AYM Response to MoJ Consultation “Strengthening Probation, Building Confidence”

On behalf of members, AYM has submitted the following response to some of the questions in the MoJ consultation on Probation.

Introduction

Youth Offending Teams have nearly 20 years’ experience of successfully managing offending by children up to the age of 18. In light of our understanding of brain development and maturation, we believe there is scope for using the same partnerships-based approach with young adult offenders up to the age of 25. The majority of these young adults are care leavers and/or have special education needs. Many are subject to formal Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and thus entitled to support from local partnerships until well into their 20s.

In preparation for this response we polled our members and received 80 responses, representing nearly two-thirds of the YOT managers in England. 51% would support the idea of youth offending teams extending their remit, subject to resourcing, to work with young adults up to age 21, and a further 24% would go even further and suggest an extension to age 25. Such a change would be consistent not only with legislation in relation to care leavers and EHCPs, but also with the way in which the secure estate separates young adults from older offenders.

With or without such a fundamental change to our remit, YOT managers stand ready to help shape a service for young adult offending that draws on the lessons from the reform of the youth justice system.

Our comments apply to England only as we have no remit to represent YOT Managers in Wales.

What steps could we take to improve the continuity of supervision throughout an offender’s sentence?

We are concerned about the experience of 18 year olds making the transition from youth justice to adult probation services, especially in cases where they are care leavers and/or the subjects of Education, Health and Care Plans because of special educational needs. There is a need for specialist, multi-agency teams to work with 18 to 25 year olds. NPS’s seconded officers in YOTs work hard to ensure transitions are effective but have been undermined in recent years by substantial cuts. We recognise and welcome the fact that NPS is now giving this interface greater attention.

What frequency of contact between offenders and offender managers is most effective to promote purposeful engagement?

In some cases this should be twice weekly in the early stages of supervision, reducing in frequency in subsequent weeks subject to an ongoing assessment of risk

What steps could we take to improve engagement between courts and CRCs?

Work with HMCTS to ensure there are active and effective court user groups in all areas

How can we promote unpaid work schemes which both make reparation to communities and equip offenders with employment-related skills and experience?

Adopt a restorative approach in which victims are actively involved in the process of identifying appropriate reparation activities. Also look at the example of The Skill Mill, a social enterprise working in the YJS https://www.theskillmill.org/

How could future resettlement services better meet the needs of offenders serving short custodial sentences?

We recommend adopting the model of locally based Resettlement Consortia as developed by the YJB and YOTs in the youth justice sector.

Which skills, training or competencies do you think are essential for responsible officers authorised to deliver probation services, and how do you think these differ depending on the types of offenders staff are working with?

We see Probation as a social work service to the courts which has a particular responsibility for public protection and for safeguarding vulnerable victims and offenders. Risk assessment, report writing and risk management are core skills for case managers.

Do you agree that changes to the structure and leadership of probation areas are sufficient to achieve integration across all providers of probation services?

No. Clarity around structure and effective leadership will be a good start, but will not be sufficient on its own. There is a need for investment in training and a need to look outwards to build partnerships with other agencies in local areas.

How can probation providers effectively secure access to the range of rehabilitation services they require for offenders, and how can key local partners contribute to achieving this?

Partnership is of course a two-way street. Some Probation providers (CRCs and NPS) have not always been reliable partners to local authorities and can expect little in return. There is a need to rebuild trust.

What should our key measures of success be for probation providers, and how can we effectively encourage the right focus on those outcomes and on the quality of services?

We suggest: frequency and seriousness of reoffending; successful completion of orders and licences; use of restorative processes and victims’ confidence; full time education, employment or training at end of supervision; in suitable accommodation at end of supervision; accessing necessary health care at end of su

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AYM has responded to Ofsted’s consultation on proposed changes to joint inspections of secure training centres.

While recognising the need for changes, and welcoming most of them, we are concerned about the proposal to drop ‘safety of young people’ and ‘resettlement of young people’ as judgement criteria. Both are critical to safeguarding and reducing offending, and need to be maintained. We agree with Ofsted proposals to step up arrangements following a judgement of inadequate, and the ‘point-in-time’ surveys of children and young people in secure training centres.

The full response is available on request via our website at http://aym.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/​

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Successful AGM sees new Chair & Vice Chair elected

Yesterday’s AYM AGM in Rugby saw a record number of AYM members attend to see Andy Peaden, former AYM Vice Chair elected unopposed as the new AYM Chair. Andy who is head of Leeds Yot succeeds Lesley Tregear (Warwickshire Yot) who is retiring after successfully leading the AYM for the last two years.

Hazel Williamson (Staffordshire Yot) former AYM Regional rep for the West Midlands becomes the new AYM Vice Chair and was also elected unopposed. Pali Obhi (Solihull Yot) has been elected by AYM members in the West Midlands to become their new AYM representative.

The AGM also saw 22 Yots presented with Quality Lead/Mark awards for their Special Educational Needs work by Prof Sonia Blandford, Chief Exec of Achievement for All who partnered with the AYM over the last two years to support the development of SEND expertise in the Youth Justice System.

Members were also addressed by Ross Little, Chair of the National Association of Youth Justice about NAYJ’s manifesto and Child – Friendly Youth Justice report and Dr Tim Bateman from Bedfordshire University about his research into Appropriate Adult work.

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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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