Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Seeing Improvements to Public Services in Action – Chief Secretary Alan Milburn visits Teeside Youth Court [September 1999]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 9 September 1999.

Youth Court services in the North East come under the national spotlight today as Chief Secretary Alan Milburn visits Teesside Youth Court to see the Government’s modernization programme in action.

Alan Milburn has chosen Teesside to kick off a national programme of visits to front line services to highlight what Ministers regard as the unacceptable variations in performance between similar public service organizations. This reflects Ministers’ belief that while improvements in public services are taking place, especially now that the Government’s record levels of investment have come on line, progress is too uneven. Some local services are making more progress than others reflecting differences in management and organization more than levels of funding.

The Government is pledged to halve the time taken to get persistent young offenders through the youth justice system from arrest to sentence – and Cleveland is one of the top best performing areas in England and Wales. The aim is to spread best practice so that poorer performers are brought up to the levels of the best.

Alan Milburn commented:

“Teesside is leading the way in bringing young offenders speedily to book. When the Government came into office it was taking nearly five months, 142 days between the arrest of persistent young offenders and their punishment by the courts. These delays were unacceptable.

The Government is pledged to halve the time taken from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders. I am pleased that youth courts in the North East are well on the way to meeting this pledge.

I am here today to see for myself what is being done, what lessons can be learned by others and what else needs to be done to tackle youth crime.

The Government is driving forward the modernization of our key public services so they provide excellence for the many and not just the few. We want to see high quality services everywhere. That is fair to the people who use these services and the taxpayers who fund them.

Improvements are already coming through but change takes time and effort as well as resources. We know that there are too many unacceptable variations in performance across the public services. That is why we are taking action to crack down on failure and reward success. And we want to see the worst learning from the best. We will not tolerate second best.”

The Government is pledged to halve the time from arrest to sentence from 142 to 71 days. The average for England and Wales for the whole of last year was down to 125 days, by December it was down to 106 days. There is still much to be done, however to ensure persistent young offenders are met with a speedy response in every area. In some areas it still takes an average of 163 days, while in another it is already down to 84 days. Cleveland is the seventh best of the 44 areas with a figure of 103 days.

Cleveland is now producing a Joint Improvement Plan to set out how further reductions will be made and has received additional financial help from the national Youth Justice Board’s Development Fund to improve services for its young offenders. Cleveland, along with Redcar and Middlesborough are also jointly involved in a multi-agency Youth Offending Team to work with young offenders in the community.

Alan Milburn’s programme of visits during September and October is the start of a concerted autumn campaign to shine the spotlight on how local services are using the extra resources they have been given to meet the performance targets they have been set by the Government.