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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
AYM celebrates the work of 50 Youth Offending Teams and their outstanding work in helping children and young people
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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:
Read our submission here
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.
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.
AYM have written to Charlie Taylor, Chair of the YJB, about safety in the youth secure estate. This follows on from the statement by the Chief Inspector of Prisons that no establishment inspected was safe to hold young people, and that the speed of decline was staggering.
Lesley Tregear, Chair of AYM, said that this is of great concern to YOT Managers, staff and Management Boards around the country, as well as to Safeguarding Children Boards and we need some answers to ensure children are safe, and to reassure us that the current decline of standards is being addressed and improved.
We will share the response with members in due course.
AYM’s response to the NICE child cruelty consultation focused on children in custodial establishments. There have been events in Medway Secure Training Centre (STC) and elsewhere in the child secure estate, which have been covered in the media. E.g. see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-35290582 . For us these events raise issues around culpability of perpetrators being increased due to the vulnerability of victims as well as the abuse of power by staff employed to safeguard children. We also pointed out that the guideline only covers children under 16 years, when legally children are defined as under 18 years old.
THE ASSOCIATION OF YOT MANAGERS RESPONSE TO THE LAMMY REVIEW: An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System
8th September 2017
The AYM welcomes the publication of the review by David Lammy MP which understandably has taken considerable time to complete. The work to produce the report has been comprehensive with analysis of data and consultation with all sectors of the criminal justice system; it includes a comparative review with justice systems in other countries. The AYM which represents 82% of the youth offending teams in England was pleased to be involved in this review.
The findings in the review regarding the treatment and outcomes for BAME young people, and the inclusion of those of Gypsy, Roma and Travellers (GRT) within this review, a group which is often overlooked, are well considered and the resultant recommendations are something the AYM would be keen to help develop further. It is re-assuring to see the qualification Lammy places on the cause of overrepresentation of BAME in the criminal justice system, recognizing the effect of poverty on individuals which may lead to a number of disadvantages, including increased likelihood of offending.
The review recognizes the reduction in youth crime, re-offending and custody but rightly highlights the fact that these reductions are not represented amongst BAME, noting in particular the disproportionality of BAME young people pleading not guilty. Lammy highlights the distrust of BAME individuals in the criminal justice system and those working within it, and the correlation of this with increased likelihood of receiving a custodial sentence and the associated higher level of offending following release from custody.
Lammy highlights the need for criminal justice agencies to work closer with local communities and for sentencers to be more representative of their community. The review particularly cites the needs for youth justice hearings to be undertaken in the community. The AYM would welcome dialogue with Lammy and the Ministry of Justice regarding this. As the report states, youth offending teams (YOTs) have many years of engaging the community in referral order panels (which Lammy would like renamed to Local Justice Panels) which could provide evidence of good practice to help such a development. Providing powers to these panels to hold other services to account for their role in a child’s rehabilitation is a welcomed feature of recommendation 18.
Recommendation 19 suggests magistrates should follow a number of cases in the youth justice system from start to finish. The AYM would support such monitoring but would want to extend that to all sentencers; magistrates generally have greater liaison with their YOT than judges and increasing this recommendation to all sentencers would be beneficial in ensuring all elements of the youth criminal justice system are drawn closer to their local community.
The review also highlights the issue of criminal records resulting from youth offending which have serious deleterious effects on a young person’s life chances. The review quotes the call in the Taylor Review for spent convictions to become non-disclosable, on standard and enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks. Recommendations 34 and 35 are in line with the principles of the AYM and we hope that the review of criminal records legislation will result in an amendment to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act which continues to negatively impact on employment opportunities for young people. For our position statements on this and other youth justice issues please see http://aym.org.uk/about-us/where-we-stand/
The review is critical of the small number of parenting orders made where young people offend which unfortunately overlooks the amount of parenting support provided by YOTs on a voluntary basis, which in some areas is significant.
Gang and group offending are concerning to all and the recommendation for CPS to consider its approach to prosecution of these offences, and in particular Joint Enterprise, is welcomed; as is the call for an examination of Modern Slavery legislation to protect vulnerable young people.
Deferred prosecution is also a welcomed recommendation. Many YOTs and Police Forces have been using a similar approach to out of court disposals, reducing the likelihood of further offending by providing the necessary support to young people’s needs rather than focussing on the delivery of punishment for an offence.
The introduction of an assessment for maturity for offenders up to the age of 21yrs is also welcomed. However, whilst the extension of support from YOTs, to those between 18 and 21yrs who are not considered mature, is welcomed and something the AYM would fully support it must not be introduced without the necessary transfer of funding to support such work.
The recommendations in the report are something the AYM would wish to support. Many are not directed toward YOTs or youth justice but the AYM is supportive of all in that they aim to improve relationships between the criminal justice system and local communities, and to safeguard and protect individuals within the criminal justice system and remove any causes of disproportionality with regard to BAME and GRT.
Recommendations to improve the secure estate are welcomed and in particular recommendation 20 and 21 which look to improve health provision within this estate.
Finally, the AYM whilst welcoming of this report is keen to ensure that changes to youth justice provision are undertaken in a similar way to this review , with care and full consideration of all aspects of the system. We look forward to reading the government response to this report and hope to be invited to help formulate future thinking on how the recommendations are taken forward.
Chair of the Association of YOT Managers
and Warwickshire Youth Justice Service Manager
Tel: 01926 682661
Mobile: 0787 6587833