One of the most important of the New Labour Government's policies is reform of criminal justice — especially youth justice. There is a new determination to achieve a balance between the welfare of offenders, punishment, and the protection of the public. This paper will demonstrate, with particular reference to young offenders, that the main aim of the policy is to change offending behaviour and thereby reduce crime. Thus the Crime and Disorder Act includes provision for reparation orders, action plans, detention and training orders, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, child curfew schemes and Reprimand and Final Warning Schemes; but it also includes Parenting Orders, which are designed to help parents control the behaviour of their children. Youth Offending Teams will be set up locally to provide programmes to support offenders and to stop offending at an early stage. In all of this there is an emphasis on the co-ordination of the various agencies involved in youth justice. The Chief Officers Groups (which will include representatives of all relevant local services and authorities), for instance, will oversee the Youth Offending Teams. In future, the police, the probation service, social services and members of the Youth Offending Teams will have to work together to prepare strategies for reducing local crime and disorder.
This paper will also show that the Government is committed to reducing delays in dealing with persistent young offenders: there are new statutory time limits in the Act.