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Sector must influence the coalition

They say that a week is a long time in politics. Quite. As predicted in these pages for many months, the new Tory Secretary of State Michael Gove has renamed the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) as the Department for Education.

Editorial: Mentors give hope to young people in custody

Among the myriad challenges of transforming young lives, rehabilitation of young offenders will always be among the toughest. The number of 16- to 25-year-olds behind bars has soared by one-third in the past decade while the majority go on to reoffend, reflecting the enormity of the task.

Help young people learn the right three Rs

There are always attempts at slick alliteration in the policy field, such as the four Ps that inform The Children's Plan. And there are plenty of alternatives to the traditional three Rs. Two sets are currently pertinent: the Responsibility, Restoration and Re-integration that has framed youth justice over the past decade; and the Respect, Revenge and Revenue that are sometimes used to explain the rise of gang culture and the use of knives and guns. They are not quite mirror images but they are, arguably, close.

Let's be clear about deaths in custody

Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. The other week, on the radio during primetime news, I listened to one of the most disingenuous debates I have ever heard that confirmed this mantra to a tee. Regrettably, it concerned the sensitive and emotive topic of deaths in custody.

Action needed to help girls in custody

A decade ago, there was an average of 166 girls in custody at any one time. Now there are only 28, a more rapid fall than that for boys. This is good news, of course, but a recent report by Pippa Goodfellow, director of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, highlights why there is no room for complacency. Here are three reasons why.

Election result prolongs uncertainty

At the time of writing -- on the historically uncertain afternoon of Friday 7 May -- the Conservatives were about to enter into negotiations with the Liberal Democrats about helping them to form a government.

Every Child Matters faces biggest test

The Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) pledged, in its annual report last week, to assess and build on the progress of Every Child Matters (ECM) for the next five years, as a policy priority for the coming 12 months. It is a good priority to hold, particularly given the uncertainty ahead.

Another threat to local youth justice

Jack Straw's proposal to send in "experts" to take over failing youth offending teams (YOTs), contained in last month's progress report on the Youth Crime Action Plan, flies in the face of a fundamental principle of the youth justice system after it was reformed in 1998. Straw himself was paradoxically the pioneer of those reforms.

Wounds still healing in Northern Ireland

The Real IRA and the Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for the recent murders of soldiers and a police officer in Northern Ireland. But as they are perceived to be destabilising the peace settlement, it is important to hold on to the phenomenal progress that has been made in the province since the darkest days of the Troubles.

Editorial: Care in custody will reduce violence

Our lead story this week uncovers the real extent of violence in young offender institutions (YOIs) over the past three years. The figures come from the Ministry of Justice, nearly 15 months after we requested the data under the Freedom of Information Act.

We need a community approach to custody

The recent pressure on the "juvenile secure estate" - the young offender institutions, secure training centres and secure children's homes where remanded and convicted young people are sent - should have concentrated many minds.

Booze Asbos won't change behaviour

So many policy issues and concerns have crystallised around the new Drinking Banning Orders, which came into force on the last day of August, that it is difficult to know where to start. And the ensuing disquiet from many quarters is not just pertinent to these "booze Asbos" or "alcobos" (alcohol banning orders) as I prefer to call them.

A new approach to tackling knife crime

"It's what you do. It's what your friends do, isn't it?" Jay is 16, has been involved in gang culture and is one of the many young people who feel it is necessary to carry a weapon for protection.

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