AYM raise safety concerns with the YJB

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 has responded to the NICE consultation on child cruelty

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.



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 https://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



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.


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.



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




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.


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

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 https://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


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.