Agenda item

Youth Justice Plan 2023-2024


Councillor Sue Markham introduced the report and moved the recommendation. In doing so she stated that the submission of the Plan was an annual statutory requirement which also set out the vision for the delivery of services by the Warwickshire Youth Justice Partnership over the coming year.   In relation to performance, Councillor Markham highlighted that the report set out a reduction in first time entrants and re-offending rates for children in Warwickshire – rates which were below the national average and those of local comparative authorities – and a significant improvement in NEETS.  The Plan set out the focus on delivering early intervention to support continued reduction in the numbers of youths coming through the criminal justice system and set out four key priorities to achieve this:

        Prevention of Serious Youth Violence

        Prevention of and improved intervention for children who present with harmful sexualised behaviours.

        Embedding the ARC Trauma Informed Model and improving the interventions offer for children

        Focusing on Core Good Practice – including reviewing all policies, procedures and agreements


The recommendation was seconded by Councillor Andy Crump.



Councillor Sarah Feeney welcomed the report and the work of officers delivering the service.  However, she considered that more information regarding neurodiversity could be included and provided statistics from the 2017 ‘Neurodevelopmental disorders in prison inmates‘ study which indicated that 9% of prison inmates met the criteria for autism, 25% met the ADHD diagnostic, and 9% met the screening criteria for learning difficulties.   She went on to quote from a subsequent report written by the Chief Inspector of Prisons which suggested that it was possible that half of people entering prison could “be expected to have some form of neurodivergent condition which impacts their ability to engage.”  In light of this, Councillor Feeney questioned what work could be done through early intervention to provide a focus on neurodiversity.

Councillor Bill Gifford also welcomed the report, and particularly noted the section regarding the Voice of the Child and the work that had been done to increase volunteer panel members with regard to restorative justice.  He looked forward to improvements in the process to report on monitoring contact with victims of crime.

Councillor Jonathan Chilvers noted that reoffending figures were showing a downward trend but that this was based on data from March 2021.  Like Councillor Gifford, he noted that restorative justice underpinned the service and expressed concern that the volunteer aspect had been in decline.  He too welcomed the increase in volunteers and sought Councillor Markham’s view on how well the recovery was taking place.


Councillor Jerry Roodhouse welcomed the report and thanked officers and partners for their work.  In relation to paragraph 13 of the report, which noted the challenge of increasing serious crime, Councillor Roodhouse acknowledged that serious violence and knife crime did appear to be on the increase and he noted the challenges that tackling this would present to the service and, in his view, it was therefore important that the information and data that was being relied upon was up to date.   Councillor Roodhouse considered that the report would have benefited from including some of the related diversionary activities that were being provided by district and boroughs alongside youth services which would provide greater insight into geographical hotspots.  


Councillor Robert Tromans welcomed the report.  In response to previous comments he considered that victims of crime also needed support and were not likely to be interested in the neurodiversity of perpetrators.  He went on to say that he would have appreciated more detail in the report on prevention and diversion activity and work with victims.  He recalled that in a previous role of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner he had attended the Youth Justice Board and he was of the view that it would be helpful for elected members to be appointed to the Board to provide a voice for the public and an invaluable insight for officers.


Councillor Sarah Millar noted that the data in the report was a few years’ old and questioned how the impact of Covid in compounding the challenges already faced by those with mental health and emotional wellbeing challenges would be categorised and reflected in the data.


Councillor Clare Golby expressed her experience and view that some criminals were under the age of 18 and explained that the Nuneaton and Bedworth Community Safety Partnership was aware of repeat youth offenders who had committed serious crimes and the voice of the victims in these cases must not be lost.  She noted activities which saw young people groomed into criminal activity and applauded the operational work that the Police had undertaken over the summer months in terms of diversionary work in this regard.


Councillor Margaret Bell also noted instances of antisocial behaviour tipping into serious violence resulting in the loss of life. Whilst she was supportive of the report, it was important to set boundaries and make the consequences of crime clear. 


Councillor Andy Crump acknowledged the need to work with partners around the issue of neurodiversity and noted that the Chief Nurse was on the Youth Justice Board and worked with partners to provide advice but he recognised that the report was not explicit about the good work that was being done in this regard.  He also acknowledged that more accurate data was required and, in response to Councillor Millar, he believed that it would take time for the impact of Covid to be seen in the data, but it was key to be able to react to changing trends and utilise community intelligence to identify them early.   He noted that the serious violence duty was taken seriously and there were some great examples of diversionary work but the points that were made in the debate regarding grooming youths into a life of crime were noted and the need to address the root cause was acknowledged.   Councillor Crump welcomed the feedback in the report on the management of high risk children.


Councillor Markham thanked councillors for their comments and would seek to provide more up to date figures as sought during the debate.




A vote was held. The recommendation was agreed unanimously.




That Council approves the Warwickshire Youth Justice Service Strategic Plan 2023/24.

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