News, Events and Information

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

Response for Secure College Rules

Response to the consultation on the plans for Secure College Rules

The National Association for Youth Justice is a membership organization that campaigns for the rights of and justice for children in trouble with the law.

The NAYJ does not believe that Secure Colleges are the solution to the high re-offending rates of children in custody. The binary measure of reconviction used by Government has remained generally constant for over a decade. Given the welcome decrease in the number of children entering the system, and subsequently of those going into custody, it is unsurprising that we are left with a group of children with multiple problems and vulnerabilities who are frequently entrenched in their offending behavior patterns.

To expect any custodial institution, however good the education provision may be, to address this within the average 80 day sentence is unrealistic. NAYJ recognises absolutely the importance of education in helping children to change and progress. But given that currently we have no idea of either the content or quality of educational provision likely to be in place in a Secure College, it may be better to look at what evidence there is about educating troubled children. We would draw attention to a recent report by the Secure Accommodation Network (SAN) which shows that educational outcomes for children placed in SCHs are not only better than those achieved by other forms of custodial institution but also exceed those for children educated in PRUs and similar alternative education provision. We would also point to evidence from other institutions that achieve better educational outcomes such as the Ian Mikardo School in East London. This school takes children with a long history of behavioural problems, many of whom are in the criminal justice system. The school does not use punishments or physical force yet has been graded as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted for the last three years; 97% of the children go into further education, training or employment and none has received a custodial sentence in the last 7 years.

The Government has expressed concern about Secure Colleges being described as ‘child prisons’. However, it is difficult to see how the College differs from a traditional YOI. The proposed buildings are remarkably similar to previous plans for a YOI to be built on the same site and the proposed regime bears all the hallmarks of a traditional YOI approach.

We note with particular concern that the draft Secure College Rules provide for the use of adjudications and permit the use of force for ‘Good Order and Discipline’. Such an approach is entirely inconsistent with the College’s educational aims. Moreover, the recent update report from the Independent Restraint Advisory Board expresses serious concerns about the risk to children from some of the techniques allowed under the draft Rules. The NAYJ regards it as wholly unacceptable that force should be used other than to prevent harm. Recent legal opinion sought by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) casts serious doubt on the legality of such use of force which it also says is not permissible under the European Convention on Human Rights.

It is a fact that any intensive services likely to have a real impact on the outcomes for troubled children – mental health, residential and foster care or therapeutic interventions – are costly, and the UK is not an outlier when comparing the cost of such services with other industrialised countries.
At a time of constrained finances for everyone, we would contend that funding the construction of a new custodial facility for children would be an expensive experiment with no evidence that the outcomes will be improved – indeed all the evidence suggests that placing children in large establishments, miles away from their home community will not work.

For any queries about this response please e mail: or telephone 07957 575480.

1. ‘Achieving outcomes and value for money’ Secure Accommodation Network 2014
2. IRAP report into the implementation of MMPR. Ministry of Justice. October 2014
3. Briefing on the lawfulness of the use of force provisions in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. Children’s Rights Alliance for England. 2014

Yorkshire Association for Youth Justice seminar

Please find attached the flyer for Yorkshire Association for Youth Justice seminar on 15thDecember at Oxford Place Leeds
If you require a place please contact me as soon as possible  (link to the venue below)

It will be presented  by
Sean Creaney,
Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Sciences, University Centre, Stockport
& NAYJ Trustee

‘The benefits of participation for
young offenders’

Oxford Place
9.30 registration,
Finish at 12.30 pm.

Sean Creaney is a Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Sciences at the University Centre, Stockport College. Sean is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a PhD student at the School of Humanities and Social Science, Liverpool John Moores University. He is a Trustee of the National Association for Youth Justice and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Safer Communities peer reviewed journal.

Link to venue

Please complete the application form (click here to download) and send it to to book a place.

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