YJB slams local media for demonisation

The Youth Justice Board will use a PR campaign to tackle what it sees as increasingly hostile local newspaper coverage of young offenders.

The YJB, which oversees youth justice in England and Wales, this week announced that the number of young people in custody has never been higher.

‘The media feed the perception that the only way to deal with young offenders is to lock them up; local papers are increasingly demonising them,' head of comms Sean Larkins told PRWeek.

The YJB strives to prevent under-18s offending and re-offending, and to ensure that custody for them is safe, secure, and addresses the causes of bad behaviour.

The body is encouraging its 157 teams across England and Wales to ‘engage with' papers locally and regionally. Larkins said he wanted the media to give more coverage to how bad behaviour can be prevented, and the
effectiveness of alternative punishments such as community sentences.

The YJB is to provide media packs and ‘news templates' to its regional teams, while seeking to ensure it has more local and national spokespeople available.

Local campaigns in coming months will address ­issues such as accommodation, Asbos and young female ­offenders' health needs.

‘More than 15 per cent of young women in the system have tried to commit suicide or self-harm,' Larkins added.

The YJB's central comms team is also lobbying the Government and magistrates to improve how young offenders are handled.

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