MPs undecided over abolition of YJB

The House of Commons' justice select committee has made a number of proposals on the scrapping of the Youth Justice Board, although it has expressed no united opinion on the YJB's future.

The House of Commons’ justice select committee has made a number of proposals on the scrapping of the Youth Justice Board, although it has expressed no united opinion on the YJB’s future.

The planned abolition of the YJB is an issue of contention between the House of Lords and the House of Commons with the Lords refusing to include it in the so-called “bonfire of the quangos”.

However, the justice select committee’s inquiry into the issue failed to make a case either for or against the proposed abolition and transfer of functions into the Ministry of Justice.

However, if the YJB was scrapped the committee has made a number of recommendations including:

● the new division must not be part of the National Offender Management Service and the proposed youth justice advisory board should ensure the independence of the division.

● the government should consider introducing an additional performance indicator focusing on the reoffending rates of young people committing the most serious offences.

● youth offending teams (YOTs) should be able to provide feedback on the work of the division and the new division should continue to reduce the “prescriptive” level of oversight of teams.

● the new advisory board should listen to judges and magistrates and ensure they are informed about the comparitive use of custody rates.

● the MoJ should report back to the committee on the the progress of pilots providing councils with upfront cash to put in place early intervention strategies to reduce youth offending rates.

● the government should share its draft plan for the compisition of the advisory board and the chair should be independent and voluntary.

● the government needs to improve the distribution of best practice.

Professional officer for the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Nushra Mansuri said there were real worries among social workers about the impact of cuts on youth offending teams and the vision for breaking the cycle of young offending.

“We want to see any savings re-distributed into preventative services in the community. The original green paper from which this report originates was called ‘Breaking the Cycle’ but if we end up with more cuts and a more diluted service then it is hard to conceive that the cycle of offending will be broken.

“We think most social workers would embrace a bold vision for young people in the youth justice system such as the Munro report provided for child protection,” Mansuri said.

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