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The ‘Big Society’, Youth Justice and Prospects for Change. Rod Morgan Universities of Bristol and Cardiff. CSR Concept of ‘Big Society’. Localising power and funding’, the removal of resourcing ring fences and extending use of personal budgets for service users;

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the big society youth justice and prospects for change

The ‘Big Society’, Youth Justice and Prospects for Change

Rod Morgan

Universities of Bristol and Cardiff

csr concept of big society
CSR Concept of ‘Big Society’
  • Localising power and funding’, the removal of resourcing ring fences and extending use of personal budgets for service users;
  • Cutting the burdens on frontline staff, including policing;
  • Increased diversity of provision in public services through further use of payment by results, removing barriers to greater independent provision;
  • supporting communities, citizens and volunteers to play a greater role in shaping and providing services’; and

‘You never want a serious crisis to go to waste’

Rahm Emanuel, then Obama’s Chief of Staff.

Chance to think the unthinkable, particularly if you think the key agencies ‘don’t get it’.

general interpretations of the big society
General Interpretations of the Big Society
  • Fig leaf for public expenditure cuts
  • Privatisation/marketisation of services under another name
  • Statement of the obvious – already being done
  • OR a genuine suggestion that services might be delivered differently which, with reference to the cjs, might mean ‘governing less through crime’. Namely, delivering social order differently
new labour
New Labour
  • In successive election manifestos (1997,2001, 2005, 2010) promised and took pride in ‘governing through crime’ (more police, more police powers, longer sentences, more prison places, more offenders in prison)
  • In Opposition seems to be looking for any opportunity to maintain the penal arms race (Jack Straw on Clarke re. reducing the prison population, Milliband’s call for Clarke’s resignation re. his inept references to rape and sentence discounts, lack of support over police working practice and pension reforms)

Criminal sanctions imposed on young people aged 10-17, 1999-2009

Source: Ministry of Justice (2010a)

key trend and explanatory factors
Key Trend and Explanatory Factors
  • 2009-2011 – number of C&YPs in custody falls by 30%+ from over 3000 to circa 2150
  • 2007 - general OBTJ police target amended (focus now on serious offences)
  • 2010 – OBTJ (and other police) target abolished
  • 2007-2011 – steep decline in FTEs
  • 2007-2011 – steep decline in use of out-of-court sanctions – including those for C&YPs
other explanatory factors
Other Explanatory Factors
  • YJB encouragement of partnership analysis of high custody area stats and decision making by PRT
  • ‘Commonsense policing’ following Flanagan Report
  • Police station-based ‘triage’ schemes
  • Resuscitation of ‘80s style youth bureaux (eg Swansea)
recent key developments
Recent Key Developments
  • May 2010 General Election – apart from various statements re. ASB and binge-drinking, youth justice does not figure
  • June 2010 Independent Commission (Police Foundation/ Nuffield/Salz) on youth crime and justice reports
  • Sept 2010 Coalition Govt announces abolition of YJB
  • Nov 2010 CSR announces size of Govt (inc. MoJ, Home Office and local govt. cuts) – all impact youth justice
  • Dec 2010 Green Paper ‘Breaking the Cycle’ published – chapt 5 concerns youth justice
  • Jan 2011 – details of youth justice ‘payment by results’ ‘pathfinder’ projects announced – EOIs in by close of Feb.
independent commission report 2010 time for a fresh start
Independent Commission Report 2010: Time for a Fresh Start

Focus on long-term – principles not operational detail

  • Prevention -tackling the underlying circumstances and needs in children and young people’s lives (disavowal of punishment)
  • Restoration - ensuring meaningful consequences for young offenders that hold them accountable for the harm caused to victims and the community  
  • Integration - retaining children and young people who behave antisocially and offend within mainstream society or re-connecting them in ways that enable them to lead law-abiding lives
independent commission report 2010 time for a fresh start1
Independent Commission Report 2010: Time for a Fresh Start
  • Measures and sanctions should do no harm (e.g. by making offending worse or impeding rehabilitation)
  • Interventions should, wherever possible, be based on sound evidence concerning their effectiveness
  • Institutions and services should be separate from those for adults and staffed by purpose-trained specialists.
independent commission report 2010 key recommendations
Independent Commission Report 2010:Key Recommendations
  • structured programme of investment in the most promising preventive approaches (screening and assessment, parenting and support services to families of children whose behaviour is persistently antisocial from an early age (Aoset al 2004)
  • Less criminalisation (McAra and McVie 2008) and custody (Nagin), more RJ (Sherman and Strang 2007, Shapland 2008) – NI model commended;
  • All C&YPs to be dealt with in youth court (ticketing of CC judges); implied reorganisation of closed institutions
future prospects glass half full or empty
Future Prospects: glass half full or empty?


  • Youth Justice Pathfinders
  • Costs of custody passing to LAs
  • Pressures for parsimonious policing, RJ, etc.

Possible Negatives:

  • Ken Clarke replaced
  • Penal arms race transferred from Whitehall to Town Halls
  • Cuts to community programmes
  • Incidence of crime begins to rise again