Minister praises achievements of Youth Justice Agency

Criminal Justice Minister John Spellar has praised the success of the Youth Justice Agency during its first year of operation, saying it had achieved "tangible goals" against a background of major change.

Announcing the publication of the Agency's first Annual Report, Mr Spellar said: "The high levels of success achieved by the Youth Justice Agency during its first year of existence are to be commended. It has operated against a background of major change, including the closure of custodial facilities at Lisnevin and the opening of the single Juvenile Justice Centre for Northern Ireland at Bangor.

"The implementation of the Youth Conference Service, the opening of Community Services facilities at Omagh and Londonderry and the introduction of community responsibility orders and reparation orders all represented additional challenges that were managed by Agency staff effectively and efficiently.

"It is important that it now builds upon the progress already made by extending the services provided and further improving its operational effectiveness."

The Annual Report and Accounts 2003-2004 of the Youth Justice Agency of Northern Ireland was published by way of a written ministerial statement to Parliament on Tuesday.

The Agency met eight of the nine key performance targets and all 20 of the development objectives set by the Minister in its Business Plan for 2003-2004.

The Agency was launched as an Executive Agency, as recommended in the Criminal Justice Review, on 1 April 2003. It replaced the former Juvenile Justice Board, and is the fourth agency to be established within the Northern Ireland Office. This annual report covers its first year of existence.


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