Working with Local Criminal Justice Boards

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1 Working with Local Criminal Justice Boards Guidance for youth offending teams Youth Justice Board for England and Wales Youth Justice Board for England and Wales

2 Contents Introduction 3 Local criminal justice boards 3 Targets and priorities 5 Youth offending team representation 5 Opportunities 5 Responsibilities 8 Role of the Youth Justice Board 9 Working in partnership 9 Chairing local criminal justice boards 9 Sub-groups 9 Joint strategic planning, financing and supervision of projects 9 Communications and sharing information 10 Appendix A: useful contacts 12 Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 2

3 Introduction This guidance is based on Local Criminal Justice Boards and the Youth Justice System, published by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, in association with the Prolific and Other Priority Offenders Implementation Team, youth offending team (Yot) managers, and Youth Justice Board regional monitors. It is designed to clarify expectations with regard to Yot representation on local criminal justice boards, and to act as a source of information on Yots wider involvement in relevant partnerships and organisations. The guidance also cites practical examples of the progress that can be made when Yot representation on local criminal justice boards is exploited to the full, to the mutual benefit of both bodies. There are many areas where the agendas of local criminal justice boards and Yots overlap: persistent young offenders pledge Prolific and Other Priority Offenders Strategy all strands Street Crime Initiative warrant enforcement links with crime and disorder reduction partnerships/community safety partnerships links with local authorities victims and witnesses public confidence agenda engagement with the Black and minority ethnic community. It is clearly to the advantage of both local criminal justice boards and Yots that they work together to further their aims in these areas of common interest. Yot managers also recognise that attending board meetings gives them a chance to air their views with senior national government officials who, on occasion, attend local criminal justice boards, as well as giving them direct access to senior figures within the local youth justice community. It also provides them with early access to information on planned developments within the Criminal Justice System. Local criminal justice boards Local criminal justice boards were launched in April 2003, with one for each of the 42 criminal justice areas in England and Wales. They replaced area criminal justice strategy committees, trial issues groups, chief officers groups and criminal justice boards. Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 3

4 Local criminal justice boards are responsible to the National Criminal Justice Board for the local achievement of targets. In their first year (2003/04), their priorities were: bringing more offences to justice tackling persistent offending improving public confidence in the Criminal Justice System the Street Crime Initiative. In order to focus attention on achieving specific objectives and encouraging partnership, membership of local criminal justice boards is being restricted to those bearing key responsibility for the delivery of criminal justice targets. These include: Yots chief police officers the Crown Prosecution Service magistrates courts the Crown Court Probation the Prison Service. 1 Local criminal justice boards are supported by: central government a team of performance advisers a computer-based information management system, the Joint Performance Information Tool performance officers (one for each area). Boards also consult widely with the criminal justice community in order to assess the impact of the decisions they make. 1 For the most part, it will be Yot managers that represent Yots on local criminal justice boards, in view of the senior status of other members. Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 4

5 Targets and priorities Local criminal justice boards have been set four targets for 2005/06: execution of failure to appear (FTA) warrants The courts have a national target to notify the police of 90% of FTA warrants within one working day of issue, with 100% notified within three working days. Areas are being asked to set local targets, in consultation with the relevant agencies, for a reduction in the absolute number of outstanding FTA warrants (not broken down by category). These targets will be supported by data on timeliness of execution, expressed as a proportion of warrants issued. enforcement of financial penalties The national target is to achieve an average payment rate, for financial impositions, of 81%. asset recovery To secure 2,200 orders worth 68 million. To reduce the outstanding balance rate to 50% for Confiscation Orders made under the Proceeds of Crime Act To reduce the number of collectable outstanding orders over 12 months old by 25%. community penalties This is to ensure breaches of community penalties are resolved in an average of 35 working days from the second unacceptable absence, and to enable 50% of breaches to be resolved within 25 working days of the second unacceptable absence. The target will come into effect in October 2005 and, for the first year, it needs to be achieved by the final quarter (end of financial year 2005/06). Youth offending team representation Opportunities The objectives of Yots and local criminal justice boards are more complementary than they may first appear, and Yot representation on boards and their sub-groups 2 can bring a range of benefits, as illustrated by the following: 2 Boards appoint sub-groups to deal, in greater depth, with particular issues such as improving public confidence (see p.9 for further details). Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 5

6 I sit on the local criminal justice board, and chair the Witness Care Unit 3 and, thus, have had a real input on the development of victim issues and ensuring our restorative justice activity dovetails with new requirements. Local managers in this Yot sit on the various sub-groups, and this has led to improved delivery in respect of targets, and court sittings meeting Youth Justice Board National Standards for PSRs [pre-sentence reports]. The working relationships and capacity to problem-solve issues of joint concern has been greatly enhanced. (Head of Youth Justice, Norfolk) 4 Participation over the last two years has provided a number of opportunities to raise the profile of youth justice, and to make the links between criminal justice agencies and preventative services, including work by district, borough and unitary councils to prevent anti-social behaviour by young people. We have: agreed a set of key principles for the management of anti-social behaviour by young people [copies of these are available from Wessex Yot] provided grants to our 14 crime and disorder reduction partnerships to enable them to purchase a database so that they can monitor the use of Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and other activities relating to anti-social behaviour. In addition, the board has provided the Yot with opportunities to: co-operate with efforts to raise public confidence in criminal justice services gain access to consultation mechanisms with Black and minority ethnic communities through our Race for Justice project. In relation to the Persistent and Other Priority Offenders Strategy, the board has established a steering group with some chief executives of district and borough councils, to help ensure greater consistency in the approach we take to all three strands of the Prolific and Other Priority Offenders Strategy across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, where there are 14 crime and disorder reduction partnerships. (Wessex Yot) 3 Witness Care Units have been established by local criminal justice boards as part of the No Witness, No Justice scheme, which is a joint initiative sponsored by the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Office for Criminal Justice Reform. 4 If you would like to speak to the Yot managers or local criminal justice boards who supplied the case studies and emerging practice examples contained in this guidance, in the first instance, please contact your regional manager so that he or she can co-ordinate the enquiries. Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 6

7 Resources In comparison with the other agencies represented on boards, Yots are relatively small, and have limited resources, which are often ringfenced for particular purposes. They also have fewer staff. In addition, Yots are involved in the wider agendas of community safety and children s services, all of which stretch their resources. However, there is a great deal of common ground between the work done by Yots, and the aims of local criminal justice boards. As a result, the use of Yot resources can often benefit the local criminal justice board, as well as the Yot itself. An example of this was in Kent, where a gap-year student was employed to find out young people s views on the youth justice system. This included establishing focus groups and commissioning a MORI poll, and contributed to the work of the improving public confidence sub-group. The work Yots do with the voluntary sector also helps improve public confidence, and draws millennium volunteers, mediators, youth offender panel members, mentors and many others into a greater involvement with, and understanding of, the youth justice system. In Wessex, for example, youth offender panel members have developed a resource pack so that they can give presentations on the youth justice system to neighbourhood watch groups and other community organisations. Offences brought to justice At first glance, there is an apparent conflict, here, in as much as Yots aim to reduce the number of first-time entrants into the youth justice system by identifying children and young people at risk of offending or involvement in anti-social behaviour, and working to reduce those risks in order to bring down offending rates. The government s target for narrowing the justice gap, on the other hand, commits local criminal justice boards to increasing the number of offences for which offenders are brought to justice. It is worth noting, however, that Yots focus on offenders, while the government target deals with offences. The former reduces the pool of offenders; the latter ensures that more of those who do offend are brought to justice. Indeed, the annual youth justice surveys conducted by MORI show that being caught, or knowing a young person who has been caught, is a major factor in deterring young people from offending or reoffending. Differences in geographical boundaries Yot areas and local criminal justice board areas are not generally the same. This can cause problems in terms of identifying the best person to consult with or invite to a meeting, as well as creating problems for individual Yot managers, who have to speak for a large number of other teams. Finally, it creates problems in engaging Yot managers who are not members of the local criminal justice board. Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 7

8 One way of overcoming this difficulty is for a manager from one Yot to speak on behalf of a group of Yot managers on a range of agreed issues. In Thames Valley, this has proved particularly effective, and the representing Yot manager has found that, when he has had to consult other managers before committing to a decision, it has been quite easy to do so quickly, and has not caused delays in decision-making. This has proved an effective means of ensuring that all Yot managers are informed and engaged, and that resources are used efficiently. Another approach is for two Yot managers to attend local criminal justice board meetings alternately. This lessens the burden for each, while ensuring full coverage, although there is a risk of a lack of continuity, and the full benefits of engaging with the board may be missed. There is also no reason why the position of Yot representative on the local criminal justice board could not rotate between Yots in a given criminal justice area. Local protocols regarding terms of reference for representation, consultation and decisionmaking, such as those developed in Wiltshire, can help to avoid confusion in this area. Responsibilities Although local criminal justice boards are primarily responsible for achieving objectives such as the persistent young offenders pledge, as well as hitting the offences brought to justice and improving confidence targets, Yots share responsibility for delivering them. Local criminal justice boards should, in fact, largely be achieving the persistent young offenders pledge and the swift administration of youth cases through Yots. In addition, Yots should also be in charge of the prevent and deter strand of the Prolific and Other Priority Offenders Strategy. Yots will also be held to account in the same way as other agencies for their performance in enforcing community penalties for young offenders. Yots are advised to discuss this with their local criminal justice board, and come to a common understanding of the part they can play. Ways in which Yots can contribute to these objectives, some of which will be in place already, include drawing up agreements: with local courts for set hearing days for breach cases for courts to ask the Yot worker/young person at each hearing whether the young person, from the outset, has been encouraged to seek legal advice so that Yot workers can challenge defence requests for adjournments, where appropriate. Other ways in which Yots can help include: informing young people of the breach hearing date within the same period as for adults (two working days from the beginning of breach proceedings) revising or establishing local protocols between relevant agencies to deal with breaches Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 8

9 ensuring that PSRs are prepared on schedule. Role of the Youth Justice Board Youth Justice Board regional managers support the Yot manager on the local criminal justice board, although boards should communicate directly with Yot managers rather than regional ones. 5 In order to support effective participation, Youth Justice Board regional managers will bring together Yot managers on local criminal justice boards in their region at regular intervals in order to share good practice. This may also provide a useful forum for discussing further models for engagement. 6 Working in partnership Chairing local criminal justice boards Strategically, there would be a lot to be gained by Yot managers becoming chairs in a small number of areas. There are, of course, resource implications; but good local criminal justice board support back-up, in the form of a local secretariat, is available to the chair, whichever agency he or she comes from. This would largely overcome any problems of capacity. Also, in areas where a Yot manager chaired the local criminal justice board, support roles could be assigned to other Yot managers yet another means of sharing the burden. Sub-groups Local criminal justice boards appoint sub-groups to examine particular issues and, since the membership of these is not restricted to local criminal justice board members, Yot managers not on the local board can sit on the sub-groups. This is a good way of engaging and informing all the Yots in a given area of the local criminal justice board agenda and its relevance to their work. Improving public confidence sub-groups are particularly effective in this respect. The main issue is that all Yots should take on responsibility for engaging with their local criminal justice board. Joint strategic planning, financing and supervision of projects Local criminal justice boards and Yots, with support from Youth Justice Board regional managers, may wish to consider holding joint-planning events. These give both bodies the opportunity to explore shared priorities, and to determine the best ways of tackling them. 5 The exception to this rule is in London, where there are 32 Yots within the one local criminal justice board area. As a result, the regional manager sits on the local criminal justice board. 6 The government-sponsored yearly event, Inside Justice Week, was seen by Yot managers as an important way of engaging with local criminal justice boards. Yots should try to make the most of the opportunities this initiative offers. Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 9

10 To make working together easier and more effective, local criminal justice board members should attend Yot strategic management board meetings for specific discussions, where necessary. This will not always be possible, but anecdotal evidence suggests that attendance at key meetings helps to ensure the co-ordination of operations and strategy. 7 Some local criminal justice boards and crime and disorder reduction partnerships/community safety partnerships have begun to explore ways of jointly sponsoring initiatives such as persistent offender projects or domestic violence schemes. In some areas, project co-ordinators have been jointly financed by crime and disorder reduction partnerships/community safety partnerships and local criminal justice boards to help deliver projects of common interest. Where Yots are unable to help fund this kind of initiative, they can frequently offer resources in kind. Communications and sharing information Yots and local criminal justice boards share target audiences, including: staff across Criminal Justice System agencies voluntary organisations local media community groups young people local authorities. Both local criminal justice boards and Yots have communication channels (such as newsletters and consultation forums) that could be used to promote shared interests and activity. One Thames Valley Yot, for example, used the local criminal justice board display at a youth justice event to disseminate information, so reinforcing the notion that youth justice is an integral part of the local criminal justice board agenda; it gave clear messages to the public that the two are related. Another example of how this can work is demonstrated by the following: To avoid overlap, we have also been raising issues about Yot responsibility for victim work so that the No Witness, No Justice Witness Care Units do not duplicate what we already offer. This approach has used local criminal justice board sub-groups as the forum for discussion and debate. (Milton Keynes Yot manager) 7 Other youth justice groups at which attendance by a local criminal justice board representative may be useful are anti-social behaviour forums and selected stakeholder forums. The precise nature of such groups will vary, but the arrangements in most areas will be similar. The Yot representative on each local criminal justice board will be able to indicate the most relevant meetings and forums in each case, as well as highlighting key events of particular importance. Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 10

11 There is also scope for Yots and local criminal justice boards to create joint media strategies to mutual benefit particularly in strengthening public confidence in the system: We are heavily involved in the public confidence agenda, and work closely with the PR officer attached to the local criminal justice board, which promotes the work of the Yot, other criminal justice agencies and the local criminal justice board in general. We are launching our new Witness Care Unit in March and, as chair of the sub-group, I will have a high profile at this event. (Head of Youth Justice, Norfolk) Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 11

12 Appendix A Useful contacts Prolific and Other Priority Offenders Implementation Team The team is supervising the implementation of the new strategy to tackle those offenders who are causing most harm to their local communities. Full details of the programme and supporting guidance can be found at You can also call Gregg Mead on , or Bernard Lane of the Prevent and Deter team at Office for Criminal Justice Reform Communications Unit Guidance on communications across the Criminal Justice System is available on the secure site at This was developed primarily for local criminal justice boards, but is relevant to Yots as well. The guidance includes: board communication toolkit: why communication matters? practical advice on planning and implementing a communication strategy board communication campaign packs: background information communications material on key Criminal Justice System themes, which can be tailored to local areas pack containing ideas for staff engagement activities. You can contact the Office for Criminal Justice Reform Communication Unit by post at: 1st Floor, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF. Information on the Criminal Justice System can be found at The site contains victim and juror virtual walkthroughs, as well as material on Criminal Justice System reform programmes and a dedicated area for local criminal justice boards. The Youth Justice Board website (www.youth-justice-board.gov.uk) provides information and guidance on the youth justice system; preventing crime and the fear of crime; reducing reoffending; and dealing with young offenders. Youth Justice Board for England and Wales 12

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