Unanimous support for Warwickshire youth justice service plan which prioritises prevention of offending

The report also recognises the need for greater investment in victim support

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An annual plan setting out the aims for Warwickshire County Council’s youth justice service has been given cross-party support.

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the 2021/22 youth justice plan at this week’s full council meeting on Tuesday (September 28).

Cllr Jeff Morgan (Con, Bulkington and Whitestone), the portfolio holder for children, families and education, told the meeting: “The youth justice service is the part of the county council that I’m really most proud of and most impressed by.

“I was fortunate to go out and meet the teams and I was very impressed by the work that they do - these are the social workers who look after our kids when they get into trouble.

“In terms of performance we are still doing well - Warwickshire is a high performing county council - but there are a few things we need to keep our eye on.

“The rate of first time entrants into the youth justice system is rising slightly. Our performance in terms of taking part in employment, education and training for young people involved in the system is possibly not as good as it should be. Finally, we are also aware - and this is a national issue - that there has been a serious increase in serious crime, particularly involving weapons.”

A report considered by councillors explained that the main goal of the service was to prevent offending and reoffending and to support communities in staying safe and independent.

It added: “An increasing area of youth justice delivery involves targeting young people at an early stage to stop them progressing into the youth justice system.

“There are clear plans for improvement as we emerge from the restrictions of the pandemic which also incorporate learning and practice developed during the lockdown period.

“We need to ensure that we re-invigorate our work with victims ensuring they retain their voice in the youth justice system.”

That point was also picked up by Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Jerry Roodhouse (Lib Dem, Eastlands).

He said: “The area which I do think will need greater investment is around victims and victim support.

"I’m sure the service will get there but with the increases in demand and new challenges that we are always seeing across the landscape we do need to remember that there are victims at the end of this and we need to possibly do more work around that.

“The report recognises this and my question I suppose is whether there will be the acceleration needed to deliver that and make sure that that voice is coming through - and that will come down to resources again.”