SCYJ is a membership body campaigning for a better youth justice system. We pool the expertise of our members to work on issues surrounding children in trouble with the law. Our work focuses on policy and legislation affecting all aspects of the youth justice system and young people caught up in it – from policing to resettlement.
We advocate a child-focused youth justice system that promotes the integration of children in trouble with the law into society and tackles the underlying causes of offending. Such a system would serve the best interests of the children themselves and the community at large.
SCYJ’s Directors are elected annually to plan and oversee the work of the Committee. Currently we have four Directors, they are:
Ali Wigzell - Chair
Ali Wigzell is the current Chair of SCYJ. Ali is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) at Birkbeck, University of London. She joined ICPR in 2012 having spent three years as a senior researcher at the think tank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), leading their work on youth justice.
Youth justice is Ali’s area of research specialism. Her work in the field includes a major review of youth justice at the CSJ, and the report of the Parliamentarians’ Inquiry into the Operation and Effectiveness of the Youth Court, which was chaired by Lord Carlile.
Ali is currently studying for a Ph.D in Criminology at the University of Cambridge. Her PhD is an ethnography of youth justice supervision and the role of young person-worker relationships in facilitating desistance. She is a guest lecturer on youth justice at Birkbeck, University of London. Ali is also a Trustee of the National Association of Youth Justice, a Fellow of the CSJ and an Advisory Board Member of Peer Power UK.
Penelope Gibbs - Deputy Chair
Penelope Gibbs is the current Deputy Chair of SCYJ. Penelope is currently Director of Transform Justice. Prior to this she was Director of the Out of Trouble programme for the Prison Reform Trust. This five year programme, funded by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, seeks to reduce the number of children and young people imprisoned in the UK. Penelope worked for the Prison Reform Trust for five years. Previously Penelope worked for the charity TimeBank and for the BBC, and sat as a magistrate.
Sally Ireland - Secretary
Sally Ireland is the current Secretary of SCYJ. Sally has worked in human rights and youth justice policy for a number of years after a period in practice as a criminal barrister. She is also a former Chair of SCYJ.
Tony Book - Treasurer
For the past 29 years, Tony Book has served as a magistrate at Brighton magistrates’ court where he chaired both Adult and Youth sittings and for many years has been an appraiser helping to maintain high standards throughout both East and West Sussex.
More recently was he was a Youth Panel Vice Chair and Appraisal Coordinator for the Central Sussex Bench. He has extensive experience in the private sector, including at Lever Brothers and American Express. He was founder and chief executive of Compass Consultancy, specialising in Database marketing techniques and has held a variety of senior positions at Riomay Ltd – a renewable energy company. In a number of other roles, Tony has worked to promote renewable energy, including Chairing the UK section of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) and sitting on its World Board. He has longstanding experience of community service, including working as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Ambassador, a school governor, a gateway assessor at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, a magistrate, and being a member of the University of Brighton’s Medical School Fitness to Practice committee.
Jen Chambers - Director
Jen Chambers is a Policy Adviser at the Howard League for Penal Reform. Prior to this, she worked for the Youth Justice Board
John Drew - Director
John Drew was Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales from 2009 to 2013 and prior to that had spent a decade as a Director of Social Services and Housing in the east London borough of Redbridge. John had worked as a children’s social work, principally in the areas of children in care, in need of protection, or who were offending, since 1974, qualifying as a social worker at the University of Sheffield in 1978. John was appointed a C.B.E. for services to youth justice in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2013.
During John’s period as the Chief Executive of the YJB, he led (with the Chair, Frances Done) a repositioning of the YJB that amongst other things contributed significantly to the reduction, (by 55%) of the number of children held in custody in that time.
Since retiring in 2013, John has taken on a number of non-executive and part-time roles. He is, currently, a Visiting Professor at the University of Bedfordshire; chairs the Medway Safeguarding Children’s Board; co-chairs the North East London Children’s Resettlement Consortia; is a Board member of East Thames Housing Association; and works with the Prison Reform Trust as a Senior Associate. John is a trustee of the Social Research Unit at Dartington and Deputy Chair (and chair elect) of the Criminal Justice Alliance.
In 2015/16, John led the Independent Review of South Yorkshire Police’s response to child sexual exploitation, and was Secretary to the Independent Review of the criminalisation of looked after children, the Laming Review.