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Lord Henley: My Lords, I rise merely to say that the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, has made a very good case. I trust that the Government will be able to explain what extra resources will be available, whence those extra resources will come, and how much the Government think it will be necessary to provide to make sure that the Probation Service is appropriately funded for the new duties that are to be imposed upon it.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I wish briefly to add my voice in support of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. I do so as someone who has served on a local authority and on a hospital trust, and I am currently a member of a probation committee. I support the noble Lord's points in relation to the Probation Service. The cuts in the base budget that the service has suffered amount in some cases to 20 per cent. of its total annual expenditure. That means that it is already having to take money away from one area of work to keep another going. It also means that new initiatives, such as special care for drug offenders and so on, are increasingly difficult to maintain. I therefore hope that the Government will be able to say how they propose, in a situation of actual falls in base budgets, to ensure that the work that is so valuable coming out of this Bill can be carried out.

9 p.m.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Northbourne. Perhaps I can illustrate the kinds of things that happen at present by referring to two Written Answers to Parliamentary Questions which I have recently received, both signed by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn.

The first concerned advisory services to asylum seekers. Under the previous government there was something called "spend to save", whereby money was paid out in order to gain future savings. This provided something like £½ million a year to one specialist advisory body helping asylum seekers to present their cases, either at first instance or at appeal. This is to be cut back--virtually eliminated, I believe--in the coming

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financial year, although in this case the backlog of unheard and undecided asylum applications remains very large.

The second Answer concerned the savings expected to come from the prevention of crime generally, whether youth crime, adult crime or any other kind of crime. I do not have the Answer with me but I shall try to give the gist of it from memory. It was that in this case there was no system for estimating future savings and, once they had been achieved, for reallocating them between different government departments and between central government, local government and other statutory bodies.

Those examples both indicate an unsatisfactory situation which I hope the Government will be able to address, particularly in the context of the Bill.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the amendments standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, propose the creation of central funding arrangements for youth offending teams, with the Secretary of State reimbursing to the relevant local agencies the costs of providing members of the teams.

The Government understand the concern which has been expressed about the availability of resources for youth offending teams. We do not consider, however, that central funding arrangements are appropriate for these teams.

The Government intend that youth offending teams should bring together existing staff and services on a more effective interagency basis, building on current interagency arrangements in many areas. We believe that youth offending teams should be established and operated on the basis of the resources available to the local authority, the probation service, the police and the health authority and according to the pattern of responsibility for youth justice work which is determined locally by those agencies and set out in the youth justice plan formulated under Clause 31. This will preserve local ownership and accountability and encourage partnership between the relevant agencies. The Government consider that such a locally-based approach is more practicable than one which would require central government to consider the assessment made of local need and the resources required to meet it.

The Government acknowledge, of course, that where additional work is to be undertaken there is a case for additional resources, and the requirement for these must be properly evaluated before the new provisions are brought into force. Chapter 10 of the White Paper No More Excuses set out the Government's view of the resource implications of the youth justice measures contained in the Crime and Disorder Bill. There was an element of spending to save in relation to that.

Most of the youth justice services which will have to be provided locally should already be in place and, in some areas, interagency working is already being implemented within existing resources. Our proposals will ensure more effective interagency planning and provision of services, bringing together all those who can make a contribution to tackling youth offending.

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We are, however, assessing the resource implications of the new services which will be required--for example, to deliver the final warning scheme and the new court orders, the reparation, action plan, child safety and parenting orders. We shall be piloting these new measures, some of which will build on, and in some cases replace, existing disposals and provision. We shall also be piloting the youth offending teams. The pilots will enable the costs and savings associated with the provision of youth justice services and youth offending teams to be assessed in advance of nationwide implementation. The outcome of the pilots will then help inform decisions over the timing of full implementation of these measures.

I hope that, in the light of this reassurance, the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, will not press the amendments which stand in his name.

Lord Northbourne: My Lords, I shall not press the amendment, not because the noble and learned Lord has convinced me but because I believe it would be a waste of your Lordships' time at this hour.

The noble and learned Lord said, "No", that these things have to be funded out of the existing resources of the various organisations, the local authorities, the probation service, the police, and so on. I believe that the Government are living in an unreal world. I refer again to Tower Hamlets, about which I know a little. The interagency working is being cut back because the organisations, including the police, are very strapped for money. The police youth service has been virtually wiped out in Tower Hamlets in the past five years.

The only comfort I can glean is that the noble and learned Lord said that there will be pilot schemes. I believe the Government will come in for a nasty shock as to the additional resources needed, at least on a pump-priming basis. It may be that in five years' time the benefits of the Act will feed through and the need for funding will reduce, but in the initial period there will be a need for funding. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 31 [Youth justice plans]:

[Amendment No. 89 not moved.]

Clause 32 [The Youth Justice Board]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 90:

Page 24, line 45, at end insert ("and
(iv) the steps that might be taken to prevent offending by children and young persons;").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 90, I shall, with the leave of the House, speak also to Amendments Nos. 91 and 93. As my noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn explained in responding to an amendment at Committee stage on 12th February moved by the noble Baroness, Lady David, the Government believe that the welfare of children and young people is directly concerned with preventing offending by them.

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These amendments build on the crime prevention foundations already in the Bill by extending the remit of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales under Clause 32 to enable it to take a view on the steps that might be taken to prevent youth offending and thereby promote the welfare of the children and young people concerned. They also reflect the role which the youth offending teams established under Clause 30 will be able to play in work to prevent youth offending.

The main business of youth offending teams will be work with known offenders. However, Clause 31(3) already enables youth offending teams to undertake work to prevent youth offending and for that to be included in the youth justice plan formulated by the local authority under Clause 31(1). That will allow local authorities which have a duty under paragraph 7(b) of Schedule 2 to the Children Act 1989 to take steps to encourage children and young people not to commit offences, and the other local agencies flexibility as to the relative involvement in preventive work of the youth offending team and the agencies themselves, including the local authority social services department.

Given its function of monitoring the work of youth offending teams, the Government consider it appropriate that their possible role in preventing youth offending should be reflected in the functions of the youth justice board under Clause 32(5). The Government also consider that, to complement its role in monitoring the operation of the youth justice system under subsection (5)(a) and advising the Home Secretary on how the new principal aim of that system of preventing youth offending might most effectively be pursued under subsection (5)(b)(ii), the youth justice board should be able to offer advice on what might be done to prevent young people becoming involved in crime and entering the youth justice system in the first instance.

Amendment No. 90 therefore amends the board's advisory functions under Clause 32(5)(b) to include the provision of advice on the steps that might be taken to prevent offending by children and young people. Amendments Nos. 91 and 93 extend the board's function under subsection (5)(d) to obtain information from the relevant local agencies--local authorities, police authorities, probation committees and health authorities--to cover information to inform its advice under subsection (5)(b).

The youth justice board's exercise of those functions will be subject, under Clause 32(7), to directions and guidance given by the Secretary of State. That should ensure that the work of the board in relation to preventing youth offending complements the Government's overall approach to crime reduction. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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