Author Archive | Lyn

AYM RESPONSE TO MEDWAY REPORT

The Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) welcomes the final report of the Medway Improvement Board (MIB) and notes the responses of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Youth Justice Board (YJB). As the report points out, the events uncovered at Medway Secure Training Centre are part of a succession of stories of abuse of children in custody which go back over many years. It reinforces the Association’s view that secure accommodation should be reserved for only the small number of young people who pose a danger to others, and should consist of small units of accommodation, sited close to the young person’s home area. They should always have their focus on keeping young people safe while preparing them for resettlement and on improving educational attainment, behaviour and mental and physical health.

We particularly appreciate the Improvement Board’s efforts to listen to and to believe the young people with whom they spoke. We also appreciate that their report was concluded in a very timely manner. It is our view that the report could have been enhanced by the incorporation of the perspective of youth offending teams (YOTs) as they have significant engagement with young people in custody and their families; and with secure establishments.   Thus had this Association been invited to join the “round table event”, we would have made the point that all of the young people serving sentences in Medway will have had an allocated YOT worker, and will have spent at least as long under supervision in the community as they spent in secure accommodation. This means that YOTs are uniquely well placed to obtain information from young people and their parents/ carers about the way in which they were treated within the secure estate. For obvious reasons we do not know how many, if any, of the 35 whistle-blowing letters produced by YJB came from YOT workers and we would suggest that information from young people about their experiences should be systematically collected in the future.

It is clear that the events in Medway could have occurred anywhere in the secure estate but especially where the values and priorities of the commissioners differ widely from those of the providers. Looking to the future, the MIB’s report leads us to the following views:
·         independent chairs of Local Safeguarding Children Boards should be represented on any improvement governance boards set up for any parts of the secure estate for children
·         there should also be a YOT Manager on such boards
·         YOTs should be required to take responsibility for ensuring that the experiences of all young people leaving secure accommodation are listened to, recorded and passed on to governance boards as well as to both the relevant commissioners and providers.

In conclusion, we would be pleased to be able to assist in future commissioning arrangements to ensure that outcomes for children and communities are the central feature of commissioning, rather than the process and micro management approach that the report refers to and which has clearly failed. It is vital that the experience of the child in custody is intrinsically linked to the plans for resettlement, and therefore we believe that YOT input to the commissioning and design process is essential.

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Better together? Youth Support Services and Youth Offending Services. 21 March 2016

Former Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton MP, hosted a parliamentary conference for local authority heads of services and YOT managers, on behalf of Ambition and The Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM). Over 80 delegates listened to key note speeches on the Government’s Youth Justice Review and partnerships across local authorities, police and crime commissioners and the justice system. Charlie Taylor, Ministry of Justice, set the scene with a national perspective from two select committee chairs, Keith Vaz MP (Home Affairs) and Bob Neill MP (Justice) and Lord Tom McNally, Chair of the Youth Justice Board.

 

The joint conference explored models and experience of partnership working and overarching preventative strategies, set in the context of the Youth Justice Review and in advance of the elections for Police and Crime Commissioners and local authorities in England. This included how effectively the youth justice system and its partners operate in responding to offending by children and young people. Delegates also discussed the actions and responsibilities of local authorities, youth offending teams, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), the police and other partners in preventing children and young people from offending.

 

We would like to thank all those who contributed to the event including the national lead for policing and children DCC Olivia Pinkney; the national youth-lead for the Association of Directors of Children’s Services Stuart Smith, DCS Calderdale; Local Government Association Safer and Stronger Communities Board Cllr Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor of Hackney; children’s rights lead for the Children’s Commissioner, Anna Henry; and Andy Champness, Chair of the Association of Policing & Crime Chief Executives.

 

There was a wide consensus over the need for a co-ordinated response from a number of partners, putting young people at the centre and creating a link between YOTs, children’s, health and education services to address the root causes of offending. Where there is a multi-agency approach or greater integration of services, it is vital we break down silos and professional hierarchies to align resources and commissioning.

 

Barry Williams, Director of Strategy and Membership at Ambition, said: “It was brilliant to hear so many important issues raised at today’s conference, and we plan to build on these discussions in our work with local authorities, AYM, lead partners and commissioners. Ambition remains committed to helping shape and deliver effective practice and partnership models, ensuring all children and young people in trouble with the law receive the best possible support they need to lead productive and rewarding lives.”

Gareth Jones, AYM Chair, said: “Today’s conference provided an opportunity to explore how close working between wider youth support services and youth offending teams, at a time when there is significant change in how services are being configured, can support effective prevention for young people at risk of getting in trouble with the law.   Whilst accountability for outcomes is a key element, it is essential we build in flexibility to secure local partnership models that serve distinct community needs.”

 

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AYM statement on the National Probation Service funding of Yots

The AYM recognises and understands the need for greater consistency in the relationships between local youth offending team (YOT) partnerships and the National Probation Service
(NPS). The relationships were bound to have to change from those that were enjoyed with local Probation Trusts in the past, and we recognise that such change inevitably produces winners as well as losers.

However, the NPS has surprised and disappointed us by issuing the above document outlining its proposals for future funding of youth justice services without full consultation. NPS reached its decisions after a process which did not include formal negotiation with members of local youth offending team (YOT) partnerships. We were invited only to “reference groups”. The negotiating process, such as it was, for these changes in contributions consisted of two arms of the Ministry of Justice, NPS and the Youth Justice Board, taking decisions together. Again this appears to be a case of a central government department handing down the consequences of its own budget pressures to local services. Local partnerships will now have to endeavour to find the resource to make good the shortfall in NPS funding or else make further cuts to budgets.

We welcome some aspects of the contributions, namely the commitment to provide qualified Probation Officer to YOTs and the length of their secondments, being set at three years rather
than two. These commitments were in some doubt a few months ago. We also welcome the recognition from NPS that it needs to make a contribution to the overheads involved in running a YOT: office accommodation, managers’ salaries, contract costs for outsourced services, legal and financial services etc. although 5k per worker hardly covers these costs.

The decision provides a perverse incentive for partnerships which operate across local authority boundaries to split up; it gives licence to other YOT partners to reduce their own contributions to these costs, leaving the YOT partnership to be perceived as solely a local authority responsibility.

Chairs of YOT Management Board will be working with their partners, the local authority, health and police services to understand the implications for their YOTs of the unilateral decision by NPS. Coming as it does in the same week as the publication of Charlie Taylor interim findings from his review of the youth justice system, this decision suggests that NPS’ commitment to stemming the flow of young offenders into the adult criminal justice system is on the wane.

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Liverpool Street Doctors win AYM’s John Hawkins Award

At the Youth Justice Convention in Leicester on 25/11/15 AYM Vice Chair Lesley Tregear announced the results of this years John Hawkins Award following judging by young people from last years winners the Skill Mill at Newcastle Yot.

The worthy winners were Liverpool Yot’s Street Doctors scheme and Hannah Doughty Head of Liverpool Yot plus representatives from the Street Doctors Project were present to receive the John Hawkins Award from Lesley Tregear along with a cheque for £500. The judges citation for the Street Doctors reads as follows

“The Street Doctors project is highly innovative in that it is provides young people with practical skills and knowledge to help keep themselves safe and potentially save lives. It also engages with interesting non-justice sector partners. The panel were acutely aware of the high profile knife crime events recently and felt that this project can be central to a strategy to reduce the harm being done. This project already runs in other YOTs following the Liverpool origin and we have Liverpool YOT to thank for this”

The runners up were Kingston & Richmond Yots Music project and Yot Manager Kathy Walker and several young people from the project stepped up on stage to receive their runners up certificate.

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Sucessful joint AYM/NAYJ event in Liverpool

On the 14th of October the AYM jointly hosted ‘the costs of youth justice’ event with the National Association of Youth Justice (NAYJ) at Liverpool John Moores University. The event was a sell out with 120 delegates attending including a sizeable AYM contingent.

The event was opened by NAYJ Chair Pam Hibbert OBE who reminded the audience that the ultimate cost had recently been paid by Merseyside Police Officer Dave Phillips which meant keynote speaker Asst Chief Constable Ian Pilling could no longer address delegates so Temporary Asst Chief Constable Rob Carden had stepped in at short notice.

Temp ACC Carden told the audience that it is estimated that the costs to the Police of late intervention with young people was 1.8billion per annum and went onto say that the 36% of young people in the secure estate being Looked After Children was ‘deeply disturbing’.

Anne Longfield the Children’s Commissioner for England was the other keynote speaker. In a wide ranging speech she urged Yots to fully engage with the review of Youth Justice led by Charlie Taylor to put forward evidence of ‘what works’ to reinforce the point that the social costs of young people offending are paramount and prevention will produce cash savings in the long term.

In the afternoon delegates were able to choose from 12 workshops covering a wide range of topics before the event was closed by AYM Chair Gareth Jones.

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