Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington Councils have joined forces to create a new way of working with children and young people who break the law, behave in an anti-social manner or are in danger of heading down that path.
The three councils have created a new Youth Offending Service which includes a dedicated team of specialist youth justice workers, probation officers, police officers and health and education professionals.
They will work together to find out why young people engage in anti-social behaviour and crime, and importantly put in place measures for each individual to reduce the likelihood of re-offending - using a range of methods including education and training, health and substance misuse services, restorative justice and reparation to victims.
The new Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington Youth Offending Service, already in operation, was officially launched at Walton Hall, Warrington on June 28 with Chair of the Youth Justice Board – the national organisations responsible for youth justice – Frances Done, acting as key note speaker.
In launching the new service, YJB Chair Frances Done, said: “I am sure by joining forces these three local authorities will be able to provide a Youth Offending Team which remains focused on rehabilitating young people and protecting the public, while being much more cost effective.
“Furthermore, I am confident this new approach will bring together the best local expertise, who can respond to community issues, helping drive down youth offending and reducing the number of people who get caught up in the youth justice system.”
Of the 125,000 young people living across the three localities, only 270 are young offenders currently registered with the service and the areas have seen a reduction in first time entrants to the service of 70% since 2005.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s executive member for children and young people’s services, Cllr Mark Stocks, said: “Youth crime across our area is reducing but we want to drive it down even further to ensure our communities become even safer and more attractive places to live and work and visit.”
“Young people have been placed at the very heart of this new service, with dedicated staff working closely with individuals to get to the root of why they have chosen to behave in an anti-social manner or commit crimes.
“Advice and support will be targeted at each person on an individual basis to ensure that they are helped on to the right path and the chance of re-offending is kept at a minimum.
“By combining our skills and experience throughout three authorities we are keeping a high quality workforce focussed on the task in hand - to reduce youth crime for the benefit of everyone.”
Chair of the new service and Executive Director of Children and Young Peoples Services at Warrington Borough Council, Kath O’Dwyer, said: “We are delighted to unveil our new partnership service, working on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington Councils alongside Police, Probation and health colleagues.
“We are confident that better outcomes for children, young people, families, victims of crime and communities can be achieved through the new service. In today’s tough economic climate it is important that innovative and collaborative approaches such as this can be developed.”