A REPORT that goes before the Thurrock Council crime committee tonight (Tuesday) reflects the challenges for fighting youth crime in Thurrock.
Earlier this year, the youth offending service announced that of 108 first time offenders, only 9 had re-offended. This statistic was praised by politicians of all colours but others questioned whether 99 lives had been turned around or simply up to 99 offenders who had infact re-offended but not been apprehended?
Youth Offending Services (YOS) were created by the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act to prevent offending and re-offending by young people between the ages of ten and seventeen years.
The YOS effectively has a dual duty; to provide interventions that turn young people away from crime, maximise their potential and keep them safe but also to protect the public from their actions.
The report makes the following observations:
Thurrock is a low spending authority generally and has the smallest YOS in the country.
This year however has seen some major changes with the three year secondment of one of the YOS Operations Managers and two of the core case work team to the Troubled Families programme. This, plus the departure of other key staff, including the seconded Probation Officer, has left the service desperately short of people across all the crucial areas and it is to the credit of the remaining staff that their commitment and willingness to work flexibly outside of their normal roles has enabled service delivery to continue – albeit it with some loss of performance.
Thurrock YOS had two inspections in January of this year, one from the Care Quality Commission and one from HMI Probation.
The HMI inspection was very positive and generated the following message from the Youth Justice Board.
“Please accept my congratulations on your very strong performance in the recent Core Case Inspection. To have secured two excellents and one good is a testimony to a lot of hard work from your staff as well as excellent leadership from the two of you.
First time entrants to criminal justice system in Thurrock has declined by 53% in Thurrock whilst it has dropped by 19% nationally.
Reoffending rates stand at 29.6% compared to a national average of 34.1% (09-10)
As a result of community solutions and the success of TRIAGE in greatly reducing the first time entrants to the youth justice system in Thurrock (a reduction of 40% on the 2010 cohort), the reduction in those appearing before the Courts & undergoing sentencing has greatly reduced and those that are appearing for sentencing are therefore the more serious & persistent offenders and at higher risk of custodial sentence.
Additionally the lesser crimes are now being dealt with by the prevention/pre-Court disposal and can no longer be used to counter balance custodial sentences which are expressed as a percentage of total disposals.
The percentage re-offending rate continues to be the lowest in region, family and national. (please note there is a year’s drag for this data as it is based on re-offending activity in the year following the conviction).
Reporting Year 10-11
444 recorded offences for youths in Thurrock
69 of these relate to the violence against the person act
7 of these are possession of an offensive weapon
4 of these are for bladed articles (the other 3 are for a pole, an imitation fire arm and a sheath.
Reporting year 11-12
201 recorded offences for youths in Thurrock
63 of these relate to the violence against the person act
5 of these are possession of an offensive weapon
2 of these are bladed articles
Knife crime therefore continues to account for less than 1% of offences committed in Thurrock by Youths in 11-12.
Education, Training, Employment (ETE)
There is one area of where the YOS traditionally underperforms. The number of young offenders engaged in education, employment or training has rarely risen above 55%.
Performance in 2010/11 improved dramatically with an end of year figure at 69%. This was in part due to some new systems and arrangements put in place at the beginning of the year and a redoubling of efforts by staff.
The biggest challenge is the 16+ group and this year we have set up a service within the YOS using the Education Training & Employment (ETE) Personal Advisors from Adolescent Services. Figures so far look promising with an end of an of year figure for 11-12 being 65% and the current rate for the first 2 quarters of 12-13 being 63.5%.
Thurrock YOS suffered a cut of Ministry of Justice funding in 2011/12 of 21% amounting to some £93,000. Interagency finance (police, health, probation) was £94,000 which was just £500 less than the previous year owing to a 5% cut from probation.
The rest of that year’s total budget of £865,000 was made up from the council contribution.
This current year YOS funding from the Ministry of Justice was cut by a further £14,000 to a total of £345,000 which resulted in the loss of some staff hours dedicated to ETE and reparation. Interagency finance remained the same and the LA contributed the remainder bringing the total to £845,000.
Next year will bring further challenges as The Ministry of Justice has indicated that further cuts to the grant will occur plus the current Home Office funding will go to the Police Crime Commissioner (PCC) who will have to decide whether to return it to the YOS or use it for other purposes.
Future direction of YOS now appears to be settled as the indications are that the government like the model and will largely continue with it
The biggest changes will take place in December of this year when all young people on remand will become LAC and April of next year when custodial remand costs will be paid by the Local Authority rather than the Ministry of Justice in order to incentivise Local Authorities to provide more robust alternatives such as Intensive Fostering.
The formula for calculating how much funding will devolve has not yet been absolutely finalised but what is clear is that devolved funds will only cover the costs for 15-17 year olds in YOI’s (Youth Offender Institutions) at £173 per night and not the costs of 12-14 year olds and vulnerable older youths held in Secure Training Centres at £603 per night.
Diversity and Equality
Last year (11-12) the BME element of Thurrock’s offending population was:-
81.5% White British 6.5% Mix/Dual background 1.7% Asian and Asian British 8.9% Black and Black British 1.1% Unknown
The latest data which is probably the best comparator is the schools data which is as follows:-
75.1% White British 3.7% Mix/Dual background 3.3% Asian and Asian British 10.4% Black or Black British 4.9% White other or unknown
It can be seen from this that the BME population are not over represented in the offending population.
Approximately 30% of all offences were committed by young women with the type of offence being as one would expect.
Robbery, burglary and violent offences predominantly male and shoplifting predominantly female.
Lets start at the root of the problem, there is nothing for the youth to do anymore, every bit of land is being built upon rather than being developed into areas that can be used by the youth, society no longer volunteer to assist in running schemes for helping the youth.
The youth today feel disenfranchised from society and because of this will vent their frustrations on anything around them, we are too far into the digital age where the youth are stuck behind the TV on their games consoles and have no imagination of their own to do things and develop their minds with outside interests.
The best people to ask what is best to control youth crime is the youth themselves, set up workshops and groups where these youths can become involved in setting their future and the activities that would like, then use them assist in building and developing these place