Categorized | Criminal Justice

Youth Justice Board

Youth Justice Board

The government has abandoned plans to scrap the Youth Justice Board (YJB). The decision came shortly after another U-turn over plans to axe the post of chief coroner. Both issues had threatened to derail the passage of the Public Bodies Bill through the Lords last Wednesday.

In October 2010 it was announced that the YJB would cease to function as a public body, and the leadership of youth justice and functions of the YJB would move into the Ministry of Justice. Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said at that time: “This organisation has helped to transform the delivery of youth justice and has fulfilled an important role in reducing offending and re-offending by young people. Now is the right time to look more radically at the arrangement of youth justice, including the role of the YJB, ensuring that a dedicated focus on rehabilitation needs of young people is driven forward in the future.”

Both the YJB and the office of the chief coroner were to have been scrapped as part of a so-called ‘bonfire of the quangos’. But the government was defeated in the House of Lords on both decisions earlier this year, and further defeat was expected at the latest stage of the bill. The Ministry of Justice said the youth justice system still needed reform to make it more efficient and directly accountable to ministers, but, “following careful consideration”, the board would be saved. So both burning brands were plucked from the fire at the last moment.

Crossbench peer and former chief inspector of prisons Lord Ramsbotham, whose amendment reprieving the board was accepted by the government, welcomed the decision. He said: “I would like to thank and congratulate the Government on the decision that they have come to. By deciding to retain the Youth Justice Board, they have provided a service to two separate organisations and bodies: first, the youth justice system as a whole, which has benefited from the leadership and direction of the Youth Justice Board since 1999; and, secondly, the Ministry of Justice itself, because it has retained an independent body capable of directing and overseeing the youth justice system on its behalf that is accountable and responsible to Ministers.

“This is particularly important in the light of the riots in the summer, because during that period the Youth Justice Board played an enormously important part both in liaising with, overseeing and helping the youth offending teams out in the community and in overseeing the introduction and reception into custody of people who required a great deal of help.”

In a BBC report, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, is reported as saying that the government had shown that it is prepared to listen to reason. “By holding on to the Youth Justice Board it can build on an impressive drop in youth crime and continue to reduce the numbers of children and young people getting into trouble,” she said.

So what’s next for U-turning?

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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