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Transforming lives of troubled youngsters

Efforts to help troubled young people in the borough turn their lives around have seen youth reoffending fall, with Waltham Forest’s reoffending rates now the second lowest in London.



The latest figures from the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales reveal the youth reoffending rate in Waltham Forest stands at 37.6 per cent, which is below the regional and national rates of 43.2 per cent and 37.7 per cent respectively.



The figures represent yet more good news for the Council’s Youth Offending Service (YOS), which was recently highlighted by national body the Prison Reform Trust as an example of best practice in relation to its work with looked-after children.



The service has a specialist officer whose role is to work with the small number of children in care known to the YOS. As part of their job, they also identify and work with looked-after young people at risk of becoming involved in crime.



In Waltham Forest, the YOS works closely with the children’s social care team to deliver restorative justice, which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders.



Rehabilitation services are available to all young people who could benefit from support turning their lives around.



Cllr Grace Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We’ve found that having the YOS work in partnership with children’s social care not only helps prevent incidents of offending and reoffending but also reduces placement breakdown amongst the small number of troubled looked-after children in need of our support.



“Experience tells us a child moved from placement to placement, especially those which occur for short periods of time, is at greater risk of entering the criminal justice system. Therefore, creating stable environments supported by well-informed, specially-trained carers helps us to secure brighter futures for our young people.



“And, this approach has helped children in care from other boroughs, who are placed within Waltham Forest, as they also benefit from interacting with care home staff and foster carers who have received restorative justice training from our YOS.”



Council staff who understand and adopt restorative justice techniques are better equipped to help young people to face up to what they have done, take responsibility, and to make amends to the victim or to the wider community.



The approach can involve mediation, where the young person meets with the victim in a safe environment, which can have very positive results for both the victim and the young person involved.



For more information on Early Help services provided by the Council, visit www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/early-help-young-people-offending.

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