More than half the children in Redbridge’s youth justice system reoffend, new council report reveals

Redbridge Town Hall

Redbridge Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Redbridge’s cabinet member for young people has insisted the council’s performance in tackling youth crime “remains strong”, despite a new report revealing a huge increase in teenage reoffenders.

By law, each council is required to draw up a plan detailing how it will combat underage crime for the year ahead, and Redbridge’s Youth Justice report for 2018/19 was presented by Councillor Elaine Norman at a meeting of Redbridge Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, July 17.

It revealed that although first time entrants into the youth justice system had decreased by 31pc, the rate of reoffending amongst young people already in the system had risen massively to 58.6pc, meaning it is statistically more likely for a Redbridge young offender to reoffend than for the system to successfully rehabilitate him.

To provide some context, the nationwide reoffending rate for children already within the youth justice system is 42.1pc.

Cllr Norman, who spoke about the issue for less than three minutes at the meeting, said: “Overall, the performance of the Youth Offending Team remains strong, in particular the low levels of first time entrants of young people, aged 10-17 into the youth justice system.

Infogram on youth justice report

Infogram on youth justice report - Credit: Archant

“The main weakness relates to the increased reoffending rate of young people. This can be partly be explained by the number of low entrants into the system and the fact that those entrants have more complex problems.”

But Cllr Norman admitted that the report contained some worrying information – including a large rise in the number of black offenders and the revelation that almost two out of five Redbridge children are now identified as gang-affected.

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She said: “The number and proportion of young people who are known to be gang affected has been increasing over the last few years, and addressing these issues are priorities of the youth justice plan for 2018/19.

“The critical areas for concern that the plan will address are the rate of re-offending, the ethnic composition of offenders and the increasing number of young people who are gang affected.

“The two principle risks outlined in the plan are increasing financial pressures, increased complexity of cases linked to organised crime and violent behaviour, which can make reductions in reoffending harder to achieve.

“However, actions are set out in the plan to minimise these risks.”

Ways in which the council hopes to achieve this include the use of more robust assessment methods, a fast-track referral route and a live tracking toolkit to prioritise those youngsters at highest risk of reoffending.