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The Earl of Mar and Kellie moved Amendment No. 180:

Page 22, line 31, after ("accommodation") insert (", including where appropriate placement with foster parents,").

The noble Earl said: In the absence of my noble friend Lord McNally, I wish to move this amendment and speak to Amendment No. 181. The purpose of Amendment No. 180 is to add to the list of youth justice services one of the most valuable assets in child support services; namely, foster parents. It would be useful to do that because the support offered by foster parents and the normalcy of the fostering placement is often the best solution for a child who has to be received into the care of a local authority.

Foster parents are recruited from a wide variety of citizens. Many have remarkably effective understanding of the needs of children, especially those from delinquent or inadequate homes. I can state from my experience working in a social services department in Sheffield that some of the best foster parents we had were themselves the product of such homes as I have described. They had made a remarkable transition. Therefore, I strongly urge the Minister to include foster parents in the list of youth justice services.

The aim of Amendment No. 181 is to clarify the possible membership of a youth offending team. At present, I believe that Clause 30(5) is rather vague. The inclusion of a specific reference to personnel from voluntary organisations would give a much clearer message to the organisers of youth offending teams as to where they might find talent for the teams. The amendment would not preclude a wider range of people also being considered for it retains the words,

My case is this. In certain areas the main dynamic in youth work may lie in the voluntary sector. In recent years we have seen the rise and dismantling of the statutory youth service, much to my regret. When I recall the situation of my first post-qualification job in the Craigmillar district of Edinburgh, which was a post-war peripheral housing scheme, the youth service there was delivered by the Churches; the Save the Children Fund, which ran an adventure playground; the Scottish Association of Boys' Clubs which ran, yes, a boys' club; and the Craigmillar Festival Society. Only after I moved on was there any direct statutory provision. I believe that voluntary organisations should appear on the face of the Bill. They may well have a better grip on the situation than any other agency. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: If it is convenient to the Committee I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 180, 180A, 181 and government Amendment No. 182. We entirely agree as regards Amendment No. 180 and remand fostering, that placement in local authority accommodation of children and young people remanded or permitted to such accommodation should allow them to be placed, where appropriate, with foster parents. The definition of local authority accommodation Section 70 of the Children and Young Persons' Act 1969, already provides that. Section 70 of the Act and the words "local

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authority accommodation" mean any accommodation provided by or on behalf of a local authority. It can include a children's home, a foster placement or supported lodgings. It is a matter for the local authority to determine which of the available forms of accommodation is appropriate in any particular case. So we suggest that this amendment simply is not required.

Amendment No. 180A in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, seeks to change the name of youth offending teams to youth justice teams. The term "youth justice team" is often used at present to describe teams of social workers and probation officers working in local partnerships to deliver some youth justice services in the youth justice area. Many of them have been very productive. We want to build on good practice, which has been developed through those teams, in particular, multi-agency working extended to a wider range of agencies, including education and health authorities. They have a relevant role to play.

We believe that our new teams ought to focus on tackling youth offending, which is a very important text in this Bill. That is why we have considered "youth offending team" to be the expression which offers the best description.

Amendment No. 181 is in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie. This makes it clear that youth offending teams established by local authorities and other relevant local agencies under Clause 30 can include a member of staff or a volunteer from a voluntary organisation. I reiterate that we want to see co-operative work between youth justice agencies and voluntary organisations. We believe that their work is extremely important. But that is going to be achieved in different ways in different areas, depending on local circumstances. We want to allow for flexible differences according to local circumstances. Youth offending teams may draw members from the voluntary sector or a particular youth justice service, such as bail support or specified activities programmes.

Local areas do vary, and we do not consider that the amendment is appropriate on the face of the Bill. We want to allow local discretion and local flexibility. Clause 30(5) already enables a youth offending team to include such other persons as the local authority--that is the relevant local authority--considers appropriate after consulting the police authority, the probation committee and the health authority. This of course allows individuals from voluntary organisations to be included in youth offending teams. Where it is considered appropriate in a particular local area we think it is best left to local decision. I hope, on the basis of that explanation and the firm expression of government policy that we value and welcome the support of voluntary organisations, that noble Lords will not press their amendments.

Moving forward to government Amendment No. 182, this amends Clause 30(5) and, if your Lordships accept it, it will ensure that there is full local consultation before other persons are included as members of youth offending teams. It will require the local authority to consult every police authority, probation committee and health authority in its area before including other

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persons it considers appropriate in a youth offending team, rather than simply the bodies mentioned in subsection (4). So we have widened the trawl, as it were, consonant and consistent with what the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, mentioned. On the basis of that explanation I would invite the Committee to welcome the withdrawal of the amendments of the noble Lords, if they are withdrawn, and to support the Government Amendment No. 182.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, for making it quite clear that what I sought to make explicit in the Bill was essentially implicit. It is typical of me, and no doubt typical of him, to have differing approaches to the same issue. I am certainly very keen that with regard to voluntary organisations there should be a "prompt" in the Bill, but I am quite satisfied that there will be and that the organisers will be left in no doubt about the matter. Therefore, I am pleased to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 29 agreed to.

Clause 30 [Youth offending teams]:

Lord Hylton moved Amendment No. 180A:

Page 23, line 9, leave out ("offending") and insert ("justice").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is freestanding. It raises a question of what is in a name. The amendment may appear to be a purely drafting one. I believe it goes further than that. The object of the Bill has been stated as being to prevent crime, and this is spelt out not only in the Long Title but also in Clause 28 in relation to youth justice and in Clause 31(3).

It would be wrong to give the impression that all young people offend or that youth is by nature offensive. Even in the most crime-ridden neighbourhoods many young people remain essentially law-abiding and I do not want them to be stigmatised. The youth teams provided by the Bill will include members from outside the traditional spheres of criminal justice. The noble Lord, Lord Williams has already mentioned social, health and education services being included and also voluntary organisations. I understand that 14 respondents to the consultation which preceded the Bill emphasised the preventive role of these teams. I then searched for a better word than "offending" because the functions of the teams will be wider than just crime.

It seems to me that the teams will be implementing the strategies mentioned in Clause 6 of the Bill and also implementing the youth justice plans outlined in Clause 30. "Justice" therefore appeared to be a better word. Can the Government improve on that, I wonder? Did the consultation which preceded the Bill produce any more helpful ideas? I remain open to alternative wording, but in the meantime I beg to move.

10.15 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I spoke to Amendment No. 180A when dealing with Amendments Nos. 180 to 182. I believe that I have offered such contribution as I may usefully offer. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Hylton,

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to withdraw his amendment. The expression "youth justice team" is already used. For the reasons that I specified earlier we believe that "youth offending team" is right.

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