The committee to receive a presentation on the work/impact of the Children First initiative;
and verbal feedback from the visit to Gloucestershire by HMIP as part of their thematic inspection on youth resettlement.
36.1 Kate Langley, Head of Youth Offending Service (YOS), gave a detailed presentation on the aims, objectives and outcomes (so far) of the Children First scheme. (For information the presentation slides were uploaded to the council’s website and included in the minute book.)
36.2 The committee also received a detailed presentation of the Youth Justice Plan by the Director Partnerships and Strategy. This plan also outlined the findings of the visit to Gloucestershire by HMIP (Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons) as part of their thematic inspection on youth resettlement. In response to a question the committee was assured that the ACEs checklist was built into the system, but it was acknowledged that this aspect and mental health support could be more explicit within the Action Plan.
36.3 Committee members were impressed with the outcomes achieved by the Children First scheme, and expressed their support of this work. Members were particularly impressed with the positive impact on the number of first time entrants and reoffending rates; and the focus being to see the child first and the offender second. The committee acknowledged that given the perception from the general public that all crimes should be prosecuted it had been a significant move to take this restorative approach forward. The impact of this scheme on a young person’s life chances should not be underestimated.
36.4 A member stated that the committee should be outraged that young people have to go to the Parc Youth Offending Institute (YOI) in Bridgend, Wales; this was a two and a half hour journey. He also drew attention to the observations/criticisms from the thematic inspection. He also reiterated his concerns regarding the use of cells overnight for young people and welcomed Ms Langley’s assurance that a transfer protocol was now in place with the Police on this matter and that the numbers had reduced.
36.5 Ms Langley acknowledged the concerns regarding Parc YOI and did not disagree with them. She informed the committee that the YOS did often transport families to Parc YOI to visit a family member. She also explained that the number of YOI establishments had been reduced and that Parc was the facility identified for young offenders from Gloucestershire.
36.6 The member also raised concerns with regard to the awareness of Children First across all Police Officers. His experience was that some Police Officers claimed that they were not aware of this initiative. As a solicitor this presented difficulties for him as it impacted on the advice he was able to give to his client. Members were disappointed that there remained officers who were not aware of this office. Ms Langley informed the committee that there had initially been some resourcing challenges but a full time coordinator was now in place, and there was now a presence in Police Stations seven days a week and it was hoped that this would help with these situations. She also explained that Children First was included in the induction training for new recruits and in divisional training events.
36.7 In response to a question it was explained that Police key performance indicators/targets were not adversely affected by the Children First scheme. It was also explained that work was in place with Victim Support to support the victims of crime. Work was also undertaken to review the victim’s journey; Restorative Gloucestershire also received feedback from victims of crime.
36.8 The committee supported and endorsed the Children First scheme, and also noted the Youth Justice Plan and agreed to receive an update on progress of the Plan at a future meeting.