Beyond Youth Custody

The costs of youth justice

20 October 2015

Last week saw the joint National Association for Youth Justice (NAYJ) and Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) conference on ‘The costs of youth justice’ in Liverpool. The conference brought together a wide range of stakeholders and practitioners who are involved in the youth justice system and explored contemporary issues in policy and practice. The day began with thought provoking plenary sessions from Rob Cordon and Anne Longfield.

Rob Cordon, children and young people’s lead for Merseyside Police, spoke about the impact of national policies on local practice, the unintentional impacts of performance management, putting evidence based research into practice and the importance of partnership working in times of austerity; resisting the temptation to draw into silos and ‘shrink away to core services’.

Anne Longfield, The Children’s Commissioner, talked about the social costs to young people, families and the wider community of not getting youth justice right. She encouraged practitioners to engage in Charlie Taylor’s review of youth justice as a chance to look afresh at what we are aiming at for young people.

NAYJ pic

There was a strong resolve among speakers and delegates that while constant reform and budget reductions are resulting in a difficult climate to deliver services, it also provides an opportunity to think differently. The importance of multi-agency working and enabling practitioners to build relationships with young people were identified as important focuses going forward.

Workshops provided delegates with the opportunity find out about innovative approaches to youth justice and emerging research and practice from the field. Topics included youth participation, problem solving youth courts, children in care and diversion.

NAYJ pic 2
Workshop leaders (left to right): Anthony Harden and Lara Hollingsworth (Safe Hands Project Workers), Fiona Factor (University of Bedfordshire), Phillip Dodd (Safe Hands Apprentice), Sarah Wilkinson (Policy Programme Officer, Nacro), Nathan Williams (Safe Hands Peer Mentor)

Beyond Youth Custody (BYC) delivered a workshop – ‘Moving on from custody: what does success look like?’ – with colleagues from the Safe Hands Project (run by Everton in the Community). Both projects are funded under the Big Lottery Fund’s Youth in Focus (YIF) programme, which aims to support vulnerable young people through changes in their lives. The workshop, delivered to a packed room of delegates, explored what ‘successful’ resettlement is, what this means for young people and how it can best be measured in terms of outcomes, looking beyond binary reoffending rates.

After introductions from BYC and Safe Hands, and hearing from Nathan and Phil about their experiences, delegates broke into groups to consider key questions. The discussions will be incorporated into BYC’s upcoming enquiry which aims to explore the different ways ‘successful’ resettlement is measured with all stakeholders and how these ‘outcomes’ shape the priorities for resettlement service providers.

Please find a preview of discussions below:

What are the difficulties in measuring success?
• It depends on how you define success – it varies for different stakeholders
• ‘Success’ is subjective – frequency, reoffending, type, risk, seriousness
• There are so many different indicators and ways of measuring success
• How to measure what it was that made a difference as it is rarely one thing – it is hard to measure the impact of different factors

What does success look like?
• Building self-esteem and inner belief/self-reflection
• Achieving goals (whatever they may be – different for each individual)
• Engagement is success – sometimes a young person just ‘showing up’ can be seen as success
• Securing suitable accommodation, better mental health, ETE

BYC will be consulting with a range of stakeholders including young people, practitioners and commissioners to build on this work.

Please get in touch if you would like to be involved in the next stage of research by emailing

To check out the work of Safe Hands and their model for working with young people, click here

Thanks to NAYJ, AYM, our lovely crew from Safe Hands and all those who participated in our workshop!

Here are the slides from the workshop

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes