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Youth justice: reflections on where we are and where we are going Tim Bateman NAYJ seminar 24 June 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Youth justice: reflections on where we are and where we are going Tim Bateman NAYJ seminar 24 June 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Youth justice: reflections on where we are and where we are going Tim Bateman NAYJ seminar 24 June 2014

2 Going backwards before going forwards Comparison of the past with the present can help to illuminate the direction of travel Provides a potentially future orientated perspective Why 1998? - The Crime and Disorder Act – the ‘biggest reform of youth justice for 50 years’ (Jack Straw, 1997) - A ‘new youth justice’ (Goldson, 2000) – introduction of YOTs and YJB - A more personal reason

3 Youth crime is not what it was [1] Detected youth offending – indictable offences: 1992 to 2013

4 Youth crime is not what it was [2] A political cooling since 1998 Very limited discussion of youth crime in the 2010 manifestos Labour – expand leisure facilities for children in high crime areas; promote neighbourhood policing Tories – a single reference to youth crime to confirm that payment by results would be extended to youth justice Why 1988? - The Crime and Disorder Act – the ‘biggest reform of youth justice for 50 years’ (Jack Straw, 1997) - A ‘new youth justice’ (Goldson, 2000) – introduction of YOTs and YJB - A more personal reason

5 A plan and a crisis The political cooling and the reduction in youth crime can both be traced to the publication of New Labour’s Youth Crime Action in 2008 The plan coincided with the onset of financial crisis A highly politicised youth justice was incompatible with making savings required by the new fiscal concerns From an expanding service to a contracting one

6 The impact of a target: first time entrants to the youth justice system

7 An oversimplification but … Reduction in youth crime = - Financial constraint > depoliticisation > - FTE target > rediscovery of diversion Triage, liaison and diversion, youth restorative disposals / community resolutions and the rehabilitation of no further action Abolition of final warnings and reintroduction of cautioning

8 Children deprived of their liberty: custodial sentences 1992-2013 1998 - 7,217 custodial sentences; 2013 – 2,340. A decline of 68%

9 Post election? Two dynamics in tension A political perception of a continued need for austerity – associated with falling youth crime, FTEs and custody A perceived political need not to be seen soft on youth crime – associating with netwidening and increased incarceration

10 Two out of three ain’t bad Should we be concerned? YearProportion reoffending YearProportion reoffending 200033.7%200733.6% 200233.4%200832.4% 200334.3%200932.8% 200433.6%201033.3% 200533.6%201135.8% 200633.6%201235.5%

11 The irrelevance of the reoffending target In tension with other targets Yes / no indicator of reoffending within 12 months is a very blunt measure of progress Most young people stop Promoting maturation Reoffending target is at best beside the point and at worst can exacerbate problems

12 The resurgence of professional discretion The ‘zombification of youth justice’ (Pitts, 2001) associated with 1998 has given way to a rediscovery of professional autonomy ‘We will signal a clean break with the controlling, centralising tendencies of the past by making a clear commitment to decentralisation. We will provide frontline professionals with greater freedoms in how they manage offenders… ‘...There will be fewer targets for providers and less prescription in the way that different agencies work together.’ (Ministry of Justice, 2010) Less prescriptive national standards – reduced levels of breach

13 What are they like? ‘My life before I came in was a bit complicated cos my mum’s still in jail, my sister wasn't really on a talking basis with me and my little brother had just got taken into care, so life was a bit hectic [then] I went jail. And so what, you were kind of looking after yourself were you? Yeah. Pretty much. So you didn't have aunts or uncles or any other family around? We did, well I did have people there, like a handful of them, like older cousins, like I stayed with my older cousin but she was at work and when she wasn't at work, she was out and about so... I kinda just looked after myself pretty much’ (Donna) ‘I started drinking quite a lot and getting in more trouble and then arguing with my mum a lot more and then getting in more trouble, so argue with her and walked out the house where are you on a scale of 1 to 10, 1’s little, 1’s you have a shandy once a month...? About 9. What do you drink? Cider’ (Amy) ‘When I was... like last year, like I started... going through like hearing voices and that, cos things got really low for me and then one thing just led to another... like they put me on medication but they started me off on quite a little bit of a dose, yeah and then from there it didn't work for me so then it, like the voices and everything got worse for me and then when I went to the prison and...then from there they increased my dose and all that but it didn't work and then I literally was going crazy, so then they sectioned me. …’ (Felicity)

14 A prerequisite of effective practice If young people are to comply with youth justice intervention, and its aims, they must regard the intervention as ‘legitimate’ (Tyler, 1990) ‘ … for both moral reasons, and practical purposes, it transpires that the system must also be about remedying injustice and doing right by those whom society has so often failed’ (McNeill, 2009)

15 Perceptions of youth justice professionals A consistent theme in interviews was that girls made a clear distinction between 2 types of staff – within custody, children’s services and youth offending teams: - ‘Some are alright and some are just ahhh... sometimes I think they’re just here to get paid and do their job. They’re not here to help. … I don’t like them very much… At least if I was a prison officer I would come to work to do my job – and obviously that’s what you come to work for, to get paid, but I would come to do my job as well. But these … these just come to get paid. They don’t care’ (Ella) - ‘I do believe that, out there, there are people that care and who do want to help and support but it’s only the majority of them that are the bad ones and a minority are the good ones but it’s very hard to find them’ (Paula) - ‘Yeah, certain people go there to actually work, to help people but certain people just see it “it’s a job, let me just get paid”, do you know what I’m saying...?’ (Jo)

16 Agency and fatalism Girls tended to display two different attitudes towards persistence or desistance: A sense of optimism associated with a conviction that it was within their power to make their future; or alternatively ‘... now I realise that just because everyone does that I don’t need to be involved in it’ (Gemma) ‘Nothing’s really that hard, you can do it’ (Sasha) A sense of fatalism – frequently associated with a resignation that they will reoffend ‘I’m hoping I’m not but I had an assessment done … and he’s basically said that I’m high risk for reoffending’ (Felicity) ‘Nothing works, nothing works... I’m a bit nervous. I’m not sure if I’m strong enough...’(Kylie)

17 What does caring mean? Demonstrating an interest – shown in practicalities Being on their side Showing young people that you believe in them – that they have the capacity to change Fostering a sense of agency

18 An (over) optimistic conclusion? Continued reductions in first time entrants, custody and detected youth crime Increased discretion used to demonstrate caring Promoting agency Perhaps – reductions in reoffending

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