Newcastle City Council launched its Youth Justice Service Plan this month with the principal aim of preventing children from being drawn into crime and keeping neighbourhoods safe.
According to the council 2023 represented a year of ”significant change” within the Youth Justice Service both nationally and locally. The service has undergone substantial changes both to its structure and service delivery with the appointment of a new manager and ”transformation” in how the Council and its partners deliver preventive services.
”Getting the basics right”
The major area of focus for the service in 2023 is based on ”getting the basics right” with an emphasis on:
- Leadership & management
- A strong focus on training and development for all staff
- Inspection readiness
- Ensuring high quality data and implementing a revised quality assurance framework.
Coun Lesley Storey, the lead Cabinet Member in this area, said:
”Our focus from this autumn will be embedding the work of the YJS into the Council’s existing scrutiny structures and getting more elected members involved in the process. Prevention is key. That’s why I welcome the grant funded ‘Turnaround’ programme directed at Youth Justice Services to enable them to intervene earlier and improve outcomes for children aged 10-17 who are on the cusp of entering the Criminal Justice system.”
According to Coun Storey this was implemented in Newcastle as a key priority and received a ‘Good’ rating from the government’s MoJ.
She added: ”Prevention needs to be firmly on the agenda of every organisation working with children and young people across our city. It can’t be right that children have to wait until they have committed a crime and come into the youth justice system before their needs are met.”
She went to explain that all agencies need to understand and invest their role to make sure a child’s basic needs are met much earlier. Research reveals that earlier intervention with vulnerable children results in lower rates of crime.
She added: ” Children who commit offences have a story – we need to use a trauma unformed lens and hear and see that story. They are first and foremost children – we must never forget this.
”Children who carry out crimes against others often harm other children or their families and communities. We need to support those victims and this a key priority,” she said.
” We need to be child centred in all we do. This plan sets our journey and how we’ll achieve this working together with others.”