chapter  7
25 Pages

Nothing gained?

As we have seen, the context is one of a substantial and rapid reform programme, starting in 1998 and continuing over a number of years. These reforms have impacted on all aspects of the youth justice system, including legislation, policy guidance, national standards, strategic and operational delivery mechanisms, and front-line management and practice. They have been driven forcefully from the centre, by the Home Office and the Youth Justice Board, and at the core has been the one overarching objective ‘to prevent offending’ by young people (Youth Justice Board 2002: 8). At the time of writing the second edition of this book much of the reform programme has been operational for several years, and claims of success in relation to this principal goal (and other outcomes) have been articulated for some time (for example, Home Office et al. 2002: 29; Audit Commission 2004; National Audit Office 2004). More recently, however, the tone has changed somewhat, and by 2005 the Youth Justice Board was reporting ‘mixed results’ (Youth Justice Board 2005d: 4). While modest reductions in reconviction rates were noted, significant concerns were reported in other areas, such as the limited achievements of educational programmes for young offenders and the continuing high use of custody.