chair of the YJB, said: “Over the past couple of years, 20,448 fewer children and young people entered the youth justice system, there have been over 5,000 fewer re-offences committed by under-18s, from 2005 to 2008, and in the last few years over a thousand fewer young people have entered custody.
“These Government figures show a youth justice system which is delivering results. The YJB provides leadership in cohesion and innovation in achieving the best outcomes for some of the most challenging and volatile children and young people in our society.
“The YJB has demonstrated that working in partnership with different local agencies gives under 18s, in trouble with the law, the best opportunities to stop re-offending and provides the best chances of rehabilitation, leading to more productive lives.”
The YJB was set up 12 years ago to monitor the performance and operation of the youth justice system.
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