International Centre News 1st February 2021

Wishing a Happy New Year to all our members and supporters. This edition of the TCJ brings you papers from a two day youth justice online event entitled ‘Care of young offenders: progress or decline?’

This was a unique two day seminar in partnership with the Dartington Centre for Social Policy and The Mulberry Bush, bringing together practitioners from across the last six decades, to reflect on the current state of youth justice services in the UK and to explore the lessons learnt from the past. The seminar had three aims:

  • To review where we are in terms of youth justice and providing services, especially in the secure estate
  • Where we would like to get to in the short and long term and how we might do this
  • Where we do not want to get to and how to avoid this happening.

Day 1: Focused on the history of Approved Schools and Community Homes with Education for both girls and boys, and the young person’s journey, with talks by Jim Hyland, Jessamy Carlson, Darren Coyne and David Lane. Day 2: focused on policy and practice since 1980, with presentations from John Drew, Sonia Brooks and Giles McCathie HMP Werrington YOI, Darren Coyne and Kajetan Kasinski. The discussion groups raised important questions and issues in relation to youth justice including:

  • Have we really created an effective replacement service that serves young people and society well, or are we still struggling to find the answers ?
  • Do we need a better understanding of trauma and treatment in the secure estate, improved professional training, better funding and an ongoing debate about which bodies should run custodial institutions ?
  • The purpose of custody for children, and especially girls, in a fragmented system that confounds the fundamental principles of social care

As well as the above, it was identified that contemporary concerns now also include:

  • The abuse of children in custody
  • The growth of racial disparity amongst children in custody
  • Deteriorating conditions in child custody, including at all times pervasive undercurrents of violence in YOI’s and STCs, and
  • The very fractured and varied system of custody we have

You can read the ‘Care of Offenders: Progress or Decline?’ report in full here

We finish the edition with a short paper  ‘The Case of Standon Farm Approved School, 1947‘ by Nicky Hilton archivist at the Planned Environment Therapy Archive at MB3. This paper tells the tragic story of the shooting of a teacher at Standon House Approved School in 1947. This is a fuller account of the same incident mentioned by Jim Hyland in his paper above. It continues to remind us of how serious ‘acting out’ can occur when institutions are disconnected from wider systems, poorly staffed, and run by ‘us and them’ authoritarian regimes.

We hope that this important report will lead to further dialogue about the need for new ideas, innovation and reform and the role of youth justice in the UK today.

Future events in 2021:

The Therapeutic Care Journal as the voice of the International Centre for Therapeutic Care, is 5 years old this year. It was previously known as ‘the Children Webmag’. We will be sending out a short questionnaire over the next month to ask you views on the development of the International Centre and the TCJ.

Finally, we will keep you informed of our International Centre/ TCJ global online event on May 7th, which will focus on experiences of working through the Covid pandemic and its impact on your services. We will be contacting colleagues in our global networks to present at this event.

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