Events and Blog

News on legislation and policy, NAYJ conferences and training events and youth justice news.


Letter to the Times

On 14th November Lord Harris (Chair of the Independent panel on deaths in custody) expressed his view that too many vulnerable people are imprisoned. Sadly, his commission has only been asked to look at deaths in custody of those aged over 18. But the overwhelming emotional and mental health problems that prompt self- harm start much earlier and are particularly prevalent among those children we lock up. While it is to be commended that the number of children in custody has decreased, this means that those we do incarcerate are the most vulnerable. They will have experienced abuse and domestic violence, have learning or speech and language difficulties and untreated mental health problems. One fifth of them will have self –harmed and 11% attempted suicide before they went into custody. It should be obvious that these children are in desperate need of care, therapy and a regime that assists in their rehabilitation if they are not to continue to offend and move into the adult prison system. It is therefore of great concern that the plans to spend £87 million on a new ‘secure college’ are being pushed through parliament. How can an establishment, purposely designed to be a cheap option and holding over 300 hundred children aged 12 to 17, hope to address these complex issues? In particular, we learn that the Rules for this secure college will allow physical force to be used to ensure ‘good order and discipline’. Let us not forget that a 14 year old boy committed suicide in custody because he had been restrained for this purpose, a measure that was found by the high court to be illegal at the time.

All the available evidence tells us that warehousing children in a large establishment is more likely to increase the risk of self – harm and suicide and will do nothing to reintegrate these children back into society.

Pam Hibbert, OBE, Chair National Association for Youth Justice
Professor Dame Sue Bailey, Chair Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition
Peter Hindley, Royal College of Psychaiatrists

2014 Events

We would like to thank all the speakers, workshop presenters and delegates who attended our two events held in April and June this year (2014). To see the report and access slides and other papers, please click below to download.

Ali Wigzell PowerPoint Presentation Click here to view
Ali Wigzell ‘Who_works_rather_than_what_works’ PowerPoint Presentation Click here to view
Dragons Den PowerPoint Presentation Click here to view
Sam King Supporting Desistance in Youth Justice PowerPoint Presentation Click here to view
Sue Bailey Slides Prof. PowerPoint Presentation Click here to view
Sue Bailey & John Bache Paper Click here to view
Tim Bateman PowerPoint Presentation Click here to view
Youth Graffiti Solutions PowerPoint Presentation Click here to view
Report on AGM and De Montfort Events Click here to view



Hosted by De Montfort University, Leicester

“Transforming youth justice?”

June 24th 2014

For an non-student application form click here and for a student application form click here, a workshop application form please download by clicking here or for more details email

The day will comprise a mixture of plenary sessions and workshops with opportunities for delegates to participate.

Dr. Tim Bateman (University of Bedfordshire)

Professor Jo Phoenix (Leicester University)

Gareth Jones (Association of YOT Managers), Rapporteur 

Workshop topics include:

• Working with sex offenders

• Transforming the youth court

• Desistance

• The use Non Violent Resistance as an intervention

• Mental health services in youth justice

• The use of the Rapid English approach

• ‘Who works’ rather than ‘what works’

• Creating independence to reduce offending

• Participation by young people in the system

• Reparative activity with young people

NAYJ members £15 Non members £20

(There are some concessions for non – waged people. Please contact

NAYJ members have FREE access to the Youth Justice Journal

The next issue of Youth Justice has just been published. NAYJ members may be interested to note that this comprises a special themed issue on the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility.

Some details:

The Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility: Clinical, Criminological/Sociological, Developmental and Legal Perspectives

Editorial: The Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility: Clinical, Criminological/Sociological, Developmental and Legal Perspectives
Richard Church, Barry Goldson and Nick Hindley

The Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility: A Medico-Legal Perspective
Enys Delmage

‘Unsafe, Unjust and Harmful to Wider Society’: Grounds for Raising the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility in England and Wales
Barry Goldson

Developmental Factors Affecting Children in Legal Contexts
Michael E. Lamb and Megan P. Y. Sim

An Age of Complexity: Children and Criminal Responsibility in Law
Claire McDiarmid

6th December 2012…Our letter to youth justice minister Jeremy Wright MP

Date 6th December 2012

Dear Minister

There is a clear, and growing, consensus among the practitioner, academic and policy communities that the minimum age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales should be reviewed as a matter of urgency.

Set at ten years, the age at which children are deemed to be criminally liable is – excluding the other jurisdictions within the United Kingdom – the lowest in the European Union and is well below the international average outside of Europe. This position has drawn criticism from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child as constituting a breach of international children’s human rights standards.

The adoption of such a low age is also illogical given other statutory age related safeguards and regulations that apply to children: whereas a child of primary school age may be processed through the criminal courts and acquire a criminal record that, for some purposes, will remain with him or her for life, that same child cannot consent to have sex until the age of 16 years and is prohibited from driving a car until he or she is 17. Perhaps more significantly, the attribution of full culpability at such a young age runs counter to all the available evidence on children’s cognitive and emotional development. The pre-frontal cortex of the brain, for instance, which is important for impulse control and decision-making, continues to develop into the early 20s, more than ten years after the point at which children are considered by the criminal law to be fully responsible for their actions just as a mature adult.

We are aware that your predecessor, Crispin Blunt, rejected any suggestion that the age of criminal responsibility was too low, arguing that children know the difference between right and wrong at an early age. We do not deny that there is a sense in which this is true, but ethical understanding, like literacy, is not a once and for all achievement; it improves with conceptual maturity, and in the process takes on a qualitatively different nature. The publication today of a paper by the National Association for Youth Justice, sets out the compelling evidence for change and we would urge you to review the government’s position, accept the need to raise the age of criminal responsibility considerably, and initiate a wide-ranging consultation to determine how best to achieve this.

Yours sincerely,

Pam Hibbert OBE Chair of Trustees, National Association for Youth Justice


Dr. Maggie Atkinson Children’s Commissioner for England

Professor Sue Bailey President, Royal College of Psychiatrists

Rob Allen Director, Justice and Prisons; former Member of Youth Justice Board

Eric Allison  Prisons Correspondent, the Guardian

Barry Anderson Former CEO Communities that Care UK

Bob Ashford Wipe the Slate Clean

Mark Ashford TV Edwards Solicitors

Dr Raymond Arthur University of Teesside

John Bache JP Magistrate

Dr Gillian Baird Paediatrician

Dr Tim Bateman Reader in Youth Justice Univ of Bedfordshire

Camila Batmanghelidjh Chief Executive, Kids Company

Sue BerelowitzDeputy Children’s Commissioner for England

Jodie Blackstock Lawyer

Chris Callender TV Edwards Solicitors

David Chesterton JP Chair, Young Offenders Academy Advisory Group; Youth Court Chair

Darren Coyne Care Leavers Association

Frances Crook Chief Executive, the Howard League

Prof. Sean Duggan Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health

Dr Hilary Emery Chief Executive, National Children’s Bureau

Barbara Esam Lawyer; Trustee, Michael Sieff Foundation

Richard Garside Director Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

Penelope Gibbs Director, Transform Justice

Roger Graef Film maker

Prof Barry Goldson Charles Booth Chair of Social Science, University of Liverpool

John Graham Chair of the Northern Ireland Review of Youth Justice

Prof Kevin Haines Head of Department of Criminology, Swansea University

Dr Richard Hester Senior Lecturer, Health and Social Care, the Open University

Erwin James Journalist

Mark Johnson Founder and Chief Executive, User Voice

Andy Keen-Downs Chief Executive, PACT

Prof Michael Lamb Professor of Psychology, University of Cambridge

Shauneen Lambe Chief Executive, Justforkidslaw

Dr Nick Lessof Paediatrician

The Earl of Listowel House of Lords

Prof Rod Morgan Formerly Chair, Youth Justice Board for England and Wales

Joyce Mosley Previous CEO, Catch 22; former Member of Youth Justice Board

Steve Myers University of Salford

Tink Palmer Chief Executive, the Marie Collins Foundation

Prof Jo Phoenix Chair in Criminology, Durham University

Prof John Pitts Vauxhall Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, University of Bedfordshire

Steven Pizzey Trustee, Michael Sieff Foundation

Joyce Plotnikoff Researcher, Lexicon Limited

Dr. Rosalyn Proops Community Paediatrician

Lord David Ramsbotham House of Lords former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Matthew Reed Chief Executive, the Children’s Society

Enver SolomonDeputy Chair, the Standing Committee for Youth Justice

Chris Stanley JP Magistrate

John Tencomi Chair of Trustees, Michael Sieff Foundation

Dame Clare Tickell Chief Executive, Action for Children

Paola Uccellari Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance for England

Dr Eileen Vizard Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist;Honorary Senior Lecturer, Institute of Child Health, UCL

Richard White Secretary, Michael Sieff Foundation

Prof Howard Williamson University of Glamorgan former Member of Youth Justice Board

Richard Woolfson Lexicon Limited

Maxine Wrigley Chief Executive, A National Voice

Dr Joe Yates Director School of Humanities and Social Science, John Moores Univ, Liverpool

Melanie Stooks The London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association

NAYJ’s Letter to Guardian published 10th August 2011

Dear Sir,
At a time when there is concern that not enough suitable candidates are coming forward to stand as Police and Crime Commissioners, it is sad to see two candidates excluded because of childhood misbehaviour. (£5 fine in 1966 bars police commissioner candidate, page 15. 09.08.12). The current legislation governing children and young people who commit crime places great emphasis on prevention of re-offending. What incentive is there for a child or young person to stay out of further trouble, if they know that one minor offence will follow them and affect their prospects for the rest of their lives? There are a very small number of children and young people who commit serious offences and who may need continued monitoring; but for the majority it is counter productive to allow childhood misbehaviour to haunt them for the rest of their lives – the law should be amended as soon as possible to give a ‘clean slate’ at age 18 for all but the most serious offences.
 Pam Hibbert, OBE
Chair, National Association for Youth Justice (charity No.1138117)

Spring 2012 Newsletter

Download the Spring 2012 Newsletter HERE

New Centre for Mental Health toolkit

The Centre for Mental Health has developed a ‘point of arrest’ health screening and support tool kit. It can be found on HERE

Winter 2011 Newsletter

Download the Winter 2011 Newsletter HERE

Letter to Independent on Sunday published 27.02.11

Letter to the editor – Independent on Sunday.

Dear Sir,
The National Association for Youth Justice is delighted that the Lib Dems appear to be keeping at least one of their pre-election promises (Lib Dems clash with Tory right over child justice- Page 12, 20th February).
For too long in successive administrations youth justice policy has been characterised by political expediency and ‘knee jerk’ reaction to media reporting, rather than on a thoughtful appraisal of what is most effective in protecting society and reducing offending by children.
There is a well established and still growing body of research to show that formal contact with the youth justice system is criminalising, stigmatising and counter-productive; and that the younger a child is, when they are drawn into the system, the more likely they are to continue to offend.
The argument that this would allow younger children who commit serious crimes to ‘get away with it ‘is spurious. Children who do commit serious crimes, which are thankfully few and far between, could still be detained and held accountable for their actions even with a higher age of criminal responsibility. However, thousands of others who currently face a system based on an adult model could and should be diverted from formal systems.
Raising the age of criminal responsibility will be good for society and good for children.