Youth Justice Board chief John Drew is to lead a specialist youth justice unit in the Ministry of Justice, Community Care has learned.
The role will be created when the YJB’s functions, and many of its staff, transfer to the MoJ under proposals in the Public Bodies Bill.
The Bill set out the government’s proposed shake-up of non-departmental bodies, announced in October. The legislation would enable ministers to scrap 192 quangos, including the YJB and the General Social Care Council.
Drew said he welcomed the creation of a specialist youth justice division to ensure a consistent, expert focus on policy and practice after the YJB is abolished.
“It will be a change for us,” he said. “Ministers will have more accountability and responsibility for youth justice, but I am delighted that the MoJ has decided not to fundamentally alter the way the YJB carries out its business.”
The government’s decision to abolish the YJB has proved controversial.
YJB chair Frances Done told a committee of MPs in January that the board was never directly consulted about its abolition. The MPs concluded that the government’s review of quangos was “poorly managed” and that the Public Bodies Bill was “badly drafted”.
In March, the House of Lords voted to retain the YJB. A majority of 63 peers backed an amendment to the Bill, urging ministers to remove the YJB from the list of threatened quangos. The Bill is yet to be debated in the House of Commons.
An MoJ spokesperson said: “The MoJ has been working closely with YJB senior management and staff to plan for a smooth transition of the board into the MoJ, pending the passage of the Public Bodies Bill.
“John Drew has agreed to lead the transition of the YJB into a newly formed Youth Justice division in the MoJ, which he will then lead. John will work to ensure that the new unit is effectively embedded in the department whilst retaining the experience and expertise of YJB staff.”
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