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New public management & youth justice. New wine in old bottles? A case study of youth offending teams

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posted on 2023-08-30, 20:29 authored by Joseph Nwokobia
Public administration (PA) has been evolving and changing since the time of Weber. Following the continuing introduction of New Public Management (NPM) approaches to youth justice in England and Wales since the introduction of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, there have been debates about their rise and impacts on youth justice. The rise of the NPM paradigm since the 2008 global financial crisis provides yet another shift in the youth justice public administration. This study, therefore, seeks to explain public service youth justice beyond the political and economic lens by explaining the NPM approaches and the impact they have on three areas of the study, namely, a) the public interest and public administration (Governance), b) the politics-administration dichotomy (the role of government), and c) the position of accountability. The theoretical concepts focus on the principal-agent, transaction cost and public choice theories to explain how to relate the NPM approaches with the normative viewpoints to allow for an understanding of the impacts on the three areas of this study. This thesis used a single-case study and a qualitative research method, including 20 semi-structured interviews, and over 170 documents. The study findings show that NPM economics, in addition to politics have substantial impressions on the three areas of this study and back the view that the NPM models in youth justice are in the ‘public interest’. However, it also poses a question about the meaning of public interest in the provision of public service youth justice: whose interest? The young offenders? The victims of crime? The public or, indeed, “in the interest of justice?” The findings also raised questions about the feasibility of the government reforms and the provision of public service youth justice using NPM approaches which neglect the public service values in favour of achieving the government’s targets and outcomes.



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