• Perceptions and experiences of children and young people in English Custodial Centres and Spanish Re-educational Centres: a comparative study

      Romero McGuire, David (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-04-14)
      This thesis examines countries that have not yet reached full compliance with international standards when it comes to children who offend. England and Wales’ youth justice system has been framed, even though it has not always been the case, within a ‘justice model’ where the protection of the public and a focus on reduction of offending take precedence over the welfare of the child. This sets it even further away from others in achieving some of the standards stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989; the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985; the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec. 20, 2003; the UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, 1990; and the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, 1990. Research has argued that children experience a justice system that is more punitive and are treated more harshly than Spain. Although efforts are being made to comply with such standards and to promote children’s well-being, there is much work to be done. It requires a change and harmonisation of policies and practices, on a national, European and UN level. In order to demonstrate this, a comparison of the youth justice systems in England and Wales and Spain was performed. This thesis is drawing primarily on questionnaires completed at 20 Spanish Re-educational Centres during the summer of 2016, completed by 561 children. Eleven of those were interviewed alongside 10 members of staff. As the questionnaires are the same used in the custodial centres in England and Wales, it points out some differences between countries. The interviews offer a more in-depth understanding of the practices which could not be captured in the questionnaires. The impossibility of interviewing in England and Wales due to my role as CEO, justified change from a comparison to a case study. This has the advantage of allowing the data collected to be of great depth. The amount of participants involved in the questionnaires from Spanish custodial centres is a large sample difficult to achieve. Some amendments include the use of language and the culture among others illustrate the challenges associated with undertaking a comparative study between countries. Nevertheless the amount of data from Spanish centres represent a useful tool which gives the possibility of learning and improving practice. There appears to be no previous research in Spain involving such a large sample from different counties. And it is the first time a questionnaire is used in two different Justice System which allows a comparison of the different experiences. This study intended to open people´s minds to think beyond what each of us believes is the only truth about models of youth justice and the delivery of services.