LGA warns on youth offending funding cut

3 Oct 15

Plans to cut funding to youth offending teams by £9m before April will throw agreed local plans to tackle crime into jeopardy and could result in an increase in the number of people in custody, councils have warned.

Setting out a response to Youth Justice Board plans to make the in-year cuts as part of moves to close a £13.5m funding gap, the Local Government Association said the move would be “counterproductive”

Its analysis concluded it was likely to cost the public purse more due to the increased likelihood of more entrants into the youth justice system as a result of less early intervention work and fewer community resolutions to offences.

Based on an average cost of holding a young person in custody, estimated at £100,000 a year, it would only take an extra 90 individuals to enter the system in a year for the planned savings to be wiped out, it highlighted.

The warning from town halls comes after the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers raised similar concerns last month.

LGA children and young people board chair Roy Perry highlighted that youth offending teams had contributed to the 75% fall in the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system over the last decade, from 88,403 in 2003/4 to 22,393 2013/14.

“Youth offending teams are widely recognised to be the most successful part of the criminal justice system, working closely with young people to prevent first time offenders and reduce the overall numbers in custody,” he said.

“They have achieved these successes in spite of regular funding reductions over a number of years, bringing about significant savings for successive governments by preventing young people getting into trouble in the first place.

“If a young person spends five years in the youth justice system they will have already cost the taxpayer more than half a million pounds. If you then add to this the cost of that individual being unable to work, perhaps claiming benefits or being involved in crime as an adult, the future costs begin to spiral making the attempted £9m of savings seem very short-sighted.”

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