Councillors welcome falling rates of Doncaster children entering prison

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Councillors have welcomed a performance review which shows Doncaster is experiencing the 'lowest numbers' of young people entering prison for the first time.

A report issued to cabinet members by Doncaster Children's Services Trust revealed the number of 'First Time Entrants' (FTEs) coming through the judicial system has reduced by more than half in four years.

During 2013/2014, there were 674 children who ended up in court charged with a criminal offence for the first time. But latest figures for 2016/2017 show a decrease to 307.

The news has been welcomed by children's bosses as Doncaster had the fifth highest FTE rate in England back in 2015/2016.

Addressing councillors at a meeting on Tuesday, Andy Hood, senior head of service at Doncaster Children's Services Trust, said they had seen improvements in 'all statutory targets'.

"Effectively, children are entering the justice system at a lower rate in Doncaster than they have previously," he said.

"When they do enter the justice system they do receive the help they need which allows they to help them to prevent re-offending moving forward.

"We have youth custody at the lowest rate we ever have in the borough. We continue to show excellent performance in terms of children being in suitable accommodation hitting 100 per cent.

"In last year's performance overall, the borough finished 15th overall in the UK with the areas above Doncaster having 'far higher deprivation'.

"Performance continues to improve and children are thriving in Doncaster than they have previously when they are in contact with the criminal justice system."

Across the country, Surrey had the lowest number of FTEs at 100 while data from Lambeth Council in London shows they had 690 children entering the judicial system for the first time.

Stats show Doncaster had 0.38 children per 1,000 in prison in 2016 which fell to 0.18 a year later.

On the back of the performance review, cabinet member were asked to approve a plan to reduce the numbers even further.

Coun Nigel Ball, cabinet member for public health, leisure and culture, said: "In terms of the actual plan, it looks very forward thinking into the next few years and this will build on their fantastic an excellent performance. This is very much welcomed."

Deputy mayor Glyn Jones added: "This is a vastly improved situation and we're very pleased to see this. Long may it continue."