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Young Offenders

Volume 516: debated on Tuesday 19 October 2010

2. What proportion of young offenders reoffended within one year of being released from custody in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (17812)

16. What proportion of young offenders reoffended within (a) one and (b) two years of being released from custody in the latest period for which figures are available. (17827)

The latest reoffending rate for young people, those aged between 10 and 17, released from custody in England and Wales in the first quarter of 2008 is 74.3%. Reoffending rates for young people are based on whether an offender has been convicted at court or has received an out-of-court disposal for an offence in the year following release from custody.

Does the Minister agree that young offenders, when released from prison, need a more demanding and challenging set of programmes? In my constituency, the Kent Film Foundation runs a programme teaching film skills, and it has an 85% success rate in getting young offenders into work or further education, at a cost of £5,000 per course.

There are many isolated examples of really good practice all over the country, and our challenge is to systemise it so that people can learn from what works, experience the flexibility and the opportunity to implement it and deliver the output, which then effectively turns those young people away from crime.

Given the abject failure of the Youth Justice Board to reduce reoffending among our young people, what plans does the Minister have to replace it, and in particular what role does he envisage for the private and voluntary sectors in that area?

The functions of the Youth Justice Board will be taken into the Ministry of Justice, but I am not sure that I would be quite as condemnatory as my hon. Friend is about the board’s record. It has achieved success in getting youth offending teams effectively embedded within a local delivery framework, and it is now up to the Ministry of Justice and myself, as the Minister for Youth Justice, to take that work forward and take responsibility for it.

Precisely how much money will the Minister save by the abolition of the Youth Justice Board? Will he ensure that that money is reinvested in front-line services to support youth offending teams? How precisely does he expect to organise youth offending teams without the oversight of the Youth Justice Board?

There will be some savings to be taken, but they will not be taken at the outset because the delivery functions of the Youth Justice Board, principally in purchasing custody for young people sent into custody by the courts, will obviously remain. I would have thought that the right hon. Gentleman remembered the system that he had, whereby one-on-one policy advice came from the Youth Justice Board and from his own policy officials in the Department. That sort of duplication will be taken away by bringing the functions of the Youth Justice Board within the Ministry of Justice.

I am glad that the Minister has not taken the opportunity to rubbish the Youth Justice Board, because the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly), heaped praise on it in abolishing it last week. Having praised and buried the Youth Justice Board, what does the Minister suggest takes its place? He knows that 25% falls in youth reoffending rates occurred over its first eight years. What is his strategy for continuing the excellent record of the previous Labour Government in reducing youth reoffending?

I am not entirely sure that I would be that sanctimonious about presenting the record of the last Labour Government, when we had not only the awful reoffending rates out of custody but, in relation to community penalties, 67.6% of young people reoffending within one year. That is not a record to be wildly proud of. We need to continue to embed youth offending teams in their local authority areas and ensure that there is a proper, effective delivery of local services to young people, including from the education departments of local authorities, for example, to ensure that we properly co-ordinate the effective delivery of services to young offenders within the gift of the state to ensure that they do not reoffend.