The Home Office, Department for Children, Schools and Families, and the Ministry of Justice are all jointly committed to tackling the problem of youth crime, and July’s Youth Crime Action Plan demonstrates this tri-lateral approach to the problem.
It sets out a triple track approach of enforcement and punishment where behaviour is unacceptable, non-negotiable support and challenge where it is most needed, and better and earlier prevention.
Clearly the three Departments set out above have different responsibilities within the youth crime agenda and lead on different strands of the work, however all are jointly signed up to this approach.
Generally, the Home Office, with overall responsibility for reducing crime, leads on enforcement and policing strands of work, the Ministry of Justice on the youth justice system, custody and resettlement, and the Department for Children, Schools and Families on early intervention and prevention. However these responsibilities are not absolute and very effective partnership working has been developed to ensure focus on delivery and to reduce any negative effects of possible silo working.
A very significant contribution to the youth crime agenda is also made by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform which is leading on issues of youth victimisation.
The Home Office has sponsored the following youth crime prevention programmes in the last five years:
Youth Inclusion Programmes (YIPs), established in 2000, are tailor-made programmes for eight to 17-year-olds, who are identified as being at high risk of involvement in offending or antisocial behaviour.
YIPs are also open to other young people in the local area. The programme operates in 110 of the most deprived/high crime estates in England and Wales.
YIPs aim to reduce youth crime and antisocial behaviour in neighbourhoods where they work. Young people on the YIP are identified through a number of different agencies including youth offending teams (YOTs), police, social services, local education authorities or schools, and other local agencies.
The programme gives young people somewhere safe to go where they can learn new skills, take part in activities with others and get help with their education and careers guidance. Positive role models—the workers and volunteer mentors—help to change young people's attitudes to education and crime.
Each project has the following aims:
to engage with a high proportion of the target group of young people (as identified by the agencies above), especially those members deemed most at risk;
to address the risks identified by assessment;
to increase access to mainstream and specialist services, especially in relation to education, training and employment, for the young people involved;
to prevent young people in the programme from entering the Criminal Justice System, and to reduce offending of young people already in the system;
to intervene, not just on an individual level, but with communities and families (especially the parents of the core group).
Each YIP receives an annual grant from the YJB through its YOT and is required to find matched funding from local agencies to add to this. In many areas, programmes also obtain resources from other organisations (such as new deal for communities), which share the aim of supporting communities in relation to crime and antisocial behaviour.
There are now 120 YIPs across England and Wales, based in some of the most deprived and high-crime areas. YIPs work with eight to 17-year-olds carefully targeted according to their risk of involvement in offending or antisocial behaviour. This targeting is based on many factors, such as exclusion from school, and involves many different agencies working together including youth offending teams (YOTs), police, schools and social services.
A total of 25,287 young people were engaged by phase two of YIP. This includes 82 per cent. of the ‘Core 50’—the 50 young people in each neighbourhood deemed most to be at risk of crime. The purpose of phase two of YIP is to ‘reduce youth crime within the neighbourhood’.
The YJB announced in September that it had exceeded its 5 per cent. target to reduce the number of first-time entrants to the youth justice system; 10.2 per cent. fewer young people have become involved with crime since 2005-06.
Youth Inclusion and Support Panels (YISPs) aim to prevent antisocial behaviour and offending by eight to 13-year-olds who are considered to be at high risk of offending.
They have been designed to help the YJB meet its target of putting in place, in each YOT in England and Wales, programmes that will identify and reduce the likelihood of young people committing offences.
Panels are made up of a number of representatives of different agencies (e.g. police, schools, health and social services). The main emphasis of a panel's work is to ensure that children and their families, at the earliest possible opportunity, can access mainstream public services.
Following a successful pilot scheme that began in April 2003, the YJB and the Children's Fund now fund 122 YISPs. Of these, 13 pilot areas have received additional support to develop procedures and innovative practice, which will then provide a framework of best practice for all other YISPs.
The Positive Futures programme is a national sports based social inclusion programme which is funded by the Home Office in partnership with the Football Foundation. The programme aims to have a positive influence on young people's lives through widening their horizons and providing access to new opportunities by using sport, art and leisure activities as a catalyst to encourage project participation and steering young people towards education, training and employment.
The programme helps the Home Office deliver its ambitions around reducing drug use and drug harms, but also helps us achieve other aims relating to crime, antisocial behaviour and guns, gangs and knives. The programme achieves these outcomes by tackling risk factors such as vulnerability and social exclusion as well as by doing more direct work, for example, by putting young people in touch with drugs workers.
The programme has been in operation since 2001 and the number of projects has grown to over 120 projects. The projects operate in each of the 30 areas worst affected by drug-related crime in the country. They are delivered locally by a range of agencies including local authorities, charities, sports clubs and crime reduction agencies.
Between 1 October 2006 and 30 September 2007 over 48,000 young people attended projects across the country, and nearly 1.1 million contact hours were invested with young people. 76 per cent. of those engaged in the programme had been in contact for periods in excess of 12 weeks.
Funding by the Home Office for all three of the above programmes is as follows—£7 million per annum was provided by the Home Office to the YJB for YIPs when the YJB was sponsored by the Home Office. When responsibility for the YJB passed from the Home Office to MOJ during 2007-08, so did the baseline prevention funding. New SR04 funding was made available to YJB from the Home Office from 2005-06 to 2008-09 (£3 million, £15 million, £15 million, £18 million). Additional YIP and YISP funding (not included here) has been provided by MOJ and DCSF to YJB from 2007-08 onwards.
The Home Office is also providing £5.9 million of funding for the Positive Futures Programme in 2008-09.