Over Easter I ran a seriesof blogs on the radical Magna Carta for localism paper published by the Centre fro Policy Studies. But one of the issues I missed was what it offered for young people. There is an army of Youth Workers and an alphabet soup of bureaucratic provision but how effective is it? Initiatives have spiralled out of a laudable objective to "do something" about youth crime but the result has been a lot of messy duplication and wasteful spending with provision which has sometimes proved inflexible and unresponsive to what is required.
The report says:
In response to widespread concerns over youth offending, a wide range of national schemes have grown up over the last ten years. These include: Youth Inclusion Programmes, Youth Inclusion and Support Panels, parenting interventions, Safer School Partnerships and various mentoring programmes.
Having so many overlapping providers results in disjointed services for youth provision. The different public sector bodies, all with different and frequently conflicting objectives, are unable to offer a consistent, locally coherent approach to the problems of youth offending. This lack of integration limits the possibility to leveraging local knowledge and to identify potential problems early.
Local schemes that recognise local factors could be far more effective, particularly in prevention. In Hammersmith and Fulham, the decision has already been made to unite youth offending services with youth services and “targeted youth support.” Collectively this group of services can target the
general youth population, the young people who need additional help to succeed and then the group who get involved in crime. “Integrated youth services” can cover all the gaps through which young people have to fall through if they offend.
The services involved with youth crime comprise a wide group of agencies. Schools, youth organisations, and Connexions are mainstream providers for all young people. Children’s social
care, targeted youth support, health services for drugs and mental health, Accident & Emergency and housing providers accommodate or tackle the problems of offender families. Finally, the law and order agencies – police, courts, youth offending services, probation and the custodial institutions are inevitably involved.
A new structure is needed that ensures effective local planning of the collective efforts of these organisations. This is likely to be in the form of a youth commissioning unit whose tasks would be to ensure that resources are spent on locally set priorities and cost effective services that prevent and therefore reduce crime. In effect the shift in focus must be from youth offending to helping problem families – all at better value for money.