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Cuts could enhance joint working

The party conference season is over and national politics is destined for a surreal few months in the run-up to the general election. Expect plenty more short-term children's policy announcements - some even eye- catching - as the main parties try to outmanoeuvre each other to strike a popular chord. Politics in Westminster will become increasingly sensationalised and polarised.

Focus of spending must be balanced

It's official: the UK spends more money on child welfare and education than the average market economy. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report out last week, we spend just over 90,000 per child from birth to 18 compared to an OECD average among 30 member countries of just under 80,000.

Young people in custody matter too

A government-commissioned review into the use of restraint in the youth prison system reported last December that force must be used as a "last resort".

The next commissioner needs bite

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has fired the starting gun to recruit a children's commissioner for England to succeed Sir Al Aynsley-Green early next year.

Cost of custody should be devolved

The current system of placing children in prison operates under a perverse financial incentive. Local authorities, which are responsible for a range of prevention and early intervention work to divert the young from crime, are essentially rewarded for their failures. If children are sentenced to custody, they no longer pick up the tab for their welfare.

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.

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.

Youth crime demands a mature approach

The Youth Crime Action Plan was being drafted frantically as CYP Now went to press. This keenly anticipated document is the most high-profile piece of children's policy this year.

Editorial: A tough decade for the youth justice system

The youth justice system is under heightened scrutiny as we approach the tenth anniversary of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, which created the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) alongside local youth offending teams (YOTs).

Editorial: YJB chair must stand up to political heat

The government has at last ended its search for a permanent chair of the Youth Justice Board (see p7). Frances Done's appointment rounds off a turbulent 12 months for the YJB, for it was this very week last year that Rod Morgan resigned the post.

Prevention, not detention, must come first

Children's Secretary Ed Balls last week told CYP Now that he wants to "strengthen the role the youth justice system can play in preventing youth crime." His words were welcome. But they need to be backed up with action.

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