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Problem Solving Courts

Exploring procedural justice and problem-solving
practice in the Youth Court

Gillian Hunter and Jessica Jacobson
HM Inspectorate of Probation Academic Insights 2021/05

May 2021

In this recent report from HM Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) links between procedural justice and problem-solving are explored. The report draws on findings from recent research, with a focus on the role of youth offending services in supporting and promoting these approaches in the youth court. As set out, youth offending services have a crucial role to play in:

(i) supporting children’s understanding and engagement; (ii) providing personalised, holistic and analytical information to the courts about children’s needs and circumstances; and (iii) supporting any post-sentence judicial monitoring and reviews.

The report concludes that moving forward, the local experiences of developing procedural justice and problem-solving practices need to be harnessed and shared, with an ongoing commitment to further research and evaluation so that the evidence base continues to grow.

The report refers specifically to the work of the Michael Sieff Foundation. It states:

‘Three high-level expert reviews on the youth justice system – the Carlile Inquiry in 2014, the Taylor Review in 2016, and the Lammy Review in 2017 – have backed elements of problem-solving, including by promoting the courts’ role in actively monitoring the progress of court-involved children after sentence. The Michael Sieff Foundation has sought to maintain momentum following these various recommendations, through setting up a working group and organising seminars and a conference about problem-solving in the youth court, and the Foundation continues to monitor progress in implementing changes in the youth justice system to support problem-solving practice.’

Download the full report: Exploring procedural justice and problem-solving practice in the Youth Court

See also a commentary on the Report from Russell Webster at: https://www.workwithoffenders.co.uk/news/news_article/107320. Russell Webster does regular excellent summaries of criminal justice reports, his Monday diary gives reports on events of the week, well worth following: https://www.russellwebster.com/

Last updated: 14 June 2021

Youth Court Solutions
A Problem Solving Culture

March 2021

In 2015, the Northamptonshire Magistracy started looking at ways to better support the children and young people who appeared before their youth courts.

We are now launching our third iteration of problem solving thinking: Youth Court Solutions. Built around the ACE1 model (Adverse Childhood Experiences), knowing any brush with the criminal justice system constitutes an ACE and knowing that approximately 70% of child victims go on to become offenders, Youth Court Solutions is designed to tackle these problems as early as possible, whenever a child or young person comes into contact with a courthouse.

Due to go live in early 2021, Youth Court Solutions, the at-court advice and support service will work broadly to provide a supportive and stable environment for the child or young person and, as a consequence, an enhanced prospect for the child or young person of living a life free from the impact of crime, whether as a witness, victim or perpetrator thereby also creating long-term savings for the whole justice system.

Dominic SR Goble, JP DL introduced this important initiative with a presentation entitled: Acting on Youth Justice Solutions – A Problem Solving Culture

Download the slides from the launch event held in February 2021 presented by Jane Deamer (The Crysalys Foundation) and Claire Ely (Centre for Justice Innovation)

Youth Court Solutions was endorsed by The Michael Sieff Foundation

John Tenconi, Chair of the Trustees of the Michael Sieff Foundation, comments:

Thank you to Dominic and Paul for inviting the Michael Sieff Foundation to endorse this great new initiative “Youth Court Solutions”. By way of introduction to those attending, who do not know the work of the Michael Sieff Foundation, we were founded in 1987 by Lady Elizabeth Haslam, in memory of her first husband, Michael Sieff.

Elizabeth realised through a deep interest in the case of Jasmine Beckford, a child who died in 1985 in Brent, that apart from societal deprivation of varying sorts, children can be let down by support services, which work in isolated silos and do not communicate effectively with each other. The Foundation is dedicated to improving policy and practice for the well-being of children and young people. For more than 20 years, the Foundation achieved these objectives by organising conferences bringing together people with wide ranging responsibilities for vulnerable children and young people, resulting in action being taken in practical ways.

Since research shows the best outcomes for children depend on multi-disciplinary work, the Foundation encourages multi-agency collaboration.
Our website provides a resource for the holding of material presented at our conferences and seminars, with links to other like-minded organisations.
In 2012 it had become clear that the model had become less relevant in delivering our aims as the ravages of the 2008 financial crisis took effect and government and local authority budgets were cut ever more deeply.

As a result, the Trustees refocused the Foundation onto specific projects of topical concern and where analysis showed that we could make a difference and bring about change by working with our partners to highlight issues, develop solutions and then follow up with decision makers to bring about change.
The Michael Sieff Foundation strives to remind those in authority about their obligations to vulnerable children. It uses its influence to work with like-minded organisations to bring about positive change in society’s treatment of vulnerable children and hopefully help them to achieve their potential.

By our 30th anniversary the Foundation had made a significant contribution to policy and practice in the sphere of child protection, the social re-integration of children, who offend, combating cross border paedophile activity, improving the conditions for children giving evidence in court, work with early years’ children and the welfare of children in primary schools and was coordinating a review into the adequacy of EHCPs for those with severe educational needs.

In 2014 we co-sponsored with the NCB an inquiry by Parliamentarians, chaired by Lord Carlile into the Youth Justice System. One of the members amongst an informed and committed membership was Robert Buckland, now Justice Secretary.

That report found clearly amongst many other things that most child offenders are pushed or led into crime by their circumstances. Typically, vulnerability of one sort or another caused by abuse and/or deprivation often hand in hand is the cause.

We, together with many like- minded organisations, have worked tirelessly since then to try to persuade HMG to not only recognise this but do something about it. A principal route to achieving this is to look at the problem- solving court model and the provision of proper welfare investigation alongside the criminal proceedings.

Some progress has been made but a brand-new model requires legislative change. Unfortunately, the perception that this sort of innovation would be “soft” on crime does not play well with voters and HMG has been reluctant to introduce new and enlightened policy.

Northamptonshire, we hope at least partly inspired by a seminar the Foundation held on “problem solving”, however, has doggedly refused to allow this recidivism to defeat its desire for enlightened and innovative youth court processes with academically reviewed beneficial outcomes.

We at the Michael Sieff Foundation, warmly welcome the launch of “Youth Court Solutions” as a further step in that process. It is important economically and socially important that children have every advantage and opportunity possible in order to contribute meaningfully to the country’s ongoing prosperity. In addition, it is our natural duty as parents and members of society to do our best to help children maximise their potential and bestow on them the advantages, which many of us have enjoyed during our young years so that they may fully enjoy happy and rich childhoods and grow into well balanced adults, who can take their place in society with maximum effect.

If you want to know more please contact the Secretary at: richard@michaelsieff-foundation.org.uk

March 2021