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Tagged In:  Youth Offending

As of April 2016, West Mercia Youth Offending Service (YOS), which is one of the country’s largest YOS covering Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, will transfer to West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).




The first arrangement of its kind, the new set-up is expected to save money by, as Worcestershire County Council has said, “strengthening links with the police and criminal justice partners”. Statutory responsibility for youth justice though will still remain with the council.

Consideration had been given to setting up a local authority trading company to run the YOS, which is a relatively new concept where a youth offending service could operate like a private business, but be owned by the local authority. With concerns over the viability of this option however, the Council announced its decision to hand the running of West Mercia YOS over to the elected police chief instead. 

In its statement, the Council said that the arrangement with the PCC would allow the service to be more flexible and respond innovatively to changes in both criminal justice and children’s services.

The decision comes as youth offending teams across England and Wales consider ways of relieving some of the financial pressures they face amidst Youth Justice Board confirming its plans to push ahead with in-year cuts of £9m YOT funding. 

What direct impact this will have on youth offending workers, and whether we’ll see more YOTs transferred to PCCs is yet to be seen. West Mercia Youth Offending Service’s restructure back in 2012 to encompass such a wide geographical area means its structure fits with that of the PCC. Many youth offending services are much smaller than this and wouldn’t necessarily benefit from the economies of scale expected to be seen in West Mercia. 

However, Cllr Marc Bayliss, the cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: "We understand this to be the first of its kind in the country and hopefully a model of best practice for others to follow."

A report from Worcestershire Council also states that the service should be “able to deliver the best possible performance and quality within a climate of reducing resources for all partners” with a direct transfer of all youth offending staff to the PCC. 

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