House of Lords Hansard, 11 June 2012
Justice: Sentencing of Young Offenders
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that there has been a significant reduction in youth crime that is mainly attributable to the work of the Youth Justice Board, which deals with offenders up to the age of 18? Will he consider extending the remit of the Youth Justice Board to deal with young adult offenders up to the age of 21 to see whether this pattern can be repeated?
Lord McNally: Like the age of criminal responsibility, this matter is kept under review. There are certainly indications that more holistic intervention by youth offending teams has led to a significant fall-off in youth offending, and there are lessons to be learnt from that. As always with these matters, the question is how much further up the age group one can carry interventions such as that without severe resource implications. However, my noble friend is right to draw attention to the 18 to 25 group, where a lot of criminality that lasts for a lifetime starts becoming embedded.
Baroness Sherlock: My Lords, is the Minister aware that about a half of those convicted for riot-related offences, certainly at the time the Riots Communities and Victims Panel published its report, were 18 to 24 year-olds? If he does not feel that he can give additional resources at the moment to enable the Youth Justice Board to take over, how else can he address the problems of that age group? After all, if we have another set of riots, that may be money well spent.
Lord McNally: What I can say is that there is a White Paper in the offing on these areas. It does not take a great deal of homework to identify that age group as perhaps the next best group on which to focus the intensity of care that has been shown in the youth justice system. If we could get anywhere near that success in the 18 to 25 group, we would have a real chance of cutting reoffending, which is the real problem in our prison population and in general levels of crime.