Youth Justice Board chief executive Lin Hinnigan to quit

Resignation announcement comes ahead of the publication of the Taylor Review of the Youth Justice System

By Jim Dunton

16 Jun 2016

Lin Hinnigan has announced that she is to step down from the helm of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales after three years in post.

The move follows a turbulent period for the organisation, which oversees the management and rehabilitation of offenders aged under 18, and ahead of the publication of Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system, which is expected to be published next month.

In her resignation statement, Hinnigan said she primarily wanted to ensure continuity of leadership at the YJB, but noted that the Taylor review would instigate a protracted period of change for the organisation.

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“I came into post in April 2013, at a time which was deliberately planned to be a year before a new chair was appointed, so that the YJB should not have a change of chair and chief executive at the same time,” she said.

“It makes sense to repeat that pattern now. Youth justice, and the YJB, has been subject to constant change and that is set to continue with the youth justice review, so there is never likely to be a time of stability which is a good moment for a chief executive to go.

“But our work contributing to the review itself is now entering its final phases and once Charlie Taylor has reported we will enter into a different phase – a period of transition, which I expect to continue for some years.”

Justice secretary Michael Gove last year asked former National College of Teaching and Leadership chief executive Charlie Taylor to examine how the youth justice system could be reformed and reoffending rates among under 18s brought down. 

Gove noted there had been “little progress” in more than a decade and that 67% of young people leaving custody committed further crime within a year of their release.

Taylor’s remit includes exploring whether the current delivery models and governance arrangements for youth justice remain fit for purpose and achieve value for money.

Last month Gove announced that the National Offender Management Service would take over the management of the Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent following revelations about the mistreatment of young people made in a BBC TV Panorama documentary.

Further concerns about G4S-run secure institutions in Bridgend and Rainsbrook in Northamptonshire subsequently emerged.

Frances Crook, chief executive of campaign group the Howard League for Penal Reform, subsequently called for Medway, Rainsbrook and the Oakhill centre in Milton Keynes to be closed down, saying secured training centres had "failed children for two decades".

"As a nation we have to learn that we cannot keep inventing new ways to lock up children who simply do not require custody," Crook added. "It puts them in danger, costs a fortune and is morally corrosive to society.”

Crook declined the opportunity to comment on Hinnigan’s resignation. However, justice minister Andrew Selous said the outgoing chief executive had led the YJB with “vision and determination”.

He said: “Lin’s dedication has never wavered and her commitment to the young people in her care is evident.”

YJB chair Lord McNally conceded that the organisation had gone through “challenging times” over the past three years, but said Hinnigan had presided over a period when the number of young people in custody had “fallen to record low levels”.

He said an announcement about her replacement would be made “in due course”.

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