Professor Rod Morgan has resigned from his position as Chair of the Youth Justice Board. This is really bad news. The role of Chair is difficult and demanding, as the Youth Justice field requires massive improvements. Rod Morgan is not only very well informed in this field, but is also a man of principles and insight. It is not our practice to make political comment, but if he has felt it necessary to resign, it can only be a symptom of deep-seated and intractable problems within the upper reaches of the Home Office.
We have pointed out before that Britain’s current approach in dealing with young offenders – unlike any of our other services for children and young people – is something of which the country should be deeply ashamed. It was in the 1850s that action was taken to get young people out of prison, and by a sequence of well-intentioned bad decisions we have ended up today with nearly 3,000 young people in penal establishments which are often reported to be of a very poor quality.
This situation is not acceptable. Professor Morgan’s tenure of the role of Chair of the Youth Justice Board represented a beacon of hope that something might be done.
Martin Narey, the Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, who was formerly head of the Prison Service and is well acquainted with Rod Morgan, said, “Barnardo’s note, with deep regret, the resignation of Professor Rod Morgan, Through a very difficult three years, when the number of children we put in prison in England and Wales has risen to record levels, Rod has done all that might have been possible to bring some common sense and balance to Youth Justice. He has been at all times entirely realistic about the criminality of some children and his primary motivation has been to reduce their offending. We are dismayed that Ministers have not sought to persuade him to stay on as YJB Chair for a further three years.”
We echo Martin Narey’s comment.