To receive any requests for Deputations, Presentation of Petitions or Public Questions.
(i) The Council received the following public question from Mr Alex Williamson which was responded to by Councillor Shields, Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities
Section 40 of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act places a statutory obligation upon a local authority to create and submit a youth justice plan to lay out how they intend to divert children and young people from committing criminal activity. When was the last time that Southampton City Council undertook such an activity, can he lay out the specifics of that plan and would he say that the plan has been successful?
The plan is being reviewed this year, with sign off planned for full council in September.
Youth Offending Teams national indicators include reoffending rates, first time entrant rates (first formal police disposal) and custody rates.
In terms of achievements to date:
· Re-offending rates have continued to reduce throughout the year and are below the National Average
· YOS Restorative Practitioners retained the RJC Service Delivery Quality Kite mark for the Service and have rolled out training as part of the SCC Workforce Development Team’s “Working with Families” Strategy; linked with the continuing ambition to become a Child Friendly City; this included delivering basic awareness and practitioner level training to hundreds of staff. Our Restorative practitioners aim is to make contact with all victims of crime that are open to the YOS. In the last quarter we offered RJ to over 85% of victims and continue to strive to improve this and improve the uptake of this service.
· The YOS continued to work collaboratively to address local Serious Youth Violence and successfully acquired YJB funding to undertake a piece of work with Hampshire Constabulary with the ambition of gathering and sharing data across agencies and the county more effectively. We are in the first phase of this project and are keen to utilise this to contribute to the response to serious youth violence in the city.
· YOS is the only Gold Artsmark awarded YOT in the county, a piece of work that improves engagement with our young people and builds on their strengths through arts and culture. It is also a stepping stone back into education, training and employment which is key to manage risks.YOS is a multi-agency team that continues to work with partners to tackle our priorities, those agencies include police, probation, health, the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner and the Violence Reduction Unit
Whilst YOS has been inspected (in 2019) with a Good outcome it recognises that we continue to have a number of priorities that we need to build and develop on and will form the plan for the forth coming year.
SYOS Priorities include
· Prevention of offending – to work with the local authority and build on a prevention of offending offer.
· Reduction of our First time entrants – Southampton First Time Entrant rates continue to be higher than the National Average
Both the prevention of offending and diversion from Youth Justice are areas SYOS need to build on and develop to intervene with children at the earliest opportunity. A review and redesign of the Local Authorities response to Vulnerable Adolescents in the city aims to build on this area to better meet the needs of the children, potential victims and communities. SYOS is also required to build on their Diversion offer for young people coming to the attention of the police and will be a focus for the coming year. Both of these aspects of our work aims to focus on those prevention of children who present at risk of offending and require intervention to reduce that risk, but also to divert those that are offending into positive, constructive interventions where appropriate challenge is given but where an assessment of needs and risks are made. The ultimate aim is to offer a bespoke and specific service to that child, to reduce any risks to themselves, to others and their communities. Whilst we currently offer this, our goal is to expand this offer and we recognise the part YOS has to play in supporting a prevention agenda with youth offending and violence in the city.
(ii) The Council received the following public question from Mr Alex Williamson which was responded to by Councillor Paffey, Cabinet Member for Children and Learning
Section 175 of the 2002 Education Act places a statutory obligation upon a local authority to provide an educational environment for children that promotes the safeguarding and wellbeing of children. With this in mind, can I ask him wherever he knows how many children have been found in possession of a knife or other such offensive weaponry whilst attending an educational setting across the timeframe of his administration and wherever he feels that existing policies in this area are strong enough to address this problem?
Prior to September 2020, there was no way of identifying if an exclusion involved a knife or weapon as the exclusion’s codes were not focussed and did not allow for tracking. In addition the police do not specifically collect this data as it was logged as possession of a knife and did not refer to whether the incident occurred in a school or not. The only reason we were knowledgeable of the permanent exclusions and can track these is that as a Local Authority we chose to do so.
In 2020/21, 2019/20 and 2018/19 there were 6 permanent exclusions in which a knife was involved. This is a specifically a knife not a general weapon. We additionally record each type of weapon.
In 2020/21, there have been five fixed term exclusions issued under the new OW (offensive weapon) code although we do not know whether the weapon involved was a knife in each case. Only the schools would know what happened and the type of weapon, as this is not able to be collected via the ONE system
We have asked that schools let us know through a reporting form, but this is sporadic and not used consistently.
Work is taking place on and has involved some of the secondary heads on a proposal that we collectively address incidents regarding knives as a collective city with clear guidelines and consistent approaches for which some funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner to trial this was being sought.