• An analysis of the mandatory admission criterion within youth justice diversionary processes

      Cushing, Karen (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2016-08)
      ‘To require old heads upon young shoulders is inconsistent with the law’s compassion to human infirmity’ (Lord Diplock in Director of Public Prosecutions v Camplin Appellant [1978] AC 717)’. For young people in England and Wales who offend, diversion from formal proceedings has historically been a principle constituent of youth justice policy and practice, and presently accounts for over a third of all outcomes for detected youth offending (Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, 2015). Although attitudes concerning diversion have often oscillated between favour and criticism, and there has rarely been a period of sustained consensus or constancy of processes (Bernard, 1992; Goldson, 2010), eligibility for an out of court disposal has traditionally been dependent on an admission of some form being made by a young person. This thesis seeks to place the evolution of diversionary measures for young people who commit low level offences or engage in nuisance behaviours into a contextual and historical context, and explore why an admission has become, in the absence of any discernible political, academic or professional considerations, a central tenet of diversionary policies in England and Wales. Potential barriers which may prevent some young people making an admission and unnecessarily losing eligibility for an out of court disposal are considered, as well as the nature and standard of admission expected from young people, and the circumstances in which admissions are usually sought from them. This thesis also explores whether the mandatory admission criterion is compatible with other statutory and international obligations to consider the welfare of a young person when determining a suitable disposal, and whether it sufficiently distinguishes between young people unwilling to make an admission and those who may feel unable to. The thesis seeks to identify the gaps in current academic and professional knowledge concerning whether some young people may unnecessarily forfeit eligibility for a diversionary outcome for the sole reason that they do not make an admission. The research undertaken with relevant professionals’ endeavours to fill these gaps by exploring the practical application of the admission criterion, as well considering any suitable alternatives within the existing statutory regime.
    • Assessing the harm inside: a study contextualising boys' self-harm in custody

      Harrison, Poppy (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2016-12)
      Concerns about suicide and self-harm in English prisons are not new (Third report of the commissioners of prisons, 1880, cited in Liebling, 1992). However, a distinct system of intervention and custody for children (as established by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998) is relatively modern, and as such contextual studies about self-harm have largely, to date, overlooked children as a discrete group existing within a separate framework from adults. Similarly, large-scale research exploring self-harm among children in community settings has largely excluded the group of marginalised young people who come to the attention of youth justice services. This study presents a unique analysis of 181 youth justice assessments (‘Assets’) for boys who were remanded or sentenced to custody in under-18 Young Offender Institutions during 2014-15, tracing the subjects of the assessments from the communities they offended in through to a period in custody, using incident reports completed whilst they were there. What results is a contextual study examining the characteristics of the boys and their behaviour in custody. The study considers two central hypotheses: first, that to result in meaningful and supportive interventions, a definition of self-harm among the boys in the research sample often needs to include the harm they have done to their own lives (what the middle classes might call their ‘prospects’) through offending, and, second, that children who display the common traits of self-harming behaviour in custody may be identifiable by a different set of characteristics and needs from those who self-harm in the community. The author concludes that there is a previously undefined set of risk factors which can be applied to children who self-harm in custody for the first time, moving beyond the known risks associated with adolescent self-harm in the general population. Furthermore, it is found that boys who self-harm in custody are often oing so to exercise agency in an environment where they have very limited power, in circumstances defined not only by the restriction of liberty they are experiencing, but by the difficulties they experienced before coming to custody. Recommendations are made as to how policy-makers, through the current reforms to the youth justice system and a revised approach to assessments upon entry to custody, and practitioners, through increased awareness and improved recording of children’s views can more appropriately intervene in these boys’ lives to benefit them and society more widely.
    • Changes in diversionary strategies within the youth justice system of England & Wales (1908-2010)

      Randall, Vicki Louise (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2011-03)
      Youth justice in England and Wales is a highly politicised area of government policy and youth justice provision has always been a highly contested issue. The discourse of diversion stems from debates about the purpose and effectiveness of various types of penal regimes, and particularly their effect on children and young people in trouble with the law. The process of diversion aims to remove children and young people from the formal sanctions of the criminal justice system or minimize their penetration into it, and failing that it aims to avoid incarceration. Over the years diversion has taken many forms and the extent to which children have been diverted has varied. This thesis explores the various types of diversionary practice and how they have changed over time. It explores the political, administrative and professional conditions under which diversion has been a priority and those under which it has been effective. Bernard (1992) has argued that there is a ‘cycle of youth justice’ in which responses to youth crime move from the harsh to the more lenient before swinging back again. The thesis suggests that there is a ‘spiral’ of youth justice in which different paradigms are sometimes entangled together leading to the often contradictory and complex realities of youth justice and diversion without necessarily returning to the place of origin. It concludes that, given the current fiscal climate, there is a distinct likelihood that diversion policies will gain ascendancy. However, any developments will be fragile and susceptible to unintended consequences if the ‘real’ outcomes for children and young people are not part of the motivation for reform.
    • Children first, offenders second: an aspiration or a reality for youth justice in Wales

      Thomas, Susan (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2015)
      England and Wales have the same criminal justice system, but devolution in Wales has created some differences between the two countries. In Wales all child and young person related services, with the exception of youth justice, are devolved to the Welsh Government. It is claimed by some that devolution has resulted in youth justice policy in Wales diverging from that of England. This is because of the Welsh Government’s adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been incorporated into its domestic legislation. This is not mirrored in England, as the UK Government’s youth justice policies during the New Labour period have been characterised as punitive, risk-led and managerialist. Although attitudes and approaches changed during the Coalition Government’s administration, the fundamental features of the system have not. Youth justice in Wales has been described as taking a ‘children first, offenders second’ approach to children and young people in trouble with the law, which by inference suggests the opposite for youth justice in England. The purpose of this study is to examine whether there is a different youth justice in Wales. This was done by scrutinising a range of evidence that included the policies of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales and the Welsh Government and the interface and relationship between them, to determine what youth justice in Wales looks like and how it compares to youth justice in England. This was supported by an analysis of YJB data about the operation of the system, which disaggregated information about Wales from national statistics, to establish if outcomes for young people in Wales differed from their counter-parts in England. Finally, the perspectives of practitioners in two youth offending teams in England and two in Wales were explored to establish what their practice cultures looked like and the extent to which practitioners had similar or different views about how the system should and does operate, whether a ‘children first’ philosophy is dominant in Wales and how this relates to the policy positions of the respective governments.
    • A comparative study of beekeeping as an intervention with troubled young people

      Tierney, Patrick (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2012-10)
      “Although they make up only 11 per cent of the population above the age of criminal responsibility (in England and Wales), in 2009, people in this age group were responsible for 17 per cent of all proven offending” (NAO, 2010:5). Sadly, 56 per cent of these young people are likely to re-offend within one year (NAO, 2010). These trends are not unique; they are common to many countries worldwide (e.g. De Gusti et al, 2009). Arguably then, current government strategies that aim to reduce recidivism including custodial sentences, are not working (Clarke, 2011). However, terms such as ‘criminal offence’ and the age criteria for criminal responsibility vary widely in their definitions between and within countries. Furthermore, reasons why young people re-offend emerge from complex and multi-dimensional needs and risk factors, which themselves vary over time. Attempts at correlations and comparisons are therefore inevitably contentious. Interventions perceived as most effective at reducing recidivism focus on multi-systemic approaches to changing behaviours (e.g. DfES, 2006). This research and its findings, contributes towards a better understanding of these multi-dimensional factors. This report presents outcomes from a mixed-methods, ethnographic, comparative research project in relation to a four-day intensive outdoor experiential education programme. For the purposes of this report, the programme is called ‘Bee Inspired’ and is specifically for young people defined as ‘at risk’ of offending or re-offending. Bee Inspired is unique because it involves the participants’ immersion in learning the practical skills of beekeeping. The research was based in three countries: the Azores islands (Portuguese-governed), Prince Edward Island, Canada and England, United Kingdom. During the programme, the participants were observed closely and their behaviour, experiences and comments recorded. Additional data were collected through written questionnaires and focus group sessions during and at the completion of the programme. The outcomes are presented using a method of written ‘vignettes’. This gives voices to the participants, whose perspectives, within research data, are often absent. This report provides evidence of their positive experiences of cognitive, social and emotional development during the Bee Inspired programme; these being intrinsically linked to the programme’s objectives and the researcher’s theoretical and ontological perspectives. The findings were triangulated; qualitative and quantitative data support previous educational research and produces some new insights. The research tracked the progress of the participants twelve and eighteen months after the completion of the Bee Inspired programme. Out of 45 participants, only three participants re-offended within eighteen months; well below average and expected norms as defined in similar research. In addition to the low re-offending rates, many participants continued their beekeeping practices which in itself may contribute to the perceived success of the programme. In conclusion, although small-scale and limited in terms of scope and generalizability, this research illuminates the experiences of young people ‘at risk’ involved in experiential education. The complex and multi-dimensional nature of these experiences relate to individuals’ diverse needs. Further research into experiential education programmes is therefore required, in particular, investigations into why factors specific to beekeeping could provide a way of reducing recidivism amongst some young people at risk.
    • Embracing the consumer : an exploration of what current marketing theory can teach the youth justice system in England and Wales about how to engage with young people

      Thorne, Andrew (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2013-10)
      ABSTRACT The impact of business theories on the youth justice system that arrived through New Public Management (NPM) and became manifest in managerialism, is a relatively well researched phenomenon within the social sciences discipline. What is less well known are the origins of managerialism and its theoretical underpinnings within industrial production theory. It is the intention of this thesis to look at these origins within production theory from the perspective of the business discipline, and examine how they have been implemented within the youth justice system. This review and analysis will be supplemented by primary research from an online attitudinal survey that looked at how these changes were perceived by staff working within Youth Offending Teams (YOTs). What will be seen is that the respondents of the online survey bear out in their professional lives many of the conclusions of the academic research already completed. They dislike much of the practice associated with managerialism, and wish to work in a system that is focussed around building therapeutic relationship and based on increasing the engagement and participation of young people. The second part of the thesis takes this research one step on, and asks practically how practice can be updated. It will be argued that the theoretical underpinnings of managerialist practice are outdated in the private and public sector due to the rise of consumerism allied with the power of the internet and increased consumer choice. It will be suggested that once again the discipline of business should be studied and copied, and the lead from successful consumer facing businesses followed, where increasing consumer participation and engagement in products and services is seen as a key way of gaining competitive advantage. Value co-creation, the marketing model that theorises this approach, would provide a way of incorporating a consumer focus into the youth justice system. In addition it will be proposed that Taylorist production theory should also be updated to one that is consumer focussed – lean theory – a model that already has political traction in the public sector. Through the use of these models it will be argued that the youth justice system can move from a managerialised production-led system that ignores young people to something that embraces the consumer society that surrounds it and engages and uses the skills of young people within the system to engage in their rehabilitation.
    • Essays and studies in youth justice, crime and social control

      Hil, Richard (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2002)
      The following report examines the contribution my publications have made over the course of a twenty-year career in government departments (in Britain) and academic institutions (in Australia) to advancing scholarly inquiry in the areas of Youth Justice, Young People and Social Welfare, and Criminology. In the section dealing with Youth Justice publications I have given patiicular attention to a dominant and coherent area of study under the heading Families, Crime and Juvenile Justice. The conmmon thematic content of my publications focuses on the ways in which celiain individuals and social groups perceive and experience systems of social control. Additionally, the report highlights a range of allied pUblications that have dealt with the consequences of largely state-sponsored policies and practices in relation to a range of 'subject populations'. It is argued that my contribution to advancing knowledge in the above areas has been achieved in two primary ways: (a) through a range of original pubEcations based on theoretical and empirical studies, and substantial polemical and critical work; (b) through significant engagement in scholarly debate and discussion (including citation of my work in the publications of other academics) and facilitation of reflexive discussion an10ng social welfare practitioners and policy makers. Finally, the report attempts to contextualise my publications through a detailed discussion of the personal and intellectual origins of my work over the past two decades. The latter involves a general review of the sociological, criminological and social welfare literature relating to a prevailing concern with what I have broadly tenned the 'phenomenology of social control' .
    • A matter of confidence : an exploration of how magistrates' confidence in youth offending team service provision can make a difference to decision-making in the youth courts

      Ivankovic, Lucy (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2011)
      The vast majority of children and young people appearing in criminal courts in England and Wales are sentenced through a youth court by lay magistrates. The magistrates court deals with 96% of all criminal cases in England and Wales and it is lay magistrates who decide on questions of fact, and sentence those convicted in 91% of these cases. Therefore, how Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) and magistrates work together is a matter of interest. This research explores the extent to which magistrates' confidence in the YOT's service provision can make a difference to the decisions made with regards to bail/remand, sentencing, enforcement and revocation on grounds of good progress. Furthermore, the research considers how YOTs might improve the confidence of magistrates in their service provision and makes recommendations for practice in this regard.
    • Real bad girls : the origins and nature of offending by girls and young women involved with a county youth offending team and systemic responses to them

      Williams, Jeanette Deborah (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2009-10)
      Amidst growing concerns about a rise in girls entering the Youth Justice System and official data highlighting increases in girls violent offending this doctoral thesis focuses on girls in the Youth Justice System. Drawing on case files and in depth interviews with a cohort of girls supervised by a Home Counties Youth Offending Team (YOT), and interviews with YOT practitioners it explores their needs and offending patterns and examines contemporary system responses to them. It aims to contribute to practice knowledge and understanding about girls offending, and to identify approaches and interventions most likely to be effective with them. Findings point to girls having multiple and interrelated needs and troubled backgrounds. Exclusion from school and non attendance, experience of severe family conflict and violence, heavy alcohol use and poverty and disadvantage are all cited as key risk factors for girls’ involvement in offending and other types of behaviour which can lead to social exclusion. Minor assault and the influence of alcohol emerge as key features in girls offending patterns. Assaults commonly arise from disputes with friends or family members, or occur whilst girls are in a mixed peer group where assaults are perpetrated against another young person or a Police Officer. The impact of more formal responses by Police and YOTS are evident and show that the highly regulated and male oriented Youth Justice System hampers the likelihood of successful interventions with girls. This study cites the importance of gender specific responses and interventions which are holistic, informal and flexible to meet the distinct needs and offending patterns of girls in the Youth Justice System. More widely early identification of girls at risk, information sharing across children, health and adult services, and the provision of a range of support and positive opportunities to girls which extend beyond the life of a Court Order are identified as key aspects of strategies aimed at improving future outcomes for girls.
    • The significance of inter racial conflict in the identity formation of BME young people

      Bailey, Joan (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2013-09)
      Amidst growing concerns due to a rise in incidents of inter racial conflict between African Caribbean and South Asian young men; this thesis draws on the concept of identity formation as an instigating factor in terms of why young people may get embroiled in conflict with other cultural groups. Drawing on semi structured questionnaires with professionals and community workers, an ethnographic study with young people involved in or party to the incidents and a few in depth focus groups it explores the historical issues associated with the conflict, the development of identity and how and why this may be different for those from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups and how it can then materialise into conflict when threatened. It aims to contribute to practice, knowledge and understanding of inter racial conflict and how the creation of positive identities can reduce these incidents. It also seeks to identify approaches and interventions most likely to be effective in addressing this which include working with parents, carers and the wider community who may carry some of the historical issues that allow the conflict to exist. Findings point to identity formation being complex and multifaceted, which can be affected through personal and social experiences: many of these being different for young people from BME communities. Identity is fragile and can be shaped and changed through these experiences which can be compounded by interrelated needs and anxious backgrounds which can then manifest into behaviour that targets those that they may feel threatened by. This study cites the importance of cultural specific responses and interventions which are holistic, informal and flexible to meet the distinct needs of not only young people but those that are influential in their lives. In addition it highlights the importance of work associated with identity formation and the creation of positive identities as a precursor to reducing conflict situations.
    • The systemic determinants of levels of child incarceration in England and Wales

      Bateman, Tim (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2010-04)
      For a brief moment in the 1980s, a number of local authorities across England and Wales declared themselves ‘custody free zones’ (Rutherford, 2002), symbolising an intent that children should not be incarcerated for their offending behaviour within the local authority boundary. While this lofty aspiration was not always fulfilled, on occasion it was. More importantly, such declarations can be seen as manifestations of a widespread commitment, extending well beyond those ‘zones’, to the idea that the use of custody for children should be avoided wherever possible. During the course of the decade, that commitment found expression in an unprecedented fall in the number of young people deprived of their liberty by the criminal courts. The 1990s proved to be very different. A sea-change in the treatment of children in conflict with the law led to an escalation in custody every bit as sharp as the decline that had preceded it. This thesis seeks to explain that shift in order to understand the implications for practice if the imprisonment of children is to be reduced. The explanatory account is set against a longer term background of social, economic and political change that yielded what Garland (2002) has characterised as the ‘crisis of penal modernism’. It invokes what Foucault (1991) calls a ‘history of the present’ in which patterns of incarceration since the late 1960s are analysed to shed light on the systemic determinants of the current high level of youth custody. Local variations in the use of child imprisonment are also interrogated in the context of the historical experience to ascertain the nature of political, systemic and cultural factors that are consistent with lower rates of detention. The thesis concludes that the recent rise in custody cannot be understood in isolation: the same underlying dynamic that fuelled the carceral explosion impacted equally on other aspects of the youth justice system; and necessitated a significant cultural shift on the part of the those who might previously have been expected to resist the use of detention. Without an understanding of these corresponding changes, strategies for custody reduction that rely heavily on the provision of ‘robust’ community based alternatives, or those that seek to reduce the population of the secure estate simply by ‘nipping in the bud’ (Straw, 1997) children’s offending, are unlikely to lead to the desired outcome.
    • Too little, too late? parenting orders as a form of crime prevention

      Vlugter, Roberta (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2009-10)
      The development of Youth Justice in the UK since the early 1990s has been informed by the belief that the family plays a key role in youth offending. In 1998 the parenting order was introduced, based on the assumption that interventions to improve parenting will have a positive effect upon offending. The availability of the order was extended in 2005, reflecting the view that parents who do not undertake parenting support are being wilfully negligent of their responsibilities and must be made to take the help offered. In this thesis the assumptions justifying the parenting order and its extensions are questioned. Evidence suggests that although parenting is influential, it is one of many factors associated with the onset of or desistence from offending. Furthermore, as this thesis highlights, parents likely to receive parenting orders are often experiencing several personal and environmental 'stressors', creating high levels of need. These situational pressures and high level of need, this thesis argues, are likely to make it difficult for them to be effective in their role, or to gain long term benefit from attending a parenting programme. Furthermore, many parents have histories of unsuccessfully seeking assistance from 'helping agencies', refuting the assumption of wilful neglect. This thesis considers the advantages and limitations of parenting work as a form of crime prevention and specifically looks at the use of the parenting order. An argument is presented for a wider, more holistic approach to parenting work than that offered by the parenting order as a form of crime prevention and for providing assistance to families earlier.
    • Understanding extra-judicial responses to young people’s offending; out of court disposals and ‘diversion’ in social context

      O'Brien, Katy Diana (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-02)
      This thesis explores the use out of court disposals as responses to offending by 10–17 year olds, through analysing a case study of a diversionary practice in one local authority between 2012 and 2014. The case study is made up from mixed methods data from fourteen service user interviews and a focus group of six staff who had been involved in the delivery model, which included some visual methods. There is also some data from local authority systems that provides insight into the service contact patterns of the interviewees. The data is thematically analysed using a framework based on ecological systems from Bronfenbrenner (1979) and Bourdieu’s ‘thinking tools’ (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). The work of France et al (2012), which proposed the notion of ‘political ecology’ as useful for understanding young people’s relationship with crime, is extended to provide a framework for understanding practice that diverts young people from prosecution. The thesis contributes to knowledge by showing how ‘diversion’ includes a range of practices whose operation can be understood in terms of Bourdieu’s social fields. This data challenges a traditional construct of ‘the system’ and suggests that the notion of system entry is unhelpful for understanding the experiences of young people. Some young people emerge as having contact with a wide range of services including social care and early help and thus they can be considered to already be system involved when this broader picture is considered. Thus a notion of ‘keeping them out’ of the system, as suggested at the focus group as a rationale for offering minimal service responses, was mismatched with their experiences and their needs. There is also critical discussion of how the practice of community resolution by police without involvement from young peoples’ services can be considered as a separate field of practice and is usually understood as being outside ‘the system’. Insight is gained into the ecological worlds of service users and this offers a sense of how diversionary processes are contextualised by a range of influences, which are analysed by applying the notion of political ecology. Many of these young people faced considerable social adversity and very minimalist responses in the name of diversion which produced a mismatch in terms of service offers and need. Bourdieu’s thinking tools are applied to promote critical reflexivity. The mismatch is relevant to understanding ideas of labelling and how this may be understood in terms of social interaction. Insight from the reflexive analysis shows how young people attribute varying levels of significance to receiving out of court disposals and related services which is affected by social context. It is suggested that to promote desistance clarity about disposals and relatability of responses need to be promoted. Also a sense of connectedness to others stood out as important to preventive processes. There are implications for policy and practice which include a need for joined up decision-making between police and young people’s services and relationship-based practice approaches for those young people with more complexity of need.