HC Deb 13 June 2002 vol 386 cc1418-20W
Mrs. Brooke

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment has been made of restorative justice programmes in cutting re-offending by young offenders in each of the police authorities in the UK since 1997. [58889]

Mr. Hilary Benn

Recent Home Office research has included "An Exploratory Evaluation of Restorative Justice Schemes" by David Miers et al (2001). More recently (May 2002), the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published "An Evaluation of the Implementation and Effectiveness of an Initiative in Restorative Cautioning" in the Thames Valley Police area. And the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales has funded an evaluation of 46 restorative justice projects, the results of which are not yet available. We are not aware of any research which is broken down by police authority.

Mrs. Brooke

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of promoting an increase in the number of solicitors specialising in youth justice cases as a means of decreasing levels of crime and re-offending. [58857]

Mr. Hilary Benn

We have considered with the Law Society strategies to promote a high quality service for youth justice cases. We are keen to see extension of the existing specialisation of solicitors in some areas, but this is more difficult to achieve outside large metropolitan areas. For many practices it would be uneconomic and impractical to focus simply on youth work and most undertake a mix of adult and youth work.

We do consider it important that defence lawyers should be sufficiently well trained and competent to act for all their clients, including youths. Training in youth work is therefore being given greater emphasis. I particularly commend the recent Law Society guide to the youth court, produced with the help of the Youth Justice Board.

Mrs. Brooke

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the Chief of Youth Justice Board to discuss issues relating to youth justice. [58849]

Mr. Hilary Benn

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Blunkett) last met the Chair of the Youth Justice Board to discuss issues related to youth justice on Wednesday 29 May 2002.

Mrs. Brooke

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes organised by(a) the Youth Justice Board and (b) in conjunction with the Youth Justice Board. [58850]

Mr. Hilary Benn

The Home Office sponsored Youth Justice Board is responsible for the development of effective practice and intervention programmes across the youth justice system. Evaluation reports on a range of these programmes are currently being prepared. They will be used to provide effective practice guidance to youth justice practitioners.

The Home Office is also preparing an assessment of the effectiveness of the youth justice reforms in reducing juvenile offender reconviction rates. Results are due to be published later this year.

Harry Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what benefit to the residents of Leyton and Wanstead the actions and policies of the Chairman of the Government's Youth Justice Board has been; and if he will make a statement. [60323]

Mr. Hilary Benn

Leyton and Wanstead is covered by two Youth Offending Teams (Yots)—Waltham Forest and Redbridge. Both teams have benefited significantly from the Home Office sponsored Youth Justice Board (YJB) in a number of ways.

The two Yots are receiving grant funding in 2002–03 from the YJB for general youth justice services, referral orders and substance misuse work. Waltham Forest is receiving grants totalling £229,048 and Redbridge grants totalling £184,066.

The funding for substance misuse work will ensure that both Yots have access to a named drugs worker. Every young person who comes into contact with either Yot will be assessed with regard to substance misuse. The named drugs worker will provide intervention and referral to specialist agencies and services.

The YJB also provided funding of approximately £250,000 between 1999 and 2002 to AMENDS, a restorative justice project covering Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Enfield and Haringey. The project is receiving further funding from the Board of £80,000 between 2001 and 2004.

Redbridge Yot is receiving funding totalling £74,000 to operate a bail supervision and support scheme funded up to March 2004. The Yot is also receiving approximately £278,000 between 2001 and 2004 to operate a minority ethnic mentoring project.

Neither area currently is covered by the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP). However, the YJB has been provided with additional funding of £4.5 million in response to the Street Crime Initiative to ensure all Yots in the 10 Street Crime Areas are covered. All the Outer London Yots, including Waltham Forest and Redbridge will be covered by these additional schemes. It is expected that they will have access to an ISSP scheme by Autumn 2002.

Both Waltham Forest and Redbridge Yots are operating Splash Activity Schemes in Loxford and Chingford Hall during 2002. The schemes are aimed at providing young people in disadvantaged neighbourhoods across England and Wales with positive leisure activities during the 2000 February and Whitsun half terms and Easter and Summer school holidays. Each scheme has received a grant of £18,000 from the YJB to operate throughout these holiday periods.

Waltham Forest Yot has also been approached to run five Splash Extra Schemes during Summer 2002. Splash Extra is being funded by the New Opportunities Fund and managed by the YJB. The initiative differs from regular Splash as it targets 9 to 17 year olds. Schemes are based in street crime hot spots identified by the Street Crime Action Team. Each scheme will receive funding of £25,000. Waltham Forest Yot is due to submit their application to the YJB shortly.

There is also a Positive Futures project operating on the Beaumont and Oliver Close estates in Leyton which commenced in January 2002. Positive Futures is managed by YJB and aims to use sport to reduce antisocial behaviour, offending and drug misuse amongst 10 to 16 year olds from disadvantaged estates and neighbourhoods. The project is receiving funding of £117,000 per annum for two years.