The Medway Youth Justic Partnership Strategic Plan (attached at Appendix 1 to the report) will cover a 3 year period form 2020 - 2023 and has been co-produced with Youth Justice Partnership Board (YJPB) members and influenced by national research and evidence of effective practice and has taken examples across National Partnerships.
The Head of Partnership Commissioning, Resources and Youth Justice introduced the report which presented the draft Medway Youth Justice Strategic Partnership Plan for consideration. He highlighted the three aims of the plan, the successes of the Youth Offending Team (YOT) and areas for improvement. He explained that the YOT had been inspected earlier in the year and the outcome of the inspection would be published on 4 June 2020.
Members then raised a number of questions and comments, which included:
· Post 16 provision – in response to a question about what was being done to mitigate the large reduction in post 16 provision, officers confirmed they were working closely with the Medway Skills Partnership Board and had been successful in some funding bids to develop alternative options. This remains a significant challenge.
· Reducing young people entering custody – in response to concerns raised around Medway’s performance in this area, officers confirmed it was an area of focus. Improved working relationships with Police would assist by them referring young people earlier, for example when the Police take no further action support from YOT could then help prevent that young person from further involvement in crime. The YOT was also working with the Courts in delivering the Intensive Surveillance Support Programme which enabled Young People to be better supported in the community. The new Adolescent Service within Children’s Services would also be working with complex young people who were not open to the YOT and it was hoped this, along with work by Medway Task Force, the Violence Reduction Unit and other interventions planned, would have a positive impact.
· Data lag – in response to a question about the lag of data, officers explained that this was a difficulty nationally due to the release of data from the Youth Justice Board.
Management of case stepdowns – in response to a question, officers
explained that the new Early Help and Adolescent services within
Children’s Social Care would help in terms of supporting a
child and their family where they were no longer the responsibility
of the YOT but still needed some level of intervention to work
through any continuing vulnerabilities to avoid re-offending
· Visiting the YOT – in response to a request officers were supportive of Members visiting YOT as well as observing the work done within communities once social distancing eased.
· Gang activity – in response to a comment regarding gang activity in Medway officers confirmed that this was a concern and work with partners was ongoing to reduce the ability of gangs to operate effectively in Medway. The YOT worked closely with the Community Safety Partnership on this issue and following a successful bid with North Kent (KCC), the service would be working in partnership with community and school settings to address this area.
· Support for young people with ADHD and/or dyslexia – given the high prevalence of these conditions amongst young offenders, it was asked if specific support would be provided to such young people working with Medway’s YOT. In response officers explained that they believed there to be an under reporting or under diagnosis of conditions such as these within the Medway YOT cohort. Work was therefore underway with Medway Community Healthcare to better identify the needs of young people (including training) and the YOT had also been working with Educational Psychology to better understand the special education needs of the YOT cohort.
· Violence against parents – it was confirmed that the lockdown measures had seen an increase in violence by young people against their parents. The YOT delivered a programme called non-violent resistance and also a programme called Acorns which supported parental victims. It was added that other areas within Children’s Services, such as Early Help, could also refer families into these programmes.
· Parenting support – the importance of supporting parents early on was emphasised. Getting adults into work, supporting them with drug and alcohol misuse where needed and supporting all families across all aspects and services would in turn reduce the risks of a child’s involvement in criminality.
The Committee recommended Cabinet to recommend Full
approve the Medway Youth Justice Partnership Strategic Plan 2020 – 2023, including its accompanying delivery plan (Appendix A to the Strategic Plan) all underpinned by the use of a public health approach.
2) The Committee recommended Cabinet to recommend Full Council to agree that reducing reoffending and custody rates should be a major priority for all Members as well as the Youth Justice Partnership Board.
3) The Committee agreed to receive a report on the outcome of the HMIP Inspection of the Medway Youth Offending Team at a later meeting.
Councillors Cooper, Howcroft-Scott and Johnson requested that their votes in favour of the decisions be recorded.