Youth Justice Board's future in doubt over failure to reduce crime

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The Independent Online

The future of the Youth Justice Board, one of the central elements of Tony Blair's penal policy, is in serious doubt as the Government rethinks its strategy on youth crime.

A new youth crime action plan is likely to see responsibilities shift from the board – established in 1998 to lead the Government's drive to cut youth crime – to local councils and children's services.

This comes after a decade of record investment and major restructuring of the criminal justice system has failed to cut youth crime.

Critics say the emphasis on the justice system has failed to tackle the complex causes of crime while locking up children unnecessarily. The number of young people in custody has increased over the past 10 years and rates of re-offending remain high.

Ministers are said to be considering proposals put forward by the Prison Reform Trust which would transfer money out of the board and leave it with a far less influential role. It has been sidelined in recent discussions in the lead up to the youth action plan.

The major shake-up will place more emphasis on health, education and housing working together to prevent children becoming criminals.