Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Local Government and Government Business
Welsh Government, in partnership with the Youth Justice Board, has achieved a great deal in recent years through targeted prevention programmes and restorative alternatives to charging. The number of first time entrants into the youth justice system continues to fall and the number of children and young people in custody is the lowest ever recorded being 50 in 2013. However, reoffending rates are now rising due, in part, to the fewer children in the youth justice system having more concentrated levels of complex needs and more persistent patterns of offending.
Over a third of young people in the Welsh youth justice cohort in 2010 reoffended within 12 months, and this continues to increase.
There are many examples of children who fall into the Youth Justice system due to unmet needs. A White Paper Consultation, “Prevention of Offending by Young People” has been launched today. The proposals will provide the opportunity to strengthen our support for these young people and help them to break the cycle of reoffending.
The proposals for an Assembly Bill will focus on the specific group of young people who are at the greatest risk of reoffending and progressing further through the youth justice system into custody. It will also ensure effective resettlement at the end of a custodial sentence to give young people the best chance for the future. A core proposal in the Bill will be the establishment of Regional Reintegration and Resettlement Partnerships which will be key to ensuring the needs of these young people are identified and met.
We should be proud of what we have achieved so far, however, a new approach is required if we are to effectively tackle these more challenging cases.
This Bill provides a unique opportunity to establish the specific support needed to prevent reoffending and help young people overcome the barriers they face.
The consultation document can be accessed online.
I look forward to considering the consultation responses which are sought by 30 April 2014.