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Joint winners of the John Hawkins Award

The AYM is delighted to announce that for the first time there are joint winners of this years John Hawkins Award for innovative youth justice practice who will share the £500 prize fund.

Following judging by young people from last years winners Bradford YOT, congratulations go to Hampshire YOT for their Therapeutic Wellbeing ​Officers (TWO) project and Lancashire Child and Youth Justice Services, Your Choice Diversion programme.

The John Hawkins Award is made annually by the AYM in the memory of John Hawkins their former Treasurer, AYM Founding Member and Head of East Sussex YOT. Normally the award is presented at the Youth Justice Convention but due to Covid19 restrictions arrangements will be made for AYM Chair Hazel Williamson to virtually present the award to both winners in the near future.


New AYM Chair and Vice Chair elected

Hazel Williamson, Head of Staffordshire YOT and previously AYM Vice-Chair has been elected as the new AYM Chair at the Associations AGM today replacing Andy Peaden (Head of Leeds YOT) who stood down after two years of sterling service. Hazel’s successor as Vice Chair is Jacqui Belfield – Smith (Head of Stockport YOT). 

In her opening remarks as new Chair Hazel said she was ‘proud and privileged to be elected as the new chair of AYM’ and thanked outgoing Chair Andy Peaden ‘who has made a huge difference during his time as chair.’ She also offered her congratulations to Jacqui on her election as Vice Chair and that she was ‘Looking forward to championing youth justice’.

Prior to the start of the AGM Justin Russell, Chief Inspector, HM Inspectorate of Probation and Keith Fraser, Chair of the Youth Justice Board addressed AYM members. Both Justin and Keith paid tribute to the hard work of Youth Offending Teams during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the AGM Ian Langley and Jessica Edwards (Hackney YOT) were re-elected as Secretary and Asst Secretary respectively and Terry Gibson was re-elected as Treasurer. The AGM also approved the Treasurer’s recommendation to increase AYM subscription rates for the first time in 10 years.

Diz Minnitt (Milton Keynes YOT) was re-elected as an Additional Executive Member and former Chair Andy Peaden was also elected as an Additional Executive Member.



AYM Executive proposes dedicated meeting to address concerns of racism and disproportionality in the criminal justice system.

After the recent AYM executive meeting, Chair Andy Peaden sent out an email to all AYM members inviting representatives from all areas to become involved. He wrote:

“The AYM executive met this week and following the meeting we wanted to express our dismay at the manner of George Floyd’s death and our distress at the way in which events are unfolding in the United States and in the United Kingdom. We wanted to express our support for the Black Lives Matter movement and for dealing with the issues of racism and disproportionality that are present within society and particularly within in the criminal justice system.

We recognise that addressing the issue of racial injustice is vital to our society and that as the professional association for youth justice managers, AYM has a big part to play in relation to highlighting and challenging inequality and injustice where we see it within the criminal justice system and within our day to day work.

It is vital that those of us in positions of power and Influence use our voice to address these concerns and also vital to ensure that we listen to the experience of the children and communities that we deal with. We are committed to the concept of ‘explain or reform’ that was proposed within the Lammy report.

We understand that many of the children and families that we deal with and many others in society are angry, frightened and confused, and we want to ensure that we do our best to support youth offending team colleagues to address these concerns.

We welcome dialogue across the sector and all suggestions and as to how we might address these issues and support colleagues as we move forward.

The executive is proposing to host a dedicated meeting for members as an opportunity to discuss and share ideas, and has asked AYM regional representatives to identify volunteers within regions to ensure that we have coverage from all areas and we would welcome any thoughts as to how such a meeting might best be configured?”



Children included in numbers to be released from custody due to Covid19.

The YJB have notified YOT Managers of the possibility of COVID-19 releases from the secure estate for a small number of low risk children. Over the coming weeks YOTs and Governors/Directors will be assessing individual children who may be suitable.  The YJB are developing joint guidance with YCS to support assessments of suitability taking into account any risks and safeguarding concerns.  The YJB has been given an assurance from the Ministry of Justice that children will only be released when the Youth Offending Team is satisfied that a child can be safely managed in the community: victims of any children being released will be contacted to be advised of the child’s release.


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​


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.


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


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


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.”


SEND Project publishes reflections on two years of working with YOTs and their partners

With our SEND project having come to an end, AYM is able to publish a set of reflections from the project team (AYM, Achievement for All and Manchester Metropolitan University). Local area partnerships might wish to consider following up on some of these examples of innovative practice with young people with SEND.