Dr Anna Souhami, Lecturer in Criminology, has led an extended workshop at a meeting of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) to explore options for its future role and direction.
The YJB is the central government body responsible for youth justice in England and Wales, with oversight of all parts of the system and responsibility for advising the Secretary of State on its operation. Board meetings are its highest level strategic arena.
The workshop drew on lessons from Dr Souhami's research on the operation of the YJB, which forms the basis of a study of policymaking in English and Welsh youth justice.
In 2010, the UK Coalition Government announced its decision to abolish the YJB as part of its Public Bodies Act. However, objections across the public sector and an eventual rebellion in the House of Lords resulted in a reprieve for the YJB on the final reading of the Bill. For the moment, the continuation of the YJB has been assured but it is unlikely to remain in its current form.
Dr Souhami has argued that the central structures of youth justice systems are of crucial importance for youth justice outcomes, and it is important that responsibility for youth justice continues to be held outside government departments.
The workshop set out the challenges ahead for the YJB and the potential options for a changing role in the next parliament.