Youth Offending Team (YOT) funding cuts could increase the number of children in custody, council leaders warn.
The Local Government Association (LGA) is warning that the unexpected cuts of £9m to in-year funding for YOTs, which come on top of savings identified by the Youth Justice Board, will have a severe impact on already agreed plans.
The LGA said these cuts could be counter-productive and end up costing more in the long run because of the increased likelihood of young offenders entering the youth justice system.
YOTs, in conjunction with local councils, have played a significant role in reducing the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system. Over the past decade first time offenders have decreased from 88,403 (2003/4) to 22,393 (2013/14), a drop of 75%.
In recent years, YOTs have had to find efficiency savings to cope with 40% less funding. Council leaders feel further cuts will impact upon the ability of councils and youth justice teams to work with young offenders, tackle gang and youth crime and engage young people in their communities.
Councils believe that further budget reductions will mean court ordered interventions will have to be prioritised over preventative work or community-based responses.
Cllr Roy Perry, chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: ‘With the increase in the types of violent incidents young people are involved in, the work of YOTs are more important than ever to local communities and are an effective way of addressing youth crime and youth violence.’
‘A further £9m funding reduction,’ he warned, ‘is likely to be counterproductive and will undoubtedly have a major effect on the amount of diversionary and the vital preventive work that has enabled YOTs to bring down the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system and lower reoffending rates.’