Learning from the Swansea Youth Offender Service

Yesterday the Partnership Overview and Scrutiny Committee had a presentation from Eddie Isles, the Youth Offending Team Manager, on how the Youth Offending Service works in Swansea.

In case you don’t know, here is the service in a nutshell:

Swansea Youth Offending Service is a multi-agency approach to youth offending. The staff group comprises of social workers, probation officers, health and education workers and police officers. Their task is to work together to reduce youth offending within the City and County of Swansea; to promote positive behaviour.

Here is the presentation.

View more presentations from Dave Mckenna.

 

The committee were pleased to hear that this partnership was really working well, ahead of the game in Wales and attracting interest across the rest of the UK.  The stats showing what has been achieved over the last 10 years were really very impressive:

  • Youth crime reports down 75% from 2000+ to 500
  • Vehicle theft reports reduced from 200 to 10
  • Domestic burglary from over 50 to 12
  • Remands to custody and L.A. from over 60 to 2
  • Custodial sentences from over 70 to 5
  • Defined persistent offenders from 200 to 15

The presentation raised some interesting issues and a led to some some good questions and debate.  Issues included:

  • How the service was balancing prevention against ‘treatment’ and the importance of doing this – including the savings that can be made by keeping young people out of the justice system
  • Whether local or national factors had the biggest impact on the statistics
  • How the ‘car crime problem’ had been tackled
  • How drug and alcohol misuse problems are addressed by the team – the impact of police drug operations
  • Work with schools and promoting peer led approaches
  • The need for better research
  • The relationship between literacy and youth offending
  • Links with other youth offender services around the country
  • How parental responsibility is absolutely critical
  • Impact of the removal of the Youth Justice Board
  • Links to mental health services
  • The absolute necessity of partnership working for a successful youth offender service

It is this last point that I think is the most telling.  Eddy mentioned more than once how the whole was greater than the sum of its parts and talked about how, in the early days of tackling the car crime problem in Swansea, everyone with any possible connection to the issue, regardless of who they worked for, met at a local golf club and thrashed out an action plan that really did make a difference.  This approach seems to have been success factor during the last 10 years as well.

So, lessons to be learnt – not just for those working with young people but for anyone working in partnerships perhaps?

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