Youth offending team to be based in £6.9m youth zone

By Joe Lepper

| 01 February 2018

A youth offending team will be permanently based inside a proposed state-of-the-art £6.9m youth zone in what is believed to be the first arrangement of its kind in England.

The youth zone will form part of a £24m redevelopment of Preston's Grade II listed bus station. Picture: John Puttick Associates

Since 2008, youth charity OnSide has helped establish nine youth zones in Bolton, Blackburn, Carlisle, Manchester, Oldham, Wigan, Wirral, Warrington and Wolverhampton - and is in talks to create a further 12.

It has now emerged that a proposed youth zone in Preston will be also be the base for the area's youth offending team.

A formal tender process is set to launch by the end of February to appoint an operator of the youth zone, which is to form part of a £24m redevelopment of Preston's Grade II listed bus station.

Council leader Geoff Driver said: "It's important that we make these services accessible for young people. In this case the Preston youth zone building would be situated next to the bus station, making it easier to get to. This makes it a good place to have our youth offending team.

"We also want to ensure that the young people who are helped by our youth offending team do not feel excluded. They will be able to access the same facilities at the youth zone, including help and advice to support them.

"We are also keen to make better use of our buildings by bringing services together, where those services would work well together."

The Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) has backed the move as a way of combating isolation among young offenders.

"It is good to see local services prioritising the needs of young people who offend, and the youth offending services that support those young people, alongside other youths - so often the offending becomes a reason to isolate, rather than include," AYM chair Lesley Tregear said.

"Co-location of services to meet the needs of young people in such a way is innovative and creative and something that many YOT Managers would feel is beneficial.

"Obviously local areas are aware of what works best for them but we see this as a good way to make services more accessible to communities and families."

Under the plans for the prosed youth zone the council will meet £5.9m of the construction costs, with OnSide, which is likely to be the only bidder to run the facility, to set aside £1m to cover construction and opening costs.

The Preston youth zone's £1m annual running costs are to be met through £550,000 of council funding and £450,000 from OnSide over the next three years.

The bus station location was selected for the youth zone due to its accessibility for young people in Preston and nearby areas of Lancashire.

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