The Independent (17th March), publication of data for the year 2008-9 relating to "disposals" of criminal offences committed by children (ages 10 to under 14) and young persons (14 to under 18) is being delayed due to the impending general election. The data normally appears in March. It seems that there is now a "purdah period" during which information of a sensitive political nature may not be released. The term "disposal" includes all methods of finalising an offence. Methods range from police reprimands to various forms of custodial sentence. It also appears that publication of a report relating to "governance" of the Youth Justice Board (YJB) is being delayed.
Data for "disposals" of youth justice cases up to year 2007-8 can be readily obtained from the YJB website. In the year 2005-6 there were 212242 disposals; in 2006-7 the figure was 216011 and for 2007-8 it was 210670. Obviously, over this 3 year period, the data shows a fairly stable position with neither a sharp decline nor increase in youth offending. Has the government something to hide about 2008-9? Applying a "purdah" to this data cannot make for a healthy democracy in which informed debate about matters of concern can take place.