The appointment was announced by the chairman, Lord Warner, who said:
'In Mark Perfect we have an excellent person to help the board pursue its aims of preventing offending by children and young people. There is a big agenda of change as the board tackles the problems of youth crime and promotes new ways of challenging offending behaviour'.
Mark Perfect has worked for the Treasury, the Audit Commission and the Home Office. He co-wrote Misspent Youth - an Audit Commission value for money report on the youth justice system published in November 1996. The report showed that it took on average over four months between arresting and sentencing a young offender and that little was then done to prevent re-offending. In 1997 he was secretary to the home secretary's task force on youth justice whose advice is reflected in the youth justice provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. From 1976 to 1994 Mark worked in the treasury, latterly as head of strategic management and control division (1991-94).
The Youth Justice Board is an executive non-departmental public body, established under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The board's initial role is to:
- Monitor the operation and performance of the youth justice system, including the youth court, the work of youth offending teams and the delivery of secure accommodation. The board will report to the home secretary; issues relating to the courts will be referred to the lord chancellor.
- Advise the home secretary on drawing up standards for the work of youth offending teams and the juvenile secure estate, monitor performance against those standards and publish results.
- Identify and disseminate good practice, including commissioning research and providing grants for developing good practice.
- Advise the home secretary on the operation of the youth justice system in delivering its aim of preventing offending by young people and changes which may be needed.
The government has decided in principle to extend this role to include the commissioning and purchasing of secure accommodation for juveniles on remand and under sentence.
The initial work of the board has focused on advising the home secretary on juvenile secure accommodation, on action needed to establish youth offending teams, on ensuring the information needed to monitor the youth justice system effectively is available, on identifying and promoting good practice and on the arrangements necessary for ensuring local agencies are taking action to halve the time from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders. The board will also develop national standards for youth justice services and the juvenile secure estate.
The next meeting of the board will take place in Cardiff on 20-21 January 1999. The address of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales is: 6th Floor, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SWIH 9AT.