AYM Chair responds to YJB grants to YOTs for 2018/19

The AYM is very appreciative of the negotiations undertaken by the YJB with the Ministry of Justice, in order to ensure that the Core Grant to YOTs was not reduced from the 2017/18 level.  However, as it is set at the same level as last year it does represent a reduction in funding to YOTs, due to inflation.  This is at a time that many YOTs are experiencing a reduction of funding from partners due to cuts to those services themselves, as a result of this prolonged period of austerity.

YOTs have been consistently excellent in terms of reducing first time entrants to the youth criminal justice system and reducing the number of children that are detained in custody.  As a result of this, the level of safety and wellbeing concerns that children supervised on community orders present with is significant.  In addition, the seriousness of offending committed by these children and the risks they pose to others requires close monitoring and extensive support from the YOT, all of this requires sufficient funding to be effective.

The AYM is conscious that the landscape of youth offending is changing, recent media coverage of violent offending and offences committed as a result of exploitation highlights some of this, as does that of crimes associated with social media use by children.  Research undertaken by YOTS has also shown that the majority of children who offend have significant special educational needs and disabilities (SENDAR) and have suffered numerous adverse childhood experiences that have resulted in trauma.

All of this requires YOTs to be in a position to manage these emerging patterns of crimes committed by children and properly resourced to respond to the increasing complexity of needs of the children who offend.  Partners to the YOT are required to ensure that there is adequate funding to provision youth justice provision in their local area, the AYM hopes that the ongoing commitment from the YJB to support YOTs is accepted as an indicator to those local partners that YOTs should continue to be prioritised if children are to be enabled to pursue more positive lifestyles.

Lesley Tregear

AYM Chair

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AYM responds to a call for evidence on school exclusions from the Department for Education

The Department for Education has commissioned former children’s minister, Edward Timpson CBE, to undertake a review of children being excluded from school. The terms of reference for the review are here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-exclusions-review-terms-of-reference

 

The review team issued an initial call for evidence, and AYM has responded as follows:

 

“Our members work with children aged 10-17 who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. The principal aim of the system is to prevent offending by children and young people. We are pleased that you are undertaking this important review of exclusions, as this is a crime prevention issue and a safeguarding issue.

 

“We find a very large proportion of children in the justice system, possibly as high as 90%, have some form of special educational need. Typically, this is speech, language and communication difficulties combined with difficulties with managing emotions and behaviour. Unfortunately, these needs can lead to frustration and to poor behaviour in the classroom. All too frequently, there is a series of fixed term exclusions, permanent exclusions and changes of school. This causes difficulties and delay in undertaking the full assessment of special educational needs, as such assessments require the child to be in school.

 

“Exclusions prevent young people from receiving the specialist support services that they need. Excluded children are vulnerable to recruitment by criminal gangs of older teenagers, and we have heard a number of examples of this. Youth justice professionals frequently encounter young people who have been excluded so often that they have not been inside a classroom for two years. Often barely literate or numerate, they are ill equipped to move to further education and employment. Those who commit serious or persistent offences may find themselves sent to a secure children’s home. In this environment many children speak positively about the education they receive in small classes. They are a small minority.

 

“In our view, our education system has to do better with children who display challenging behaviour. Schools which place an emphasis on “inclusion” demonstrate that it is possible to teach these children successfully and they should be encouraged. Our Association has recently completed a two year project in partnership with the charity Achievement for All and Manchester Metropolitan University. This aimed to improve educational outcomes for young people in the youth justice system who have special educational needs. The project was funded by the Department for Education and the project’s findings have been sent to the Department. We believe you will find them to be relevant to the work of your review, and we would be happy to give further evidence in due course.”

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AYM Chair signs up to video-links justice

AYM Chair signs up to video-links justice

Lesley Tregear, AYM Chair is a signatory on behalf of the AYM  in a letter published in today’s Times newspaper (17/4/18). A transcript of the letter follows.

Sir, Recently a 17-year-old boy was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment by video link, without consultation with his youth offending team officer. The boy will have been alone (save for a prison officer) in a small room at the prison when he heard his sentence. The evidence shows that children struggle to understand and to participate effectively in a physical court. Research by the Standing Committee on Youth Justice, published today, shows that this is exacerbated when they are hundreds of miles from the actual court and are separated from their lawyer and carer by a video screen. It raises concerns that video links make it harder for children to comprehend the seriousness of their crimes, and may prejudice outcomes.

Despite this, the government is pressing ahead with proposals to increase the use of video links as part of the digital court reform programme. We urge the government to halt the expansion of justice by video link for child defendants until we know its effects. Until then, we argue for a firm presumption against the use of video links for child defendants, except in the most exceptional circumstances.

Gess Aird, Director, Kinetic Youth; Dr Raymond Arthur, Head of Subject (Law), Northumbria School of Law; Bob Ashford, Founder, WipetheSlateClean; Dr Tim Bateman, Reader in Youth Justice, University of Bedfordshire; Jonathan Black, Partner, BSB Solicitors; Anthony Book, Treasurer, Standing Committee for Youth Justice; Professor Mary Bosworth, Director, Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford; Phil Bowen, Director, Centre for Justice Innovation; Kate Bulman, Registered Nurse; Professor Steve Case, Loughborough University; Joanne Cecil, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers; Dave Clarke, Chair, Secure Accommodation Network (SAN); Peter Dawson, Director, Prison Reform Trust; Anne-Marie Day, University of Wolverhampton; Anne-Marie Douglas, CEO, Peer Power; John Drew, Chair, Criminal Justice Alliance; Caroline Dyer, Chair, YOT Managers Cymru; Kathy Evans, CEO, Children England; Natasha Finlayson, CEO, Become; Rhona Friedman, Solicitor, Commons Law; Kamini Gadhok, CEO, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists; Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe, Director, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge; Penelope Gibbs, Director, Transform Justice; Professor Barry Goldson, Charles Booth Chair of Social Science, University of Liverpool; Pippa Goodfellow, Senior Lecturer in Youth Justice, Nottingham Trent University; Dr Faith Gordon, Director, Youth Justice Network, and Lecturer in Criminology, University of Westminster; Dr Di Hart, Children’s Services Consultant; Tom Hawker-Dawson, Bye-Fellow in Law, Downing College, University of Cambridge; Chris Henley QC, Vice Chair, Criminal Bar Association; Professor Kathryn Hollingsworth, Newcastle Law School; Professor Mike Hough, Birkbeck, University of London; Professor Carolyn Hoyle, Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford; Dr Jessica Jacobson, Director, Institute for Criminal Policy Research; Peter Jones, Director of Social Justice and Rehabilitation, Catch22; Lorraine Khan, Associate Director for Children and Young People, Centre for Mental Health; Louise King, Director, Children’s Rights Alliance for England; Dr Caroline Lanskey, Lecturer in Applied Criminology, University of Cambridge; Caroline Liggins, Solicitor, Hodge Jones & Allen LLP; Ross Little, Chair, National Association for Youth Justice (NAYJ); Yvonne MacNamara, CEO, The Traveller Movement; Richard Mold, Director, Devon Young People’s Trust; Mary O’Shaugnessy, Consultant; Professor Nicola Padfield, Professor of Criminal and Penal Justice, University of Cambridge; Greg Powell, President, London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association; Joe Russo, CEO, The Enthusiasm Trust; Professor Hannah Smithson, Professor of Criminology and Youth Justice, Manchester Metropolitan University; Enver Solomon, CEO, Just for Kids Law; Martha Spurrier, Director, Liberty; Christopher Stacey, Co-Director, Unlock; Gary Stephenson, CEO, Restorative Solutions; Greg Stewart, Director, GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates; Jacob Tas, CEO, Nacro; John Tenconi, Chair, Michael Sieff Foundation; Lesley Tregear, Chair, Association of YOT Managers; George Turner, CEO, Carney’s Community; Alexandra Wigzell, Chair, Standing Committee for Youth Justice; Stuart Wild, Criminal Department Head, Bird & Co Solicitors

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Parliamentary Education Committee’s Inquiry

AYM has today submitted its views to the Parliamentary Education Committee’s Inquiry into alternative provision to mainstream schooling. Details of the inquiry can be found on https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/education-committee/news-parliament-2017/alternative-provision-inquiry-2017-19-/

Read our submission here

Parliamentary Enquiry into Alternation Education Provision

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AYM respond to HMIP Report on public protection

HMI Probation have just published their Inspection Report on “The Work of Youth Offending Teams to Protect the Public” (26th October).

AYM welcomes many of the conclusions about work with young people convicted of violent and other serious crimes. In the foreword, Dame Glenys Stacey states that trauma-informed practice needs developing, as does work relating to the use of social media in serious offences, and “we found YOTs protecting the public well and doing good work to change young people’s lives for the better”.

We agree with the need to develop trauma-informed practice, especially as the young people being worked with have increasingly complex needs.

Whilst we recognise the need for the role of social media in serious offending to be understood and addressed, we are less clear about how that can be done within the existing legislative framework. Dame Glenys says that “there is also a strong case for monitoring the social media output of young people who pose a risk to others”, although the Executive Summary states that “staff need up to date practice guidance and policy, consistent with current surveillance legislation and guidance”. So, AYM would welcome a discussion with HMIP and the YJB about how they feel YOTs can monitor social media, as we would be concerned about implementing this without clear boundaries in place, and we would want a focus on supporting young people towards a positive use of social media .

AYM is pleased to hear that desistance principles are being embedded in practice, and our national conference in Newcastle in 2016 had this as its theme.

The other themes picked up in the report relate to good practice, including court reports, work with victims, and governance arrangements. So, the conclusions are very positive, and in line with AYM expectations and knowledge of current practice. It is also positive to hear that YOTs are doing a good job, especially as the success of the youth justice in recent years is in direct contrast to failings in other parts of the criminal justice system.

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AYM responds to the NICE consultation on ADHD

AYM has suggested to NICE that young people who offend should be included as a priority recognition group for ADHD, in addition to the existing young people in the secure estate group. We stressed the need to ensure appointments are not withdrawn for non-compliance, as the complex needs of such young people should be the priority. We reminded NICE of seconded health staff and their role in supporting both young people and other health professionals in delivering services effectively. Finally, we reminded NICE that their broad age groupings do not allow for the wide range of child development presented by young people.

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