Helping young people at risk of offending

Cllr Kate Booth, cabinet member for children’s wellbeing, talks about the work the city council and Birmingham Children’s Trust are doing to help vulnerable young people at risk of offending.

The youth justice system works by addressing risks and all those factors that make young people vulnerable, such as family breakdown, educational under-achievement, substance misuse, mental illness and bereavement.

Our youth offending team does an amazing job, alongside partners, working with a huge number of young people and their families to reduce their chances of offending or re-offending.

An example is a young man called ‘S’, who was part of a group involved in anti-social behaviour, including intimidating local residents and using threatening words and behaviour.

After being issued with a First Warning Letter in March 2018 he was identified as a priority and he and his family agreed to engage with the anti-social behaviour (ASB) worker on early help and interventions. He engaged very well and a positive relationship was built. His behaviour at school improved, he was encouraged to attend church with his parents and this allowed him to pursue friendships outside his previous peer group. Over the last 10 months there have been no ASB sanctions.

This is just one example of so many positive interventions by our youth offending service, helping young people who didn’t have the best start in life turn their lives around. And it is important to point out that they also work with young victims of crime. There is an excellent example of a young man who was referred to a restorative practice worker (RPW) after a serious assault left him with very low confidence and self-esteem, to the point that he became extremely isolated. With the help of the RPW he got some intensive training, a job offer and is now a full-time zip-wire instructor.

It is vital we see the people involved not just numbers, but having said that, the facts and figures sitting behind these cases are important.

Our reoffending rates are one of the lowest among the core cities: 36.5% compared to 40.1% nationally. The number of young people receiving their first caution or court conviction reduced from 473 per 100,000 people in 2017, to 378 per 100,000 in 2018, an improvement of 20%.

Although Birmingham has a higher rate of custodial sentences than the national average, figures have remained relatively static over the past three years, with a slight increase from 94 to 99 over the year to 2018/1. It has however been reducing since 2007/08, when 253 young people received a custodial sentence.

More examples of what we are doing to help young people can be found in the Birmingham Youth Justice Strategic Plan 2019 - 2022

This blog was posted on 24 June 2019

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