AIM PROJECT (Assessment Intervention Moving on)
The establishment of a National Youth Justice Board following the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) provided, at long last, an opportunity to address the development of services for young people who sexually harmed/ offended in a more strategic and consistent manner; a significant opportunity to build an infrastructure for practice that had been so far missing.
In response in 1999 the ten Youth Offending Teams and Social Service Departments, NSPCC, the police, education, health and G-Map all working across Greater Manchester successfully made a joint bid to the Youth Justice Board for a three year development project (AIM) with the objective of establishing policies, training and services to young people who sexually harm/ offend against others. A coordinator was appointed and an inter-agency steering group established.
The vision from the outset was that collaboration across agencies and local authority boundaries could enable the establishment of a range of services to meet the diverse needs of these young people and their families.
An early decision was made to not establish AIM as a service provider into which agencies would refer children and young people for assessment and treatment. It was felt that focusing responses around a specialist resource would not only fail to address the level of demand, but also result in unhelpful delays to service provision.
Such a move required the development and implementation of clear and consistent policies and procedures (endorsed by the partners and written into Child Protection Procedures) in order to build the confidence of frontline workers and ensure they did not feel isolated in making decisions and recommendations.
Research across Greater Manchester (Henniker & Foster 2000) discovered that in over a quarter of cases young people charged with sexual offences had not been subject to any form of assessment. Moreover 49% of YOT workers interviewed reported significant concern about current approach, process and outcomes for young people who sexually harmed. The consequences of inadequate assessment could include; under and over estimation of risk,; failure to provide appropriate services; low risk cases being referred for intensive and lengthy intervention programmes; neglect of wider family and social influencing factors; failure to engage parents and inter disciplinary conflicts and miscommunication.
In brief AIM went on to develop;
A range of tools for assessment and intervention with children and young people who display sexually harmful behavior that were distributed and trained too across Greater Manchester;
* Assessment and interventions with under 10’s linked to the Core and Initial assessment; now revised for under 12’s;
* Assessment and interventions for adolescents 10- 18 years (which has updated 2012 and now is relevant for females and those with a Learning Disability; also includes information on young people who misuse new technologies, supervision of staff and community safety planning);
*Assessment of families and intervention work;
Following these developments AIM became aware of the need for specialist agencies to have specific tools and hence developed ‘pre AIM assessment models’ for;
* Foster Carers
* Residential Staff
To try and ensure that they were linked/ integrated into the AIM policies and procedures and could be assisted in recording incidents of sexually harmful behaviour in a meaningful and consistent way and therefore produce robust referrals.
Since 2008 AIM has been a registered Charity.
Since this date AIM has concentrated on national perspective of work with children and young people who sexually harm; continuing to develop/ update models of assessment and intervention in conjunction with our range of associates, providing training and consultation to a wide range of Local Authorities’ alongside developing policies and maintaining standards for this group of children and young people.
AIM has continued to listen to practitioners and their need for ‘user friendly tools’ ‘take home tools’ to use in their practice, promoting a co-working multi-agency approach.
One specific area that the project has considered is in the field of Restorative Justice.
AIM has run a pilot caseload in respect of RJ and SHB. From this three sets of guidelines outlining Best Practice in relation to Victim Contact, Referral Order Practice and Running a Restorative Meeting in cases of RJ have been produced (see store for details). Additionally a thorough Restorative Assessment framework has been developed and revised (Available from April 2013) to assist restorative practitioners to judge suitability and ensure safety in cases of SHB.
The project currently works with a wide range of local authorities in the United Kingdom sharing and promoting policies, models of working, training and consultation. With an ultimate aim of influencing and contributing to the development a common national response to children and young people who sexually harm.
In addition the project has worked internationally and the AIM2 assessment model has now been translated into Dutch, Spanish, German and discussions are currently underway with specialists in Italy.