A recent meeting of Wrecsam's Youth Justice Management Board agreed to look further at the possibility of charging Local Authorities that place children in Independent Care Homes in Wrecsam.
At present there are 54 children placed in specialist children's homes in Wrecsam CBC that provide therapeutic services for children with, "long term severe behavioural and emotional difficulties." The authorities that place the children in these care homes pay the companies in the region of £250,000 per annum per child or £5000 per week.
Due to the difficulties that the children have, some will invariably offend and come to the notice of the Youth Justice Service. At any one time 25% of the workload of the Wrecsam YJS are looked after children from Independent Care Homes for which Wrecsam get no additional funding from the placing authorities. In addition to the extra numbers, children in these care homes are more likely to be the subject of serious incidents that need to be reported to the Youth Justice Board; in fact 50% of all serious incidents reported to the YJB are looked after children in Independent Care Homes.
The decision was taken to charge the placing authorities is based on, "The demand on resources is increasingly difficult to sustain. Serious incident reporting is a time consuming bureaucratic process which takes resources from other YJS services."
Legal advice suggests that it may be possible to charge and we are now looking further at this. The problem of funding YJS is further exacberated by the decision of the Westminster Government to abolish the YJB and for responsibility to go to the Ministry of Justice. This is dealt with in the Green Paper, "Breaking the cycle." but there is a lack of clarity over a whole host of issues in relation to devolution the main one being funding.
There is a need for intervention at a Westminster and Welsh Government level and AM's should be calling for a Ministerial Statement on Youth Justice in Wales from Carl Sergeant the Local Government minister.