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Racism in Football

Dec 11, 2018

As a parent of two football-obsessed teenage sons (my eldest son is a regular at the Emirates for every Arsenal home game), and working around the issue of equality in our inherently unfair justice system, the issue of racism in football is an interesting subject.

For my generation going to football matches in the 70’s/80’s was too dangerous an activity due to the hostility shown to BAME people on the terraces. Undoubtedly there has been some progress but the problem is still there as recent events have demonstrated. But it isn’t just about a few ignorant supporters.

Over the past 6 years I have seen the Academy system from the inside, supporting my youngest son who plays for a premier league club at U14 level. It’s always been a disappointment standing on the side lines at matches and noting the dearth of BAME coaches in the system. Our football institutions have been slow to change, they need to walk the talk!

Football has had an impassioned debate around racism over the past years, way ahead of wider society, culminating, I think, in the deep levels of respect and, dare I say, shame following the death of the great Cyril Regis. The sport, or should I say business, has an opportunity to be a beacon in our society and it needs to take this opportunity with actions not just words, as Stan Collymore rightly highlights.

Finally Raheem Sterling is emerging as a great role model for young black men. He’s made mistakes but learnt from them and become a better player ,and probably person, for it.

Articulating so vividly the hypocrisy of the media in his Instagram post was a touch of maturity that showed he is a class above the highly paid columnists who make their living out of lazy opinion pieces criticising him.

He is exactly the sort of role model my two sons and many black boys like them need in what are very stressful times.

The Young Review relaunches as Equal

Nov 27, 2018

The report of the Young Review on improving outcomes for black and Muslim young men was launched in December 2014. It led to the establishment of the Young Review Independent Advisory Group which was chaired for the last four years by Baroness Lola Young. Earlier this year Baroness Young decided to step down as Chair. Her contribution has been immense and critical to the success of the Independent Advisory Group.

With the appointment of our new Chair, Iqbal Wahhab OBE, in May the Advisory Group took the decision to change its name, rebrand and review its strategy.

On 4th December the Young Review Independent Advisory Group will formally relaunch as Equal.

The new name highlights our aim for a justice system that treats all people equally, regardless of faith or ethnicity, whilst recognising the debilitating impact of inequalities across the Criminal Justice System and striving to tackle them.

Our strategy has been reviewed with a renewed remit focussing on people from BAME and Muslim communities within the justice system. Our policy priority areas for the year ahead are:

  • Prisons & Youth Justice
  • Probation
  • Gangs Matrix
  • Public Sector Equality Duty
  • Justice Devolution

These policy areas will be the focus of our work for the year ahead.

We have also made changes to the structure of the Secretariat for the Group, provided by BTEG, with the recruitment of a communications officer reflecting the new strategy’s focus of greater emphasis around our communications.

One of the big achievements of the Young Review Independent Advisory Group has been the relationship that has been built with MOJ/HMPPS particularly around the implementation of the Lammy Review. Here the Advisory Group is viewed as a key partner and scrutineer of the delivery of the recommendations outlined in David Lammy’s report.

However, our new Chair and advisory group members, whilst valuing the importance of working closely with government, want to see Equal challenge policy that perpetuates ethnic disparities. So the policy priorities identify themes such as working with government on the use of the Public Sector Equality Duty in our criminal justice system institutions.

We have also been actively arguing for reform of the Gang’s Matrix through the Mayor of London’s review of the Matrix. The recent report from the Information Commissioner should act as a wake up call for all of our CJS institutions to the dangers of systemically perpetuating the criminalisation of minority groups.

We will progress this agenda of working productively with the MOJ/HMPPS in implementing the Lammy agenda but challenge injustice and building partnerships across civil society and academia to further our aims. 

If you would like to attend the Equal launch event please book here

How do we become responsive to the needs of BAME young people within the Criminal Justice System?

Nov 19, 2018

A local perspective from the North of England by

 Henry Ngawoofah
 Director of Grace Incorporation Faith Trust (GIFT)
 Director of Making Education a Priority CIC (MEaP)

 

On 14th November 2018, I attended a seminar hosted by the Academy for Social Justice Commissioning at Leeds Beckett University. The key note speaker was Jeremy Crook, CEO of the Black Training and Enterprise Group. He is also currently on secondment at the Ministry of Justice.

Jeremy began the presentation with statistics around the reoffending rates of black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) young people which, as of 2016, was 50.6%.  While the number of children and young people in custody from a BAME background has been decreasing, the proportion has been increasing, accounting for 45% of the custodial population in the latest year, whilst only making up 18% of the 10-17 years’ general population.

These statistics, whilst startling, had me asking after the seminar: ‘What more can be done as black men/role models to influence change within the Criminal Justice System for BAME young people?’, ‘Why, despite the falling number of young people entering the CJS, there is still a higher proportion of BAME young people in custody in our prisons?’.

These questions also took me back to my journey, which began 20 years ago when I studied as a law student to qualify as criminal solicitor. However, part-way through my studies, and during my work experience working with young offenders, I realised that by the time I qualified as a solicitor, and provided the support required by young people through the CJS, it was too late in most cases to help them turn their lives around. I also noted the strong correlation between the number of young people I was supporting who had been permanently excluded from school appearing before the courts.

My journey working with young people took a new direction. This is where GIFT was born, a local social enterprise/charity to provide early intervention in community education, mentoring and mediation support to young people and families. Like many BAME-led organisations through recent times, we are faced with the challenges of remaining sustainable and being able to scale up our services to meet the needs of our young people within the CJS.

Some of the ways we have tried to address these issues is to become more focused with collaborative ways of working with local and national partners such as BTEG, and Making Education a Priority (MEaP), a consortium of supplementary schools and community education providers.

At the seminar it became clear from the discussions that there is a need for more collaborative work and cross-sector partnerships within early years’ provisions, schools, health sector and housing, to identify the needs and to capture ‘at risk’ young people to co-ordinate interventions before young people enter the CJS.

In Manchester the MEaP consortium is looking to address this by becoming the first African and Caribbean-led mainstream free school in Greater Manchester, providing culturally specific education and holistic support to all children. Although we recognise that to bring this vision to reality is a long-term aspiration, there are other opportunities available to us. Specifically, for black men/role models to effect change now to help prevent and address the over-representation of BAME young people entering the CJS.

I was recently asked by a parent to provide advocacy support at an appeal hearing for their child following a school exclusion. The decision of the school was upheld, following both the appeal meeting at the school and an ‘independent review’ leading to another young BAME person being permanently excluded. During this process I recognised that all decisions and procedures were being made/upheld by ‘all white’ senior leaders, governors and panel members. Did this collective ‘unconscious bias’ fail to take into account the culturally specific needs of the young person and family? Could more have been done to address the underlying issues impacting the child’s settlement and development within the school?

This also brought back memories of my experience 20 years ago supporting young people within the Youth Court systems and the sentencing towards BAME young people, such as disproportionate custodial sentences. As asked earlier, what are the lessons learned and what are the opportunities for black role models to influence change within the CJS? I believe early intervention and preventative measures are key.  I also believe that more can be done for we black men/role models to get involved with civic positions:

  • We can apply to become school governors to help influence decisions and policies around school exclusions.
  • We can apply to become a magistrate to help influence decisions around sentencing in youth courts to focus more on rehabilitating for young people within their communities.
  • We need more opportunities to enter local politics and secondments opportunities, similar to Jeremy Crook’s, within the public sector.

To lead by example I recently joined a local governing board of a school by applying through the Governors for Schools website. I am now exploring how to become a magistrate. In Manchester we will be holding our first community consultation in November 2018 about our plans for the Free School Nursery and Primary Academy as we prepare our plans for the Department for Education.

Let us continue to be creative and strategically focused, as we cannot afford to let another generation to be failed by our schools and the Criminal Justice Systems.

 

Stop and search - 'Who feels it - Knows it'

Nov 08, 2018

The Home Secretary’s speech to the National Police Chief’s Council adds to the bitterly disappointing punitive narrative around the rise in violent crime. The challenge of serious youth violence requires politicians to seriously contemplate the effectiveness of current failed approaches and to have the courage to challenge the conventional wisdoms of perpetual punishment that our failing criminal justice system is built upon.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/home-secretary-sajid-javid-stop-and-search-works-a3976651.html

Bob Marley was the master of lyrical poignancy that would stay lodged in the memory for generations. One of his classic one-liners was “who feels it knows it”.

The issue of stop and search and particularly the dichotomy between the conventional wisdoms that dominate our national discourse around crime and punishment and lead us to the` natural’ assumption that more stop and search’s of target groups (e.g. young black boys) will reduce serious violence epitomises the marked point Marley makes. Of course there is an opposing view to this narrative which unfortunately gets very little air time in the conventional spaces within the mainstream media where these debates play out.

 This of course is largely due to the demographic of those groups and communities on the receiving end of stop and search as a Police power and the huge inequalities and power in-balances in our society this exposes. I will attempt to articulate a counter narrative on this issue which is that stop and search is ineffective and is contributing to the deterioration in police and community relationships that can protect our society and the most vulnerable groups, particularly children from serious youth violence.

My specific concern is around the experiences of children and particularly black and minority ethnic children in relation to their encounters of policing. Last year BTEG with the Children Rights Alliance England wrote to Sir Tom Winsor the HM Chief Inspector of Constabularies requesting he launch a review into the treatment and experience of black and minority children in the area of policing.

Some of the statistics we forwarded to Sir Tom with regards to the Met Police are highlighted below:

  • Stop and search – although use has fallen overall, the tactic is used disproportionately on BAME children in London with over half (54%) of all stop and searches on children in 2016 being of BAME children (with the disparity starkest in relation to Black boys and young men who accounted for 37% of all stops and searches)
  • In 2016 at least 540 children in London were subjected to `more thorough’ or `strip searches’ with BAME children accounting for 71% of these intrusive searches
  • In 2016, 8275 children were detained overnight in MPS custody. Nearly two thirds of these children were from BAME backgrounds (with Black children accounting for 41% of all children detained overnight).
  • In 2008 after Tasers were introduced, MPS officers used them on children 9 times. Yet in the first 9 months of 2016 alone Tasers were used 118 times (including being fired 5 times.) Nearly 70% of these uses in 2016 were on BAME children
  • From December 2016 to July 2017, the MPS conducted an initial pilot of the use of spit hoods in five custody suites. Since then trial of the devices was rolled out to all custody suites in London. By the end of September 2017 there had been at least 7 uses of spit hoods on children (the youngest child being 15 years old.) Of these, four uses were on BAME children.

 

The concept of` trust and confidence’ is a phrase that has become part of the language of our policing and public authority bureaucracies. However, it very rarely engages with the underlying causes to low levels of trust amongst black and ethnic minority communities, particularly young people.

But of course statistics only show part of the problem. They don’t un-wrap the very human experiences of the children affected by early negative contact with the police. A recent report from Stopwatch (a coalition of academics and community organisations campaigning for the reform of stop and search powers) on the Met Police’s gangs matrix delves deep in to the traumatising  experiences of children and young people routinely subjected from a young age to this model of policing.

http://www.stop-watch.org/events/details/report-launch-being-matrixed-the-overpolicing-of-gang-suspects-in-london

David Lammy MP in a recent newspaper article gave us a small glimpse of this world sharing his experiences of being stopped and searched in Tottenham as a child. As a parent I know it is a harrowing ordeal for a young child.

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/oct/13/stop-and-search-is-unjust-unfair-ineffectual-david-lammy

Anyone involved in the current policy dialogues around youth violence (as I am) will be familiar with the term `adverse childhood experiences’. ACE’s (as our public authority officials have shortened them to), are the pointers in a young person’s life that may lead them to be more susceptible to entry into the youth justice system or engaging in serious youth violence (e.g. exclusion from school, parental breakup etc.).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverse_Childhood_Experiences_Study

I would suggest the points I raise in this article accounting for the experiences of too many black and minority ethnic children with regards to policing certainly need to be added to the ACE’s chronology.  This may be something the NPCC may wish to contemplate as they take on new shared statutory responsibilities for local safeguarding responsibilities from next year.

So back to Bab Marley’s lyrics - I would suggest that if the model for policing that is being applied to black and minority ethnic children in areas such as London were applied across the country, the response of our politicians would be very different. Falling into the failed comfort zone of more and more punitive measures may play to the majority audience but it will not address serious youth violence and down plays the serious risks and long term damage to community cohesion.

 

Mark Blake BTEG

Lammy Review MOJ update – the view of the Chair of Equal

Oct 15, 2018

 

NB Equal is the new name for the Young Review

The Ministry of Justice recently launched Tackling Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice system: 2018 Update. The report highlights progress in the Department’s implementation of the Lammy Review over the past year.

Going through the report there is a lot of activity with a clear implementation structure now in place.  I would like to highlight areas that are of particular interest to Equal:

  • Youth Justice – According to the Youth Justice Board Annual Report, the figure for BAME children and young people held in custody is now 45%. One of Lammy’s biggest concerns was that the higher rates of ethnic disproportionality in the youth justice system would be transferred into the adult custodial population.  We welcome the joint work carried out by the MOJ’s Youth Justice Policy Unit and the Youth Justice Board. The former Youth Justice Minister Dr Philip Lee made a commitment to developing a BAME Youth Strategy. Equal would welcome the Department taking this forward.

The Secure Schools programme  is likely to be the most significant new development around youth custody in recent years and that it is not mentioned in the report is worrying. We must ensure Secure Schools have a strong focus on addressing ethnic disparities and improving outcomes for BAME children/young people. To miss this opportunity would not be in the spirit in which the Lammy Review was created.

  • Data - We note the progress made in the area of data collection in implementing the Lammy recommendations. We acknowledge the development of the scorecard for Lammy implementation and would welcome the opportunity to comment on it as it will be a key reference point in the delivery of the implementation process.

  • Gypsy, Roma and Traveller/ Muslim communities - The establishment of a GRT Action Plan developed in collaboration with GRT voluntary groups is to be commended. We would recommend that HMPPS develops a similar response to issues facing Muslim communities in prison and through rehabilitation services. As touched on in the Lammy Review and highlighted in more detail in the Young Review report, the experience of Muslim offenders is too often viewed through the lens of security and radicalisation although less than 1% of Muslims in prison are being held on terror-related offences.  A focus on improving their experience in prison and outcomes would be a positive development.
  • Prevention - The report details work with Police and Crime Commissioners on the prevention agenda. Equal is working with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and would be keen to support this work as part of our developing partnership.

  • Metropolitan Police Service Gangs Matrix - We look forward to the release of the Mayor of London’s review of the Gang’s Matrix. BTEG has been a member of the Community reference group established by the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime to inform this review. Recent research reports from Amnesty International and Stopwatch raise serious questions around the Matrix in relation to its legality, governance, effectiveness and its propensity to perpetuate ethnic disparities. We share these concerns.

  • Trust in the system - The work the MOJ has initiated/supported in North London with Spark2life and Emery Hall Brown solicitors in engaging with and educating young people around the issues of trust in the criminal justice system is positive.  We note the planned ministerial roundtable event on this theme.  Clearly the voice and experience of BAME children is critical. BTEG has previously worked with the Children Rights Alliance around the issues of policing and BAME children and would be happy to input into this process.

  • Prisons - Members of the Advisory group have participated in the HMPPS’ External Advice and Scrutiny Panel (EASP.) This has been a productive development. Processes have been established to implement Lammy’s recommendations in the areas of complaints, the incentives and earned privileges scheme and use of force. It is, however, crucial that we have a clear framework for monitoring their delivery, measuring their impact and some expectation as to when we can see tangible improvements in outcomes for BAME offenders across these indicators.

  • Rehabilitation - Equal, in partnership with the MOJ as part of its Probation Consultation, recently held a joint a joint consultative event and made a written submission  to the consultation. The submission made a number of recommendations that we believe, if adopted, would strengthen the likelihood of the upcoming procurement process for the community rehabilitation contracts to deliver improved outcomes for BAME offenders.

Clearly a lot of progress has been made over the past year and Equal welcomes the commitment of Ministers and the groundwork that officials have established in recent months. My personal commitment as the Chair of Equal is to see tangible improvements in the outcomes and experiences of BAME offenders and communities within the justice system. This is clearly where the focus has to be over the coming two to three years.

One thing I felt was missing from the report was a recognition that the Department could be giving a greater focus on its statutory duties under the Equality Act and the Public Sector Equality Duty, which we firmly believe is a powerful tool to drive reductions in disproportionality and this is precisely what this legislation was designed to ensure.   One of the ways in which this could be beneficial to the process is the use of Equality Impact Assessments and, crucially, giving them greater credence in the policy/procurement development process, and utilising civil society formally in their production.

Within the current politically turbulent environment, making progress on improving outcomes for BAME groups in the CJS will continue to be challenging but I am hopeful and determined that we will make a difference over the coming years.

Iqbal Wahhab OBE
Chair, Equal

The future of probation services - EQUAL’s response

Oct 03, 2018

In 2014/15 the MoJ introduced major changes to the probation services through the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. This initiative outsourced the management of low to medium risk offenders to Company Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s) and implemented one national body (the National Probation Service) to manage high risk offenders.

The new structures experienced major problems from their inception. Many of these were outlined in a recent report by the Justice Select Committee. As a result, the MoJ took the decision to re-tender the contracts with CRC’s (two years before the end of the contract term) and to carry out public consultations to inform the redesign of probation services.

As part of this consultation process, the National Independent Advisory Group held a consultation event focused on how to improve outcomes for BAME offenders and address ethnic disproportionality throughout probation services. The event was attended by 17 people from community organisations that work with BAME communities within the prison/probation system, academics and members of the Advisory Group.

The consultation informed a written submission to the MOJ which featured eight recommendations:

  1. The next commissioning round for CRC contracts should include a specific race equality weighting to reflect the ethnic disproportionality in the caseload and in recognition of the Lammy agenda. This should be at least 10-15%

  2. The contract specifications should include requirements for CRC’s to produce ethnic performance data and to meet the requirements set out in the Lammy Review. This should be of both BAME users and BAME intervention programs.

  3. MOJ should develop specific requirements in the contract that meet their stated objectives of enabling smaller, community and BAME led providers to engage in supply chains on terms that meet their needs

  4. The public sector equality duty (PSED) and its obligations should be given a greater emphasis throughout the contract

  5. The contracts should include a commitment on the part of the supplier to deliver culturally competent service models. MOJ should commission the development of a model of cultural competence for probation providers

  6. The needs of specific ethnic groups such as Gypsy, Traveller and Roma, Somali community etc. must be recognized through the commissioning process

  7. “Through the gate” services need to recognize the huge support of mentoring and this must be reflected in resources for paid mentors.

  8. Prospective providers should be required to outline their plans for community engagement and representation, particularly for through the gate services and how they will ensure these plans are representative of their caseloads

The recommendations we have made, informed by the experience of the participants at our consultation event will, if taken on board, help to ensure the next commissioning round can engage BAME/faith/community providers to participate in the delivery of services and hopefully develop an operating environment that can contribute to some improvement in outcomes for BAME offenders over the duration of the new contracts.

Following the huge shift set in place by the Lammy Review and its implementation framework, it is imperative that MOJ and HMPPS can demonstrate that through procurement and policy development processes they can place addressing ethnic disproportionality and improving race equality outcomes at the heart of how they do business. 

Useful links

The Guardian: Privatisation of probation service has left public at greater risk

Strengthening probation, building confidence: Consultation feedback

HMI ProbationLondon Community Rehabilitation Company - notable improvement from a very low base but much still to do

NIAG: Submission to MOJ consultation

 

From A* - 9? What does this all mean?

Aug 20, 2018
The new GCSE grading system.

As parents, practitioners and students, we seem to be constantly having to get our head around the forever changing education system. The new grading system which saw the traditional A-G grade abolished and the introduction of 9 -1(with 9 been the highest) was introduced in 2017 for Maths and English and rolled out to other subject this year leaving many parents and young people confused!

So what does this mean?

According to the Department for Education (DfE) the new way of teaching and grading GCSEs is ‘more challenging’ and as quoted from the Independent newspaper article August 2017 “The government says it wants to match school standard to those of the strongest performing education systems in the world – such as Hong Kong and Shanghai.”

In essence the new grading system is supposed to allow higher education institutions and employers to really distinguish between the higher performing students and the lower achievers. Grade 9 is not the same as the old A* grade, it’s a new grade designed to recognise the very best performance. OfQual which regulates public examinations in England, have said that in every subject there will be fewer grade 9s awarded than A*s in the old GCSEs. The infographic below shows that there is no direct read across from the old to the new grades

The banding system is still not clear and nor are the implications for future entry in to higher and further education. Students as well as parents will be left making assumptions.

Having spoken to several secondary school teachers, it is clear that they too are still unclear about the new system, as they now have to use different marking bands to grade students. If the teachers have to get their head around it, imagine how the students feel?

Reassurance has been given by Ofqual to have continuity in the proportion of grades awarded stating that the exam boards would use statistics to counteract any dip in results caused by teachers being less familiar with the content and pupils having less support material. According to Ofqual, the new grade 7 will start at the same standard as the former A grade, meaning 9, 8 and 7 grades replace the old A* and A. The 9 is equivalent to the top half of A* awards, while an 8 encompasses the bottom portion of A* and the top part of an A, making comparisons with the old grades difficult.

The new GCSE grading system saw the decrease of those receiving the top grades in 2017. The Times Education Supplement (TES) reported in August 2017 “Results released this morning by exam boards show that the proportion of UK entries getting A*-C or 9-4 has also fallen from 66.9 to 66.3 per cent.” Let’s hope that there is an improvement in this year’s results as the young people become more familiar with the new implementations.

GCSE Grading table

Prepare to be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

Jul 02, 2018

When like-minded people argue, all they do is provide each other with new reasons supporting already held beliefs.  Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber

The title of this piece was a recurring line of the Borg in Star Trek: the Next Generation. The Borg were an alien entity that assimilated individuals they encountered into a collective hive mind. Those individuals were then no longer independent agents; they acted and thought as part of the collective.

Whilst perhaps not as extreme, is this not dissimilar to the groupthink that pervades society today: in organisations, in news media and on social media?

The term groupthink was popularised by Irving Janis in a 1972 book, Victims of Groupthink, although the term was coined by the writer William H. Whyte Jr in an article in 1952 in Fortune magazine. Janis defines groupthink as:

"a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action."

What this definition doesn’t include is that the group making decisions is usually made up of like-minded individuals, probably recruited, in part, on the basis of being like-minded. This can give the group a strong identity but does it help them evaluate and address their objectives?

An organisation or project engaging in groupthink suffers from confirmation bias. It will:

  • look for evidence that supports its point of view
  • ignore evidence that undermines its point of view
  • will not consider alternative ideas and opinions or reconsider their assumptions

This can result in decisions and actions that are “more of the same”; lacking innovation, narrowly thought out and concerned with supporting group values rather than solving problems (what Thomas Sowell has called “self-congratulation as a basis for social policy”). However, because the group is convinced of its rightness these decisions and actions are considered to be morally good, justified and acceptable.

How can groupthink be addressed?

We hear a lot these days, rightly, about creating diverse workplaces that reflect the society in which they exist. ACAS says a diverse workforce “opens up a wealth of possibilities and helps to encourage creativity and foster innovation.” Usually this diversity is addressing issues around race, education, social background, gender, age and culture.

What if “thought diversity” was added to this list?

Looking at issues from a point of view that is different from the group consensus, even as a devil’s advocate, can help test the validity, usefulness and effectiveness of proposed activities. At the very least they can provide a reality check. In addition, a different perspective can introduce ideas, perspectives and solutions that would otherwise be side-tracked – or probably not even perceived -by the prevailing groupthink.

As George S. Patton said: If everyone it thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.

Will secure schools improve outcomes for BAME young people serving custodial sentences in the youth justice system?

Jun 12, 2018

The MOJ are consulting on their procurement prospectus for the new model of youth custody that promises to put education at its heart. But will this result in improved outcomes for BAME children and young people?

It’s almost three years since the then Justice Secretary Michael Gove instigated a review into the youth justice system. Charlie Taylor, a respected educationalist, was appointed to chair it and the subsequent Taylor Review was published in December 2016. Mr Taylor is now chair of the Youth Justice Board.

The centrepiece of the Taylor Review was its proposal for a new model of youth custody - Secure Schools. These new institutions would be run by a head teacher and specialist staff teams, with smaller intakes of young people and with the focus on education.

This all sounded incredibly positive, so why should I have my doubts that this new model will deliver improved outcomes for BAME young people, who are heavily over-represented in the youth justice system?

There are a number of issues and precedents which lead me to question the plausibility of this new model delivering for BAME children.

The Taylor Review itself identified the issue of the over-representation of BAME and looked after children in the youth justice system. However, it failed to explore the reasons behind this disproportionality.

In the draft prospectus BAME groups and Looked after Children are both identified as groups disproportionality over-represented in the youth justice system. This is a step in the right direction but the prospectus should go further.

Why aren’t bidders being asked about their experience in working with BAME and looked after children and for evidence that they can improve the outcomes experienced by these groups? Assessing their track records in working with these groups would appear to be an obvious aspect of their credentials to interrogate.  

Many of the potential bidders are likely to come from Academy Trusts. However, there is continuing concern about higher rates of exclusions from Academy schools for SEN and BAME children, some of the very groups who need to see the greatest improvement in outcomes within the youth justice system. We believe the prospectus should be looking to promote a greater breadth of non-profit making bidders.

If specific engagement with children and young people directly affected and experiencing custody cannot be part of the pre-procurement process then surely engaging with civil society organisations who work with these groups should be. For a number of years the YJB has failed to proactively engage with civil society around the deteriorating outcomes for BAME children and young people compared with those for white young people children.  This stark disproportionality was at the heart of David Lammy’s observation that youth justice was his biggest concern.

Informing policy through engagement and dialogue is at the heart of the work BTEG has been involved with through the Young Review; supporting both the Lammy Review and partnerships across civil society in highlighting and engaging with government around ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system.

There is now a major concern in society around increased violent crime involving young people. At the same time violence and outcomes within the youth estate have deteriorated over the past years. This led to HM Prison’s Inspector stating last year that all of our youth prisons were unfit for purpose. With the over-representation of BAME groups in the system as both perpetrators and victims and the rise in violent incidents within custody and in the community now, is it time to give real thought to the experience of BAME children and young people in the youth justice system? Could there be a link between a system that clearly treats them more harshly, punitively and delivers poorer rehabilitative outcomes and the increase in violence?

We need greater engagement from the YJB and all public bodies working with vulnerable and marginalised children and young people with civil society. This must be about putting the voice of the user, and engagement with communities, at the heart of policy development not just as a tokenistic gesture.

Secure Schools are an opportunity but a traditional procurement development approach is, in our opinion, unlikely to reap the results for BAME young people and children that are so desperately needed.   

Photo credit: cphoffman42 on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

The month of giving

Jun 05, 2018

We are half way through the month of Ramadan - the holy month when over one billion Muslims around the world fast and focus their attention on giving to charity, known as Zakat. 

During Ramadan, both fasting and acts of charity are obligatory for all Muslims who are able to do so. Fasting (no food or water) from sunrise to sunset represents a spiritual cleansing; an effort to become closer to God and an attempt to gain a better understanding of human suffering. The daily routine during this month helps me focus on the principles of generosity, discipline, honesty, selflessness, tolerance and sacrifice. It also helps me reflect upon, and show compassion for, the less fortunate. 

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and, as a result, during Ramadan there is much charitable giving by the community. It is estimated by the Muslim Charities Forum that British Muslims gave approximately £100 million to charitable causes during the month of Ramadan in 2016 – almost £38 a second! Donations are usually focused on giving to those suffering from poverty and hunger and much is distributed to international causes. I don’t recall seeing much in the media about this positive side of Islam.

I like to advocate on behalf of the UK-based causes. How many of us consider donating during Ramadan to our local causes –homelessness, mental health, employability projects, work with offenders/ex-offenders or mentoring programmes? This year I have decided to allocate my donation as a 50/50 split between international causes and a local cause.  

For those of us working in the charity sector perhaps it’s time we started making the ask for donations to Muslims during the month of Ramadan.

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