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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.

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.

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.

Resilience prevails amid Osborne's bleak choices

Like a piercing, bitter English winter, Chancellor George Osbourne's "autumn statement" was eye-wateringly harsh. It is, without doubt, children and young people growing up in the most deprived households who are being asked to bear the brunt.

Shhh... Every Child Matters lives on

Watch out, the language police are about. An internal Department for Education memo lists 30 terms the government wants consigned to history, and the words that should be used in their place. Many relate directly to children's services.

Surviving on the inside

I smiled at the recent finding by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons that a significant number of prisoners declare themselves to be Muslims because that way they get better food.

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".

Outstanding challenge for Ofsted

Ofsted-bashing has been on the rise for several months. Cries of exasperation over the way the children's services inspectorate goes about its business have come in fits and starts from all quarters.

Embarrassing custody rates require creative solutions

The high number of young people held in youth custody in England and Wales has been a cause of national embarrassment. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has quite rightly raised concerns at the levels of young people held in our youth jails in its recent reports. Despite impressive reductions in recent years, more than 2,000 under-18s were in custody in May.

Steps towards child-friendly justice

The Council of Europe is drawing up guidelines on child-friendly justice for member states, as we reveal this week. They cover not just the youth justice system but all elements of justice, from the family courts to care proceedings.

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).

Commissioner for Wales is up to the challenge

It was an "exceedingly drawn-out" appointments process, according to one Welsh politician. But Keith Towler came through the interviews, both with young people and politicians, to secure the position of children's commissioner for Wales, just under a year after the untimely death of his predecessor Peter Clarke.

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