The way that Nottingham City Council work with children in care has reduced the number of young people convicted of offences while being looked after.
Whilst the number of children in care has remained constant, there has been an overall reduction in offending behaviour by children in care which is three times the national average.
This news comes as Lord Laming publishes an independent review into how children in care can be protected from unnecessary involvement in the criminal justice system.
Nottingham City Council’s Youth Offending Team (YOT) is central to this reduction in offending rates amongst children in care.
The Youth Offending Team has a dedicated Nottinghamshire Police officer who works with young people in care and who may be more vulnerable to crime, offending and sexual exploitation. It is the first dedicated role of its kind in the country and has been praised by Ofsted as a model for best practice.
The Children in Care Police Officer visits young people in care regularly to check on their welfare and support them and liaises with police and social care staff as well as outside organisations to keep young people safe. The officer also ensures that young people are making amends, rehabilitated in the community and most importantly diverted from offending.
The Youth Offending Team which was awarded the Restorative Justice Council’s Restorative Service Quality Mark (RSQM) in April 2016 has also been praised for its work to provide a safe and effective restorative justice service. It is one of 33 organisations from sectors that include criminal justice, education and care, to achieve the RSQM.
Restorative justice works to prevent offending and reduce re-offending by children and young people by bringing offenders and their victims together. This helps young people who commit crime to make amends in an effort to repair the damage done and find a positive way forward.
Research shows that restorative practice delivers better outcomes for young people across schools, care, community and the Criminal Justice System. It has the potential to positively change the lives of young people and others.
Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years at the City Council, said: “I’m very pleased that the work of the Youth Offending Team is reducing the number of young people in care in Nottingham who are involved in the criminal justice system. It is only right that their hard work and dedication is recognised at a time when looking after our most vulnerable young people is foremost in people’s minds.
“I am very proud of their hard work and their partnership with Nottinghamshire Police which helps children in care to get the best start and improve their lives as much as possible. The team have worked hard over recent years to make sure that children in care receive the support they need and I am delighted by their approach, their hard work and their dedication.”
As well as helping victims overcome the effects of crime, restorative justice is essential to preventing re-offending. It supports people who have come into contact with conflict in the community with a view to give victims a voice and improve the chances of rehabilitation. It also provides an opportunity for victims to tell offenders the impact of their crime and for offenders to make amends.