Agenda item

Restorative Practice - Lincolnshire Joint Diversionary Panels (JDP)

(To receive a report from Andy Cook, Youth Offending Manager, which provides the Committee with an update of the impact and performance of the Joint Diversionary Panel following the report presented in July 2018)


The Vice-Chairman welcomed to the meeting Andy Cook, Service Manager – Future4Me, Peter Grayson, Detective Superintendent, Lincolnshire Police, Mark Kirwan, Temporary Detective Superintendent, Lincolnshire Police, Tony Pryce, Joint Diversionary Panel Co-Ordinator and Michelle Westby, Practice Supervisor – Future4Me.


In guiding the Committee through the report, the Service Manager – Future4Me provided an update on the impact and performance of the Joint Diversionary Panel on offending behaviour by children and young people.


It was reported that preventing children and young people from formally entering the Youth Justice System was central to Lincolnshire's approach to tackling youth crime.


The Committee noted that prior to the introduction of the Joint Diversionary Panel (JDP) the vast majority of decisions relating to sanctions and disposals following criminal behaviour by children and young people were the sole and primary responsibility of Lincolnshire Police.  The Committee noted further that where the gravity and seriousness of offending was very high these decisions were still directed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).


It was reported that the panel ensured that children and young people were offered timely intervention and support to meet their individual needs; it also provided support to victims; and provided positive opportunities for restorative justice.  Details of the age range of offenders and the range of offences committed since June 2017 were shown on pages 16 and 17 of the report.


It was highlighted that the panel had a comprehensive range of interventions available to it, which included supervision, reparation, restorative conferences, group sessions and positive activities.  It was highlighted further that the panel also provided access to specialist support in areas such as substance misuse, emotional health and well-being and wider support to families.


The Committee was advised that the JDP continued to demonstrate excellent partnership working and commitment from all key stakeholders over the last year.


It was highlighted that national research within the criminal justice service had demonstrated the effectiveness in restorative justice in respect of the longer term benefits for young people, victims of crime and their communities.  It was noted that the JDP had demonstrated how restorative practice could minimise the potential for children becoming involved in the formal justice system whilst still being supported with effective intervention.


The report highlighted the revised process concerning anti-social behaviour that had been agreed with both the Police and District Councils to meet the needs of young people and provide agencies with the support required to help deter young people from persistently engaging in anti-social behaviour.  The Committee noted that following agreement with district councils, a countywide approach had commenced, which was to be followed by a formal evaluation.  Details of the aims of the pilot were shown on page 19 of the report.


The Committee was advised that the latest national data published by the Youth Justice Board in June 2019 had indicated that the rate of first time entrants in Lincolnshire had dropped by approximately 76% since the diversionary panels had come into operation in June 2017.


The report advised that since the panel had become operational, 699 cases had been reviewed.  Evaluation details were shown on page 20 of the report.  It was highlighted that as a result of the panels, the use of Youth Cautions within Lincolnshire had resulted in only 17 being issued in the year 2018, compared to 330 Youth Cautions in 2015/16.


The Committee noted that evaluation of the JDP was being carried out by the University of Lincoln's School of Social & Political Sciences. 


Detailed at Appendix A to the report were several case study examples for the Committee's information.


During discussion, the Committee raised the following points:-


·         Whether the voice of the victim was presented as a written statement; or whether victims attended panels in person.  The Committee was advised that at the start, there were just written statements presented comprising of two or three lines.  Now, Victim Liaison Officers made contact with victims and asked them for their views.  The Committee noted that there was a willingness by some victims to engage; and that one outcome offered was face to face contact supported by staff; another outcome was a letter of apology being sent to the victim.  The Committee noted that some victims preferred to have no contact at all with the offender.  It was noted further that the panel always took the wishes of the victim in to account.  The Committee was invited to view the Joint Diversionary Panel Case Studies shown on pages 23 to 26 of the report presented;

·         One member asked whether there were repeat offenders for violence.   The Committee was advised that violence was not repetitive and was at a level proportionate to be dealt with.  A further question raised was whether girls were more likely to reoffend.  The Committee noted that any trends would be picked up as part of the evaluation process;

·         A question was asked as to whether the consumption of alcohol had any bearing on violent incidents.  The Committee was advised that alcohol had some influence on 10 to 20% of cases.  In cases where alcohol/other substances were involved, the offender would be referred for appropriate support.  Reassurances was also given that anti-social behaviour was being monitored at a local level; and that Trading Standards were involved with education and operations within communities;

·         Confirmation was given that county lines were dealt with at a regional level; and that any appropriate issues would be highlighted to them.  Reassurance was given that any incident would be fully investigated;

·         Restorative Practice comparative data – A request was made for a copy of the evaluation data being considered by the Committee at a later date.  It was noted that each diversionary scheme operated in a different way; and that Lincolnshire was different, due to its close working relationship with the police.  It was also felt that best practice should be shared with other authorities.  The Committee noted that the impact of the panel was evident from the figures for 18/19 as Lincolnshire had dealt with 102 first time entrants, compared to 226 for East Midlands and 228 nationally;

·         How the approach of the panel differed when dealing with 10 to 12 year old offenders.  Reassurance was given that consideration was given to age when dealing with a young offender, but it was highlighted that the process followed was universal;

·         One member extended congratulations to the police for all their work with a young person in their area; and that working together had enabled a successful outcome;

·         Further congratulations were extended to the representatives for their joined up approach;

·         One member enquired how much support was received from parents during the process.  The Committee was advised that the response from parents differed.  The Committee noted that it was a lot easier when parents were on board.  In situations where there were problems at home, some action was taken against the parents. A positive of the panel was that a holistic approach was taken, so that all issues affecting the young person were identified and investigated and intervention measures were put into place, thus avoiding further problems occurring; and

·         One member enquired whether the reduction in the number of permanent exclusions had affected the number of offenders.  The Committee was advised that there had been a lot of work conducted nationally that evidenced education was a key factor in a young person's life; as education helped to give them focus to bring them back on track.  The Committee noted that the number of exclusions had reduced and that there was effective provision of places through Build a Future, and Wellspring Academy to get young people back into full time education quickly.


In conclusion, the Committee welcomed the report as an excellent example of multi-agency working.  The Committee also agreed to a further progress report being received in a year's time; that the university evaluation report should be presented to a future meeting; and that consideration should be given to the work of the Joint Diversionary Panel being shared with all councillors as part of a Councillor Development session.


On behalf of the Committee, the Vice-Chairman extended his thanks to the representatives for their extremely interesting presentation.




1.    That the report presented concerning Restorative Practice – Lincolnshire Joint Diversionary Panels be received.


2.    That a further progress report on the Lincolnshire Joint Diversionary Panels be received by the Committee in one years' time.


3.    That the results of the evaluation report conducted by the University of Lincoln's School of Social & Political Sciences be presented to a future meeting of the Committee.


4.    That consideration be given to including the work of the Lincolnshire Joint Diversionary Panels as a Councillor Development session.

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