Home Office approach fails to tie in with green paper, say professionals

The document launched alongside the children’s green paper by the
Home Office, Youth Justice – The Next Steps, fails to promote the
welfare of young offenders, leading figures in the sector have

Chris Stanley, head of youth justice at rehabilitation agency
Nacro, said it was “highly disappointing” that the child protection
elements specific to youth justice had been effectively
“ring-fenced and left to one side”.

He highlighted the contrasting thrusts of the two documents and
said:”The message from the green paper is that ‘every child
matters’, unless that is, that child happens also to be a young

Stanley added:”Children should be accorded minimum levels of
protection regardless of their behaviour, but those perhaps most in
need of safeguards and care will be unduly penalised by this

While the green paper contained some “encouraging recommendations”
on youth offending teams and the welfare of the children they
worked with, he said it would remain to be seen how YOTs would be
able to balance these welfare commitments with their remit to
tackle crime under the “planned two-tier system”.

The Local Government Association has also criticised the document
for putting too much emphasis on punishment and not enough on the
welfare of children.

“Previously, sentencing was about preventing offending and taking
account of welfare, but this suggests the main purpose of
sentencing is to stop offending – the welfare stuff has been
dropped,” said Helen Goody, social affairs programme manager at the

Joyce Moseley, a Youth Justice Board member and chief executive of
RPS Rainer welcomed the green paper’s attempts to redress the
balance and strengthen child welfare.

However, she warned that the green paper as a whole it was “fairly
weak on the older age group” – she would have liked to have seen
more focus on preventive work for older adolescents.

Rob Allen, director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, welcomed
many of the green paper’s proposals, but described the Home
Office’s document as a “huge missed opportunity” to consult on a
more radical way of dealing with youth crime, including increasing
the age of criminal responsibility and phasing out the use of
custody for under-18s.

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