• Child imprisonment: exploring injustice by geography

      Bateman, Tim; University of Bedfordshire (HM Prison Service, 2011)
      The risk that a child might be confined to the secure estate depends to a large extent on the post code of the court in which he or she is sentenced. At the level of individual youth offending team (YOT) area, the difference is 1 in 5 cases leading to a court disposal in Merthyr Tydfil to 1 in 150 in Dorset. This variation cannot be explained by local patterns of youth crime, but is indicative of a form of injustice. The article demonstrates that sentence decision-making at the local level is sensitive to a range of factors which distinguish the areas with a high use of detention from those which deprive few children of their liberty. These factors are: the extent of pre-court diversion; the distribution of sentencing options below the level of custody; and the manner in which youth justice practitioners respond to children who come to the attentions of YOTs. The article concludes that areas where the level of child imprisonment remains relatively low retain elements from an earlier era of youth justice committed to decriminalisation, diversion and decarceration. In contrast, localities with higher rates of incarceration show more features associated with the punitive turn of the early 1990s.
    • 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.