Ed Balls: youth justice teams must work closer with schools

The gap between children’s services and youth justice is “still too wide”, children, schools and families secretary Ed Balls has said.

Speaking at the Youth Justice Board convention yesterday, Balls called for local authorities to do more to bring services together, particularly youth offending teams and schools.

He said children’s trusts were accountable for bringing numbers of young people in custody down, by shifting their focus to “early intervention and resettlement”.

Balls also confirmed that the Queen’s Speech next Wednesday would include a bill to give local authorities responsibility for the education of children in custody. The proposal was included in the Youth Crime Action Plan, published in the summer.

Speaking alongside Balls at the convention in Harrogate, justice secretary Jack Straw also denied that there were “too many” children in custody.

He pointed out that currently there were six children aged 12 in custody, but no 10 or 11-year-olds, with the numbers rising “significantly” among older children.

“Nobody wants to see a youngster put into custody unless it is absolutely necessary,” he added.

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