Speaking in Parliament, youth justice minister Jeremy Wright said that between 2009/10 and 2010/11, there were 835 fewer posts in youth offending teams (YOTs) in England and Wales.
He said that the figure, which is the first official national statistic to illustrate the impact of austerity measures on youth justice staffing levels, includes volunteers, part-time and temporary staff.
The figure amounts to a four per cent reduction in staff during the year. Wright said that during the same period, the number of young people supervised by YOTs dropped by 20 per cent.
Gareth Jones, newly appointed chair of the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, said he believed the figure may under-represent true staffing levels and may not take into account instances where posts have been “frozen” rather than deleted.
He added that it is likely that YOTs have been affected to at least the same level in 2011/12, and are likely to be in line for further staff reductions throughout 2012/13.
“I don’t think you can make a direct link between there being a 20 per cent reduction in caseloads, with four per cent fewer staff,” Jones said.
“YOTs have been successfully taking young people out of the system who do not need to be in it. These were young people who were not getting an awful lot in terms of services because they didn’t need it. Those requiring more services are still there. It is not a directly comparable link.
“There are also far fewer young people in custody but they have higher supervision requirements, with it being YOTs that have to do the supervision. It is not as straightforward as it may appear to the new minister.”