Thursday, May 22, 2008

Addressing the Fundamentals

The latest report by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) at King's College London has once again highlighted the failings of the Justice system to reduce youth crime and re-offending, suggesting that "Targets have been missed with self-reported youth offending remaining stable. All the expenditure and activity to reduce youth crime has had no measurable impact." It added: "Claims of significant success are overstated."

Critically, there remains a fundamental failing to provide appropriate training and resources to those working with offenders and other marginalised groups. Until this is addressed, little will change. Tackling the multiple needs of those caught up in the youth justice system is extremely demanding and complex, requiring a depth of personal understanding, co-ordination, patience and interpersonal skills. Many staff simply do not have the training necessary to meet these needs.

The Government has announced that yet another Youth Crime Action Plan is to be implemented this summer. If meaningful change is to arise from such a plan, there must be greater understanding and investment in appropriate staff training to facilitate positive change. Sadly, in times of financial constraints, staff training is often one of the first programmes to be cancelled. As a result, we end up continuing to do what we have always done, wasting more money and young lives. I wonder if we will ever learn to do things differently.