One in three police commissioners 'not funding youth crime prevention'

Tristan Donovan
Monday, November 27, 2017

More than a third of police and crime commissioners do not fund youth crime prevention initiatives, a government study has found.

Police and crime commissioners were identified as the largest source of funding for prevention work by just 11 per cent YOTs
Police and crime commissioners were identified as the largest source of funding for prevention work by just 11 per cent YOTs

A survey by the Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board found that, according to youth offending teams (YOTs), 59 per cent of police and crime commissioners fund prevention initiatives in their area - leaving 41 per cent that do not.

Overall PCCs were identified as the largest source of funding for prevention work by just 11 per cent YOTs.

Police and crime commissioners have been responsible for local policing since November 2012, taking charge of large pots of public money, including some that previously went straight to youth offending teams.

The survey found that 97 per cent of YOTs run youth crime prevention programmes despite not being required by law. Projects include family support work, restorative justice, and youth inclusion and support panels (YISPs).

Two thirds (66 per cent) of the 104 YOTs surveyed reported using their own budgets to fund prevention work - slightly higher than the figure reporting police and crime commissioner contributions.

A total of 48 per cent of YOTs said they receive funding from their local Troubled Families or Families First programmes, while 46 per cent reported receiving contributions from local authorities.

YOTs said the largest proportion of overall funding came from their wider local authority in 1 per cent of cases, followed by YOTs themselves in 2 per cent of cases.

YOTs have faced shrinking budgets in recent years following cutbacks in central government funding. In 2016/17 the annual budget for YOTs was £67m, down 12 per cent on the previous year.

The survey was conducted as part of a government commitment to carry out an audit of prevention initiatives and then collate best practice across the system to inform further preventative work at national and local levels.

The vast majority of YOTs (77 per cent) told the survey that a lack of funding was the biggest hindrance to their ability to do crime prevention work. An additional 42 per cent saw the lack of a central prevention strategy as a barrier.

The YOTs said that experienced staff, bespoke interventions, strong engagement by the young person and their family, and effective screening and assessment are crucial factors in successful prevention work.

On average the YOTs that took part in the survey have a caseload of 140 young people, of which 30 per cent are non-statutory cases. A fifth of first-time entrants to the youth justice system have previously been involved in crime prevention projects, the survey found.

Most of the preventative work carried out by YOTs was targeted at young people involved in antisocial behaviour followed by those involved with Troubled Families/Families First programmes, young people who are aggressive towards their parents and those who use drugs and alcohol.

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