The Government are committed to reducing offending and reoffending by young people. We are placing education at the heart of detention and improving resettlement processes, which will provide young offenders with the skills and support they need to build a life free from crime. We are also working to ensure that community youth services are as effective as possible in helping young people to adopt law-abiding lives, including through their role in delivering key cross-Government programmes such as the troubled families initiative.
Can my hon. Friend reassure me that changes to the probation service will reduce youth reoffending through a new culture and direction of travel? I, for one, would not wish to see senior managers reinventing themselves in these new community rehabilitation company positions.
I know that my hon. Friend takes a serious interest in these matters—indeed, I have met with him to discuss them. The number of first-time entrants into the criminal justice system who are young people fell by 59% in the four years to September 2014. We are also focusing on resettlement consortia in four high custody areas. We have a Turn Around to Work initiative in London and Greater Manchester, which is supported by a number of employers. We are also doubling the number of hours in education.
Obviously, the way to tackle youth offending is to tackle the causes. We know that mental health problems play a substantial role in youth offending. That is one reason that I welcome the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement of a £1.25 billion investment in young people’s mental health, but what is the Ministry of Justice doing to try to make sure that young people with mental health problems—in or out of prison—get the support they need so they are treated rather than jailed?
I can give my hon. Friend good news on that front. Under this Government we have rolled out the liaison and diversion service—only last week, I visited the excellent scheme up in Wakefield—which is going to cover 50% of the country. It has made very good progress and is an excellent example of partnership working, and I look to seeing it expanded further.