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Assess and re-prioritise what works in youth offending

Comment 10th August 2010

I have worked in youth offending in london for a number of years. In recent years it seems that the workers who undertake what most would consider the fundamental work such a cognitive/behavioural work with young people has not been promoted and supported. Instead, we have had a raft of 'initiatives' and 'projects/workshops' which, although well meaning seem to me to not provide either value for money, or the desired outcome of pro-social young people ready to contribute to the mainstream. My point is how many DJs does Britain need? Every youth offending service that I know of has such schemes, and there are countless other agencies involved with young people who rely heavily on these types of activities to keep young people 'positively' enaged. I would question whether such courses are not more for those who deliver them. What benefit apart from providing a reasonable pleasant pasttime does this provide. In my lengthy time working with young people I have not encountered anyone who has used this effectively in order to set themselves up in a self sufficient way. There will be examples of this of course but how many is my point!

Whilst major collective resources are being poured into these provisions, I defy you to try to get decent accommodation for a homeless young person in the capital. It is an absolute nightmare and such an indictment of our system.

Those who work in youth justice have been bombarded in recent years with targets, but also the new Labour philosophy of spin seems to have been adopted by youth offending agencies and other services with which we are closely involved. Many feel that they can tell people that x number have been taught to DJ etc whilst they skim over issues such as housing, out of school education provision. That is because this is the difficult stuff and is not as 'funky' as teaching someone how to mix or rap.

When one looks at the labour market I do not see hundreds of adverts for MCs but I do see a lot of opportunities in the retail sector. In my opinion this is where we shoudl be diverting our attention and resources. I also feel that a good stock of supported housing is desperately required and would suggest that YOTs and other agencies are persuaded to change tack.

I am not suggesting that music is not good for young people but there are plenty of voluntary groups and organisations that are free to young people that they can be encouraged to access. Our budgets should be spent on what matters, quality offending behaviour programmes and good traiing for staff, and also more generally on housing and out of school education provision.

Why does this matter?

It can save much needed money and re-allocate it to areas that WILL reduce reoffending and also fulfil the 5 elements of every child matters

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