Update from Pete Wallis: Oxfordshire Youth Offending Services

It has been a busy year. In the first two quarters (for cases that closed in the 6 months from April to September) we were able to contact 113 people harmed by the crimes committed by the young people under supervision of the youth justice system over that 6 month period.  74% opted to be involved in a restorative process, of which 21.2% were involved in a face to face restorative meeting and 53.09% were involved an indirect restorative process (eg. letter of apology, shuttle mediation). The remaining 25.6% were contacted, consulted and updated on the case, but declined any involvement in restorative justice. The team have also delivered training in restorative approaches to all the children’s home staff and run two training days for managers in the restorative approach. The Youth Justice Service is exploring what it means to be a restorative organisation. Meanwhile the Youth Justice Service is just settling again after a restructure, prompted by a 20% staff cut. The fact that the restorative justice staff weren’t cut is testament to the importance that Oxfordshire County Council places on restorative justice.

Nationally, the review into youth justice (The Charlie Taylor Review) commissioned by the last government has finally been published, with the government response suggesting that:

  • The Youth Justice Board will probably continue to exist
  • Budgets for youth justice services from central government to local councils will continue to be ring-fenced
  • There are no plans to abolish youth offending teams, although local areas will be given more freedom to be creative in how youth justice is delivered
  • There is a big emphasis on the plight and needs of young people in youth custody, with suggestions for smaller more local provision, and a strong focus on education and health

In other news the local Oxford Charity SAFE! which supports young people affected by crime, is exceeding its targets and if referrals continue as they have been, could be supporting 580 young people this financial year – the biggest categories being young people who have experienced sexual abuse and those who have witnessed or experienced domestic abuse. We also have recruited Ruth Donaldson to head up the child on parent violence project, and the next group starts in Oxford on 24th January.