Review of youth custody standards announced

Neil Puffett
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Guidelines for how staff should work with young offenders in custody are set to be relaxed in a bid to improve practice, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) has announced.

The organisation said a trial would take place to see whether staff should be given more freedom to decide how they work with young offenders in custody, as part of a wider “re-launch” of the role of the YJB.

Lucy Dawes, deputy chief executive of the YJB, said a consultation with secure providers and youth offending teams would lead to “some relaxation” around what national standards should be in place for under-18s in custody.

The changes could lead to certain requirements around a young person’s custody plan or resettlement plan being dropped if they are considered unnecessarily burdensome or bureaucratic.

Dawes stressed that the move is not intended to cut costs and will not affect standards relating to child protection or safety. The custodial standards will be tested in December, prior to being adopted in April next year.

The new custody standards will form part of a tranche of measures being adopted that will change the YJB’s role in relation to local authorities.

The revised YJB “offer” involves “lighter-touch” monitoring of performance, with the aim of allowing frontline professionals to spend more time working with young offenders.

Meanwhile national standards governing requirements that youth offending teams must follow are to be relaxed from April next year, once a year-long trial comes to an end.

Dawes said the new offer attempts to find a balance between greater local discretion and the need to maintain a degree of oversight.

“There is always a risk when you move to a lighter-touch system,” Dawes said. “You worry what’s going on that you don’t know about. That’s a risk you have to take when you allow local areas to determine what they want to do.”

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