News on legislation and policy, NAYJ conferences and training events and youth justice news.
Posted by NAYJ on Apr 16, 2019
Locking up a child is one of the most profound actions a state can take; once a child has been deprived of their liberty, the state has a duty under domestic law and international conventions to ensure that they receive the most appropriate care and support. Currently, in England and Wales over 90% of children in custody are held in establishments that the Government's own inspectors find to be unsafe. It cannot be right that children, many of whom will already have experienced neglect and abuse, are kept in places where the levels of violence and self harm are high and rising, where their education is frequently disrupted and where they can be deliberately hurt as a response to challenging behaviour.
The NAYJ has long advocated that fewer children should be locked up, and that decisions to lock up a child should only be taken where there is a serious risk of harm. The small number of children who need to be detained should be accommodated in small, local establishments and cared for by suitably qualified and experienced staff. We are pleased to be part of the End Child Imprisonment coalition which on Thursday will publish a document which will show clearly why the current system is not fit for purpose. The document will outline why deprivation of liberty should be the last resort for children, why it is so harmful to their healthy development and does not serve to protect society. It will go on to describe the principles that should underpin decisions to lock up children, and those that should be in place in any establishment where children are placed.
The call to radically change the current provision is long overdue and one that the NAYJ wholeheartedly supports.
Posted by NAYJ on Feb 18, 2019
Date for your diary
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND SEMINAR
‘Youth Justice in context’
14th May 2019
Kindly hosted by
Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors
180 North Gower Street, London NW1 2NB
12 noon – 1.30 pm AGM of the National Association for Youth Justice.
2 pm – 4.30pm Annual Seminar with guest speakers.
-Nicky Hill – Interim CEO of Street Doctors and Criminal Justice & Youth Violence Reduction Consultant.
-Dr. Jenny Lloyd – Research Fellow, University of Bedfordshire.
-Dez Holmes – Director of Research in Practice.
This event is free to NAYJ members; non-members may reserve a place at the seminar at a cost of £60 to include a drinks reception following the Seminar at 5.00pm.
See http://www.thenayj.org.uk/join-us/ for membership details or contact NAYJ Secretary on email@example.com.
Bookings can be made through Eventbrite at https://bit.ly/2XUaMem
Posted by NAYJ on Mar 19, 2018
Guidance from the Home Office states that children as young as 12 are being trafficked by criminal gangs to transport and distribute illegal drugs within the UK. Targeted children commonly come from unstable backgrounds; with histories of abuse, unavoidable gang ties, and mental health presentations.
The UK has domestic and international duties to protect such children from being trafficked. These duties come from different sources, including the: UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Palermo Protocol, Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, European Convention on Human Rights, the EU Directive 2011/36, and the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
County lines cases
But the UK is still failing to effectively fulfil its duties. In 2017 alone, 65% of forces reported child exploitation in county lines drugs cases. ‘County lines’ refers to the supply of illegal drugs from urban to suburban and coastal areas using mobile phone lines.
Children are targeted by these networks because they help their operations to run more effectively and profitably: children are less likely to be known to, or even suspected by, the police; they are less demanding; and they face more lenient criminal sentences than adults.
These gangs use children to transport and distribute drugs. They lure and control children by grooming them using gifts and false impressions of guardianship and protection. Violence is also common. They then arrange their accommodation and travel to and from places.
Section 2 (1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 contains the offence of human trafficking: arranging or facilitating another person’s travel with a view to that person being exploited. Section 2 (5) states that travel includes ‘travelling within any country’. Children whose travel is being arranged or facilitated within the UK with a view to that child being exploited in county lines cases is therefore covered by the Act.
On 17 January 2018, at a Westminster Hall debate on the issue of child exploitation in county lines cases, Sarah Newton MP pledged that the UK must prioritise the welfare of children caught up in these gangs. In practice, however, children caught by the police are often charged with drugs-related offences and prosecuted. They tend to be treated as criminals, responsible for associating with gangs.
This violates the ‘non-punishment principle’, which is enshrined in, and effected by, the aforementioned laws. It demands that victims of trafficking should not be criminalised for offences committed as a direct result of their being trafficked.
Duties of the police, CPS and defence lawyers to protect child victims
To meet its legal obligations, the UK must ensure that its police forces and criminal courts are adequately trained to identify trafficking indicators and put this into practice. The UK has displayed this commitment in the context of child sexual exploitation, which it recognises as a form of abuse.
Proper training is just as crucial for preventing the criminal exploitation of children, as in these cases, indicators are also difficult to spot. Trafficked children are likely to be traumatised or too scared to reveal any abuse. Some may not even know they are being trafficked: the golden rule, said a child in a BBC documentary, is ‘loyal love’: love for the people who brought you into this game.
In general, indicators might include: missing episodes and frequent school absences, unexplained possessions or money, excessive phone communications, injuries, possession of weapons, and self-harm.
The police need to make relevant enquiries if such indicators are present, and refer potentially trafficked children to the National Referral Mechanism. The NRM was introduced in 2009 as a mechanism by which to identify potential trafficking victims. The process following a referral by the police or other first responder is two-fold: firstly, a reasonable grounds decision will be made as to whether the child is a potential trafficking victim; secondly, a conclusive decision will be made on whether it is more likely than not that the child is in fact a victim of trafficking.
This process should start before any child is charged: children should not be penalised if their involvement in drug supply networks is linked to their being trafficked for the purposes of exploitation. But often, charging decisions precede any consideration about whether the child is a victim of trafficking.
Hence why, criminal defence lawyers must take all reasonable steps to identify potential trafficking victims and be persistent and pro-active in causing enquiries to be made at the earliest stage of the case. This duty was emphasised by the Court of Appeal in R v O  EWCA Crim 2835 and L, HVN, THN and T v R  EWCA Crim 991.
If a trial proceeds despite trafficking concerns, Section 45 (4) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 provides a statutory defence if the child: commits the offence as a direct consequence of being or having been a victim of slavery or relevant exploitation, and a reasonable person in the same situation and having the person’s relevant characteristics would have committed the offence (note, Schedule 4 contains a list of excluded offences). In R v VSJ and Others (Anti-Slavery International Intervening)  EWCA Crim 36, the Court held: ‘Once it is established that a child is a victim of trafficking for the purposes of exploitation, the relevant consideration is whether there is a sufficient nexus between the trafficking for the purposes of exploitation and the offence; it is not necessary to [establish] compulsion’.
When finally at the mercy of state, children who may have been trafficked must have their rights and protections as potential victims observed. Police forces need to look out for any trafficking indicators and refer suspected child victims to the NRM. In the face of trafficking indicators, the CPS needs to make relevant enquiries to establish whether encountered children have been trafficked, instead of continuing to prosecute them. Otherwise, the current legal safeguards serve no meaningful purpose, and the child trafficking scandal will become more widespread and sophisticated.
Posted by NAYJ on Feb 19, 2018
AB, a 16-year old boy, had a traumatic childhood. It consisted of him being physically and emotionally abused. He watched his father beat his mother and take an overdose; and his uncle die from an overdose. He was diagnosed with ADHD, Conduct Disorder, and PTSD. Let down by all those around him, he was in and out of care since he was a baby.
AB eventually ended up in prison, where, despite his pre-existing mental health diagnoses and extreme vulnerabilities, he endured over 100 days in segregation. Sometimes, he was locked in his cell for over 22 hours a day.
On 04 July 2017, the High Court declared his isolation as unlawful and in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (AB v SSJ  EWHC 1694 (Admin)). This was the result of the Howard League for Penal Reform’s legal challenge to Feltham YOI’s decision to isolate AB, and relentless campaigns against the use of segregation against children in custody.
Around the same time, the Sentencing Council published its new guidance on the application of sentencing principles and specific guidelines in cases involving youth defendants being sentenced from 01 June 2017.
The guidance emphasises that the primary purpose of the youth justice system is to prevent re-offending rather than to punish children, and it reiterates that custody is a last resort measure. The guidance also codifies the courts’ scope to consider child defendants’ socio-economic and familial backgrounds as mitigating factors.
Although this is just a guidance, Section 125 (1)(a) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 states that every court must follow the relevant sentencing guidelines. When sentencing youths therefore, the court must have regard to the new guidance.
The starting point for the court when sentencing is the seriousness of the offence (Paragraph 1.2). However, the guidance requires for the sentencing process to be child-focused. In other words, regard should be had to the child’s welfare, the likely effect of the sentence on the child, and the factors that may have contributed to the child’s offending behaviour.
Such factors include the child’s mental health issues, learning difficulties, susceptibility to self-harm and/or suicidal ideations, and immaturity (Paragraph 1.5). The courts should also consider the child’s background; including any exposure to abuse or neglect, offending by other family members, drugs and alcohol, discrimination, and negative experiences of authority (Paragraph 1.13). The child’s low education attainment can also be considered, as can their parents’ poor employment records. This recognises that children living in areas of acute social and economic deprivation in dangerous or negligent conditions are more susceptible to offending.
The guidance urges courts to always try to ensure that they can identify and respond to such factors. This is because the welfare of the child is paramount in sentencing proceedings, and it is the role of the sentencing judge to impose a sentence that will help the child to not re-offend. Courts must not lose sight of this principal aim, because punishment is not the primary purpose of youth sentencing.
In fact, the guidance emphasises that it is important to avoid criminalising children (Paragraph 1.4). This is not least because a criminal record will deprive the child, who might already be disadvantaged, of the opportunity to move on from crime towards education and employment (Paragraph 1.6).
If regard is had to these factors, then custody, in most cases, simply cannot be the answer to preventing re-offending and protecting the welfare of the child. In fact, custody can have the reverse effect. It can lead to the early manifestation of mental health conditions or exacerbate pre-existing ones. It can deprive the child of its domestic and international rights to education, development and adequate healthcare. It can expose the child to further trauma, abuse, and gang culture. All of which will set the child up to fail, in a never-ending cycle of offending, being arrested, sentenced, imprisoned, and released.
As Ken Clarke, the then Justice Secretary, put it on 13 July 2010: ‘There is and never has been […] any direct correlation between spiralling growth in the prison population and a fall in crime.’
Posted by NAYJ on Jan 29, 2018
NAYJ is delighted to welcome excellent speakers to this event:
-Louise Haigh MP, Shadow Minister for Policing, will join us as one of the speakers at our annual seminar.
-Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division at the Royal Courts of Justice
-Anna Christina Jones, Greater Manchester Youth Justice University Partnership
-Joanne Cecil, Garden Court Chambers
We are grateful to Garden Court Chambers for hosting this important event. The AGM (members only) starts at 12 noon. The seminar will run from 2pm to 5pm, followed by a drinks reception. Places are free to NAYJ members and there will be places available to non-members at a cost of £40 per person.
As in previous years, we are pleased to confirm that the event will be FREE for members, with excellent speakers relevant to your field of work.
NAYJ Seminar Only Agenda 2018
Notice of Motion form
Trustee application form
Posted by NAYJ on Jul 20, 2016
The Trustee Board of the National Association for Youth Justice is delighted to announce that Ross Little, who has served as our Deputy Chair for the past year, will take over as Chair of the charity following the retirement of Pam Hibbert OBE. For more information click here.
Posted by NAYJ on Dec 1, 2014
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07957 575480.
1. ‘Achieving outcomes and value for money’ Secure Accommodation Network 2014 http://www.securechildrenshomes.org.uk/news-2/
2. IRAP report into the implementation of MMPR. Ministry of Justice. October 2014 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-restraint-advisory-panel-reports-on-mmpr
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 http://www.crae.org.uk/media/74116/Briefing-on-CRAE-Legal-Advice.pdf
Posted by NAYJ on Nov 25, 2014
Download forms below:
Email text applicants
Flyer plus programme 8th December
YOUTH JUSTICE TRAINING SEMINAR
Hosted by Liverpool John Moores University
Presents a one day training seminar.
When? 8th December 2014
The day will comprise a mixture of plenary sessions and workshops with opportunities for delegates to participate.
Participants are anticipated from agencies across the North West and neighbouring regions involved in the youth justice system and students from relevant courses at the hosting University. It will look at contemporary practice and policy issues and debates in youth justice
More details will be circulated shortly and will be available from the NAYJ website
NAYJ members £15
Non members £20
(includes lunch and refreshments)
There are a limited number of concessions for non – waged people.
Please contact email@example.com
Posted by NAYJ on Nov 21, 2014
Please find attached the flyer for Yorkshire Association for Youth Justice seminar on 15th December 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
Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Sciences, University Centre, Stockport
& NAYJ Trustee
‘The benefits of participation for
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 http://www.oxfordplace.org.uk/location.html
Please complete the application form (click here to download) and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.
Posted by NAYJ on Nov 19, 2014
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
Posted by NAYJ on Aug 5, 2014
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
Posted by NAYJ on Aug 15, 2013
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
Posted by NAYJ on Dec 6, 2012
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 and 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
Posted by NAYJ on Aug 11, 2012
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)
Posted by NAYJ on May 29, 2012
Download the Spring 2012 Newsletter HERE
Posted by NAYJ on Mar 29, 2012
The Centre for Mental Health has developed a 'point of arrest' health screening and support tool kit. It can be found on HERE
Posted by NAYJ on Nov 29, 2011
Download the Winter 2011 Newsletter HERE
Posted by NAYJ on Mar 10, 2011
Letter to the editor – Independent on Sunday.
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.
Posted by NAYJ on Mar 10, 2011
Letting down 17 year olds under PACE? NAYJ comments on a new report on appropriate adults and offers a challenging perspective on 17 year olds in police detentionYouth justice appropriate adult services must provide for 17 year olds
There has been a long standing lobby for 17 year olds to be treated the same as other children and young people for the purposes of PACE – including with regard to the provision of appropriate adults. At present, under PACE Codes of Practice, appropriate adults (AA) are provided to two groups of detainees, juveniles (aged 10-16) and ‘vulnerable adults’ (aged 17 and above). Young people aged 17 are not treated as children when detained by the police.
The law requires local authorities to provide AAs to juveniles as a ‘youth justice service’, but there is no statutory provision giving any agency or body a duty to provide AAs for vulnerable adults. Thus, those aged 17 can be doubly disadvantaged in comparison to other young people. In practice, a minority of youth justice appropriate adult (AA) services provide for 17 year olds as well as juveniles (aged 10-16). Some areas do provide AA services to both juveniles and ‘vulnerable adults’ (aged 17 and over) but in many there are separate arrangements for each group.
The NAYJ now makes a strong case that, even under the current statutory framework, youth justice service appropriate adult schemes must provide for 17 year olds as well as juveniles. In essence, this means that although 17 year olds requiring an appropriate adult might be processed as ‘vulnerable adults’ under the ‘PACE’ Codes of Practice, the actual AA service that they receive should be commissioned and provided as a youth justice service, rather than an ‘adult’ service.
A background report from NAAN
A recently published report by the National Appropriate Adult Network (NAAN) indicates a number of concerns about appropriate adult (AA) services in England and Wales. The report can be downloaded at http://www.appropriateadult.org.uk/police-survey-2010
NAAN surveyed all police force areas using a questionnaire (not all forces responded), covering AA provisions for both juveniles (10-16) and vulnerable adults.
The results exposed a lack of accurate data regarding numbers of AA requests and the proportion that involve a ‘professional’ AA as opposed to a relative or other untrained person.
The report finds some significant areas of concern, including:
• lack of AA provision ‘out of hours’
• poor identification of mental disorder and mental vulnerability in police detention, particularly for adults
• lack of clarity regarding statutory responsibility for providing AA services for adults
• lack of independence from the police in areas where the police directly commission AA services
• apparent lack of compliance with PACE Codes of Practice regarding AA presence for identification procedures and charging procedures (the Codes of Practice could be clarified regarding the latter)
• Separate procedures/services/commissioning regarding the British Transport Police
The report makes a number of recommendations which include legislating to include 17 year olds within the ‘juvenile’ definition.
The NAYJ believes that, even without new legislation, AA services for 17 year olds should be reviewed and that a shift in perception is demanded as to the local authority’s duties.
The case for youth justice appropriate adult services to provide fully for vulnerable 17 year olds
Commentators have tended to refer to the AA anomaly as 17 year olds being ‘treated as adults’. The NAYJ presents the view that, contrary to common perception, current law indicates that those aged 17 can and should be treated as young people, and differently to adults, with regard to AA services. This interpretation of the current position could improve the lot of 17 year olds pending new legislation bringing them within the juvenile provisions (legislation which may or may not actually materialise).
The reason that 17 year olds should be provided with the same AA services as ‘juveniles’ emerges from the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. That act gives local authorities a duty to provide ‘youth justice services’. Section 38 defines, and lists, those ‘youth justice services’ and includes appropriate adults services as follows:
Section 38(4) In this section and sections 39 to 41 below “youth justice services” means any of the following, namely—
(a) the provision of persons to act as appropriate adults to safeguard the interests of children and young persons detained or questioned by police officers;
The important aspect of this is that the local authority is here being required to provide appropriate adults for all children and young persons. ‘Children and young persons’ are defined in s107 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 – section 70 stating that a child is under the age of 14 and that:
“young person” means a person who has attained the age of fourteen and is under the age of eighteen years;
“youth offending team” means a team established under section 39 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
On the other hand, the PACE Act and the Codes of Practice do indeed treat 17 year olds as adults (by not including them in the definition of ‘juvenile’). The Codes go so far as to provide different definitions of ‘appropriate adult’ – one for ‘juveniles’ (10-16 years) and one for ‘vulnerable adults’ (17 years and above).
Thus, there is some anomaly and tension to resolve. The duty on local authorities to provide appropriate adults to 17 year olds (as ‘young people’) is in primary statute, whereas the provisions of the PACE Codes of Practice fall short of that status. Bearing in mind other principles and provisions of the Children Act 1989, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the legal obligations arising from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, it becomes apparent that the duty on local authorities to provide appropriate adults to vulnerable 17 year old detained young people outweighs any provision in PACE or the Codes of Practice – particularly as the latter are in tension with, or even in breach of, children’s human rights (in this sense, the NAYJ considers it to be shameful that many YOTs and even more police forces have opposed the notion of treating 17 year olds as juveniles ).
By way of comparison, a similar situation arises with regard to the duty to provide a youth justice service to ‘children and young people’ with regard to bail and remand – but, in contrast, this has never given rise to any confusion in that such services are provided for 17 year olds by the local authority (coordinated by the YOT).
With regard to AA services to juveniles, there is some confusion about the duty to provide youth justice services. Some sources, including the NAAN report, mistakenly consider the youth offending team to carry the burden of the duty. In fact, the CDA 1998 gives the duty to provide youth justice services to the local authority - with a consequential duty on the youth offending team to ‘coordinate’ those services - as must be set out in the local authority’s ‘youth justice plan’. Whilst there is, therefore, a clear statutory duty on the local authority to provide appropriate adults for children and young people, there is no such duty upon any agency with regard to AA services to vulnerable adults. It is therefore critical to the best interests of 17 year old young people that the NAYJ position is adopted.
This interpretation of the statutory framework suggests that many of the AA service models for juveniles across England and Wales are complying neither with the law nor with children’s human rights.
The principle that should apply, even without further legislation, is that:
Local authority youth justice appropriate adult services must provide for all ‘vulnerable’ 17 year olds as well as for ‘juveniles’.
Finally, the NAYJ stresses that this principle would improve compliance with the rights of 17 year olds, but would still fall short of resolving the problem of being ‘treated as an adult’. There are many other aspects of the rights and special treatment afforded to juveniles in detention that remain denied to 17 year olds. And the custody officer must make a decision about ‘vulnerability’ before requesting an AA – it is not automatic in the way that applies to juveniles. The next chapter of a case for 17 year olds would therefore turn to Healthy Children, Safer Communities with its application of ‘vulnerability’ to all those under the age of 18 in contact with the youth justice system.