Children’s services shake-up may leave young offenders at margins

Young offenders and children at risk of antisocial behaviour could
be sidelined under the new children’s services arrangements, it is

The annual conference of rehabilitation agency Nacro was told last
week that youth justice was “not visible” in the Children Act 2004.
Lisa Payne, principal policy officer at the National Children’s
Bureau, also criticised antisocial behaviour mechanisms as not

Delegates in Sheffield raised concerns over the potential “knock-on
effects” of schools taking “too much control” over children’s

A youth offending service manager highlighted one pilot children’s
trust where a school had used resources to set up a unit for
excluded children instead of encouraging integration. He said there
was a “real danger” that schools could work against the preventive

Concerns were also raised over the absence of an obligation for
crime and disorder reduction partnerships to become children’s
trusts partners.

“Antisocial behaviour is not firmly in the Change for Children
programme because the structures that deal with it lie outside the
new children’s trusts,” Payne said. “While profound changes [in
services] are taking place, it may be that antisocial behaviour is
regarded as less important and gets lost.”

Although delegates acknowledged that youth offending teams were
“very firmly” in the children’s legislation, there were concerns
about what this would mean for joint working in practice as this
would be determined locally.

Payne said: “Guidance from the DfES and the Home Office indicate a
lack of clarity in relation to how ‘plugged in’ Yots should be and
is focused on local government structures and priorities. This
means that many of the other partner agencies may feel relatively
uninvolved in these new developments.”

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