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AYM response to Lammy report

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.

Lesley Tregear

Chair of the Association of YOT Managers

and Warwickshire Youth Justice Service Manager

Tel: 01926 682661

Mobile: 0787 6587833

e-mail: lesleytregear@warwickshire.gov.uk

 

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AYM responds to ONS consultation

AYM has responded to the Office for National Statistics consultation on changes to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). The level of funding for the Survey is being reduced, and the consultation was to identify how to achieve cost savings.

AYM does not agree with the reduction in funding for CSEW. If funding is reduced then we favour reducing the response rate and sample size by small amounts. We also disagree with removing the victim module questions, due to the critical nature of victim input to the CJS.

The CSEW provides YOTs with independently verified data which is readily quotable in national and local consultations, and which is sometimes missed by government departments. As such, the Crime Survey for England and Wales is considered to be a far more accurate measure of crime and anti-social behaviour than published police statistics. So in our view it is critical that the CSEW remains valid and accessible in representing the true extent of crime in England and Wales.

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Successful AYM AGM

The AYM AGM took place in Rugby on the 6th of June. The AGM was well attended with over 40 members present who heard from new Youth Justice Board Chair Charlie Taylor, who stressed that he wanted to work closely with the AYM during his tenure. Members also heard passionate presentations from Marius Frank from Achievement for All (AfA) about the Special Educational Needs work in the youth justice system that AfA and the AYM have been undertaking, Ian Acheson author of the Government report into extremism in the secure estate and Ch Insp Dean Jones, deputising for DCC Karen Manners, National Police Chief’s lead on vulnerability.

Lesley Tregear (Warwickshire) and Andy Peaden (Leeds) were re-elected as Chair and Vice Chair respectively. Matt Bywater (Swindon) and Diz Minnitt (Milton Keynes) joined the AYM Executive. Ben Finley (Barnsley) was confirmed as the new AYM regional representative for Yorkshire and Humberside.

 

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AYM hosts youth crime diversion workshops

The AYM recently hosted three successful youth crime diversion workshops by the Centre for Justice Innovation in Leeds, Rugby and Winchester. The link below gives details about the content of the three days

http://justiceinnovation.org/blog/

 

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AYM contributes to NICE consultation on child abuse and neglect.

AYM views​ the NICE child abuse and neglect guidelines as positive and well-researched. We raised concerns about the lack of age-specific context in the consultation document, as it appeared to be geared towards younger children. We pointed out that there is a tendency to blame older children for what happens to them (as evidenced in the Rotherham CSE report), which risks not recognising them as children under UNCRC 1989.  Other specific points included the need to recognise the speech, communication and language needs of young people, and the need to build and use trusted relationships so that young people feel able to share their experiences of abuse and neglect.

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AYM responds to the Sentencing Council consultation on bladed articles and offensive weapons

Our consultation response is summarised as follows;

The guidelines suggest that the adult sentencing guideline should be the same irrespective of age. While this is validated by the mitigating factors listed, concerning the age and maturity of the offender, we feel it is critical to raise our concern about recent
research, which suggests maturation and cognitive development in young adults is still happening up to 25 years. See article at http://www.pnas.org/content/113/32/9105.full or BBC News account at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36887224 . So, applying a blanket adult sentencing approach to this age group along with all adult offenders needs some
attention.

We also have concerns about youths being treated the same as adults for sentencing purposes, except for a 1/3 or more deduction depending upon age. The need to see children as significantly different is part of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children
1988, as well as the need to recognise their maturation and cognitive developments. This approach of a reduction in sentence could be viewed as treating young people as junior adults rather than as children. We are keen to see the right approach to sentencing young people as children first, and as offenders second, managing the risks they pose to themselves and others, but also ensuring meaningful development into responsible adulthood. While there is a need to ensure transitions work effectively, we would repeat the point made in the previous paragraph about young adults’ cognition not being fully developed before the age of 25 years.

However, we do welcome  the proposal which states “the youth guideline follows a different structure to the adult guidelines, and does not include starting points or ranges.”

The AYM has an agreed policy statement about the use of custody for young offenders:
“That the punishment of custody for young offenders lies in the loss of liberty itself and therefore should only be used as a last resort and where the public have to be protected. Where young people have to be sent to custody they should be held in
small local secure units close to their home.” See http://aym.org.uk/about-us/where-westand/ .

This approach needs to be at the heart of all custodial decision making, in our view. It is based upon the knowledge that once a young person experiences custody their life chances are seriously adversely affected. This is backed up by many research examples, including the recent Laming Review at http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/ProjectsResearch/CareReview

For a copy of our full response please contact Ian Langley, AYM Secretary e-mail: ian.langley@hants.gov.uk

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Response to the Report and Government Response to the National Review of Youth Justice undertaken by Charlie Taylor

The AYM is pleased that the long awaited report, following the national review of youth justice provision in England and Wales by Charlie Taylor, has now been published.  The government’s response to the recommendations within the report demonstrates a commitment to improving youth justice provision, particularly in the secure estate, whilst recognising that children who offend are a complex group of individuals with significant needs of their own. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-the-youth-justice-system

An increased focus on improving the health, mental health and education for young people in custody is something the AYM fully supports.  Whilst the AYM would wish to see fewer young people incarcerated it recognizes that some will require support outside normal community provision in order to protect others.  It is therefore pleased to see that changes to the type of provision provided will commence with 2 pilots, providing an opportunity to review at an early stage the effectiveness of the new provision and its ability to safeguard those young people whilst they are detained.
The government’s promise to provide a £15 million boost to frontline staffing for youth custody to improve safety, and to provide dedicated officers to oversee the progress of young people is also welcomed.

The AYM is also pleased to see that the government is looking to establish a clear set of standards to support this; the appointment of a Head of Operations is seen by the AYM as providing governance to this framework.  The AYM is keen to understand better their plans to strengthen inspections for custodial settings and to provide a power to the inspectorate to require another body to manage an establishment found to be significantly underperforming.
Of particular importance is the government’s recognition of the importance of the Youth Justice Grant in helping to formulate and support youth justice provision, and the willingness of the government to build on the success of youth offending teams, delivered flexibly in order to meet the local needs.  However, the AYM would be concerned if the review of Charlie Taylor’s proposals compromised the statutory multi-agency composition of youth offending teams which has been at the heart of the excellent performance in safeguarding young people and the community, reducing custody and re-offending by young people.  The AYM is keen to offer support to the planning of any improvements to what is already a highly successful system.

Work with the police and the judiciary to ensure young people entering and progressing through the criminal justice system are safeguarded and provided with all necessary support and safeguards is also welcomed.  This announcement, on the same day as the announcement of the Bar Standards Board to improve advocacy standards in youth court proceedings, suggests that the experience of children and young people in the criminal justice system will be improved significantly.

The AYM is particularly pleased to hear from the minister that the Government will work with the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales and Youth Offending Teams to implement change.  The success of the last 16 years in youth justice provision is something that is unsurpassed in public service delivery and it is pleasing to hear that those that have effected such significant improvements to the lives of young people and their communities will be included in future planning.

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AYM part of new initiative for young offenders with Special Educational Needs

A ground-breaking new online training programme is being launched which aims to provide the essential support to the many young people with special educational needs (SEN) who are in custody and also those at risk of offending, helping them achieve better outcomes (well-being, education and employment) and substantially reduce their risk of offending or reoffending.

The online learning platform will provide free training and support to every professional in the Youth Justice System to improve practice, reduce offending by young people and improve their educational outcomes.

Funded by the Department for Education, the programme is being delivered by national education charity Achievement for All (AfA), in partnership with the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

Marius Frank, Director at Achievement for All, said: “We have developed a series of innovative modules which sit on a new online learning platform called the Youth Justice SEND Bubble. The modules have been written by frontline professionals for frontline professionals. There is nothing stronger than peer-to-peer learning. It captures the passion and commitment of dedicated professionals, shares existing best practice and develops consistency across the YJS in England.”

Young people with a special educational need are five times more likely to enter the youth justice system, with 18% of sentenced young people in custody having a statement of special educational needs. Additional research shows that up to 90% of young offenders have below average speech, language and communication skills, with up to 67% having language skills which are ‘poor or very poor’.

The majority of these young people have been excluded from school at some point and as a result, have never had their conditions properly diagnosed or addressed. Many of them also suffer family breakdown, trauma, abusive relationships or poverty.

Marius continued: “Rather than be punished, these young people need to be helped, their needs identified and met, and their life chances transformed.  Investing in effective early intervention work will also save considerable costs to communities and to government further down the line: it is a win-win-win solution.”

The Youth Justice SEND Bubble will be launched at the Youth Justice Convention in Milton Keynes on 30th November 2016. The online modules are free to access and offer a comprehensive learning environment on legislation, practice and special education needs in the YJS. It is for staff in youth offending, secure estate, health and care, and local authority SEN teams.

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Over fifty members of AYM met in Rugby for the annual general meeting on 9 June. MoJ’s review of the youth justice system

We heard that the publication of the MoJ’s review of the youth justice system has been brought forward and agreed to write to Charlie Taylor, who is leading the review.

See letter below

From the Chair of the Association 10 June 2016 To Charlie Taylor, Ministry of Justice Review of the Youth Justice System
Dear Charlie,

We were sorry you were unable to join us at our AGM this week but fully understand the reasons for this. With nearly 50 of our members all in one place we used the opportunity to think about the key messages that we would want you to hear from YOT managers as you prepare to publish your review.

Firstly we wanted to say that we have appreciated the way you have set about your task; you have taken the time and trouble to meet many of our members and their partnership boards, and, most importantly, you have gone out of your way to listen to the voices of young people who are caught up in the justice system. Thank you.

We know that you have given a great deal of attention to the secure estate, and we do not propose to say a great deal about that part of the youth justice system, other than to repeat our long held view that rehabilitation is most effective if the small number of young people who must be detained are kept in small secure units, staffed by well-trained people who are committed to working for positive change in young people. Ideally, such units should be close enough to the young person’s home for family contact to be maintained.

We want to focus on the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, and on what we see as the four pillars on which the delivery of youth justice services stand: the YOT, the YOT manager, the YOT steering group and the national coordination of the system via the Youth Justice Board. We have heard that someone has described the 1998 Act as a “straightjacket” from which the system needs to be liberated. We do not agree. Of course the legislation needs to be updated to take account of issues such as the large rise in out-of-court disposals and the current trend for devolution of responsibilities to local areas. But please do not be tempted to undermine the four pillars of the system, lest the whole edifice comes crashing down.

Youth Offending Teams

Dealing first with the concept of the YOT, we heard this described by an eminent professor at our AGM as: “The best example of multi-agency and multi-professional working – a remarkable success story in reducing crime and criminalisation, showing humanity, care and compassion within a context of control and containment”. We are proud of this assessment, and of the well-documented achievements of YOT partnerships in reducing first-time entrants to the system and reducing the use of custody. We take the view that the concept of the YOT has been one of the best pieces of public

sector reform of this century, and established a model which many others parts of health and social care have sought to copy.

A number of our members have been around long enough to remember the youth justice system of the 1980’s and 90’s. There were some good people doing some very good work, but this was fragmented and inconsistent. There was a strong sense of there being “injustice by geography”. One member described youth justice at the time as “a Cinderella issue managed by Cinderella services”. Our anxieties about greater devolution are that partner agencies may feel freer to withdraw their best staff from YOTs; case transfers between YOTs will be become more difficult as services’ offerings become more diverse, and it will become as difficult to compare the quality and effectiveness of services as to compare apples with pears.

Please think about how the YOT model can be further strengthened by tying partners in more tightly with their financial and staffing contributions. Think also about how the model could be extended to include young adults aged 18- 24, given the inadequacies in services currently offered to this age group as well as the important research into brain development in late adolescence. Extending the remit of YOTs to age 25 would be in line with the new code for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities; it would also be in line with the intended changes to “leaving care” support for Looked after Children which the current plans are also to extend to 25.

The YOT Manager

YOT managers are key in providing leadership to a team or service of professional staff drawn from many different backgrounds. Many of us take on additional responsibilities in areas such as safeguarding boards and local criminal justice boards. Some provide leadership to other multi agency services within their areas. We believe it is important that YOT managers are inspirational leaders who are competent to manage public protection, safeguarding and retain the confidence of their staff, of young people, of victims of crime, their local communities and the courts. They should not be seen as “belonging” to one agency, such as to a local authority’s children’s services or to the Police and Crime Commissioner, but rather as belonging to the multi-agency partnership.

A straw poll of our members at our AGM suggested that over 80% now come from social work background. In 2000, a greater number would have been drawn from other professions, notably from probation and police. We find this change regrettable and would like to see greater encouragement to all of the YOT partners to identify potential leaders in the future. We believe that new leaders need to be trained and supported in their roles and for the last two years we, as an association, have provided a leadership development programme for “Aspiring Future Youth Justice Leaders”. These programmes have been fully subscribed and the feedback from participants has been exceptionally positive.

The Steering Group

The YOT steering group, now more commonly called a management board or a partnership board, holds the YOT manager to account and, just as importantly, hold each of the partners to account for the contribution each of them is making to preventing offending. The model is a very effective one, but needs some support and nurturing if it is to survive more years of austerity. In a sense these boards have become a victim of their own success; with youth crime now so much lower than in

2000, there is the temptation for partners to send less senior people (or no one at all) to represent them, so that boards become less strategic and less ambitious. Effective partnership boards understand that while they may be dealing with a smaller cohort of children and young people, their needs and the risks they present are more complex, and need ever more sophisticated responses from the agencies around the table.

Our steering groups are wary of some aspects of devolution. They are concerned about the risk of fragmentation and national inconsistency; most steering groups are keen to be able to compare their performance with others. They are keen to improve their YOTs, and we are proud of the role that AYM members are taking in developing the “Peer-led Improvement Process” for YOTs and we plan to continue to develop this.

Management boards have differing views, of course, but many are particularly wary of the devolution of budgets for secure accommodation, as they have limited control over the way the judiciary will require them to spend these budgets.

The Youth Justice Board

It will of course be for the YJB to make its own representations to you about its future. We would just say that without a strong body providing national leadership, the youth justice system will be weaker. We have seen ministerial responsibility for youth justice move from the Home Office to (the then) Department for Children and Families, and to the Ministry of Justice. We do not think it helpful that responsibility rests with one ministry; better for central government to model the kind of cooperative work that it expects to see at a local level. In order to achieve cross-departmental ownership of the youth justice system, we will, in our view, continue to need a body to carry out many of the functions of the YJB.

Two further points in conclusion: firstly, as an association, we stand ready to do even more to help to consolidate the youth justice reforms of the last 18 years. Our resources are limited: we rely on subscriptions from our members of just £150 per annum, plus the small profit we make from our training programme. Our enthusiasm for the youth justice system, however, is unlimited. Secondly, YOTs have been successful in meeting the objectives set for them in spite of their reducing resources. Of course this does not mean we have done the job; future performance will only be achieved if we continue to function. There is a continual flow of new young people to be worked with.

We look forward to continuing this dialogue with you

Kind regards

Lesley Tregear Lesleytregear@warwickshire.gov.uk

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New AYM Chair & Vice Chair

At its AGM in Rugby yesterday (9/6/16) Lesley Tregear (Warwickshire Yot) was elected unopposed as the new Chair of the Association succeeding Gareth Jones (Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington Yot) who has stepped down after leading the AYM for the last 4 years. Andy Peaden (Leeds Yot) replaces Lesley as Vice Chair. Both were congratulated by AYM members on their election and sincere thanks given to Gareth Jones for his outstanding leadership of the AYM.

Ian Langley (Hampshire), Joel Hanna (Sheffield) and Terry Gibson (Torbay) respectively remain as Secretary, Asst Secretary and Treasurer. Jessica Edwards (Brighton & Hove Yot) was elected to the AYM Executive for the first time as an Additional Executive Member replacing Davie Parks (Newcastle Yot) who has succeeded Pam Vedhara MBE (South Tyneside) as the AYM’s North East Regional rep. Charlie Spencer (formerly Sandwell Yot) and Amrik Panaser (Oxfordshire) continue as Additional Exec Members.

Former Chair Gareth Jones will remain on the AYM Executive as a non voting Observer.

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