Thinking Differently in Youth Justice: changing and challenging the youth justice system

Roxanna is a Lecturer at Leicester Law School, University of Leicester and has recently defended her PhD thesis. Roxanna’s research, funded by the University of Leicester, examines the implementation of the appropriate adult safeguard in police custody for vulnerable adult suspects. Roxanna’s research has involved qualitative research methods (non-participant observation in custody and semi-structured interviews with custody officers). As the appropriate adult safeguard is also required for young people, Roxanna has also developed a keen interest in youth justice. She has written a paper on the vulnerability of children and young people in police custody to be published in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law in November 2017.


The following blog post gives a brief overview of some of the themes arising from the ‘Thinking Differently in Youth Justice’ conference held at the University of Leicester on 25 April 2017. Roxanna was responsible for organising the conference, alongside Sarah Brooks-Wilson. If you would like to contact Roxanna, you can email her roxanna.dehaghani@le.ac.uk or tweet her @roxanna_law.

http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/law/people/roxanna-fatemi-dehaghani 

The ‘Thinking Differently’ series was established so as to create a space for postgraduates to challenging taken-for-granted thinking in criminology and criminal justice. This second event – on the area of youth justice – brought together practitioners, established academics, and PhD candidates at various stages of their studies. The day began with a talk by Prof Hannah Smithson (who has been labeled a ‘pracademic’) who spoke about ‘Knowledge Transfer and Youth Justice’. In her talk, Hannah highlighted that many young people are neglected in discussions surrounding youth justice. She urged that inclusion, whilst vital, must ensure representativeness: central in this should be the voice of young people (and not just one, but many). The youth-centred focus must exist, not simply in policy and practice circles, but too in academic fora. The youth-focused approach continued through Anne-Marie Day’s talk, which teased-out the various concerns of looked-after children (as part of her PhD, Anne-Marie interviewed looked-after children). These concerns included not being heard, and being labelled, dehumanized, bullied, and separated from their birth families. Anne-Marie also raised the issue of the ‘paper self’: young people felt that what was written in their risk assessment took over their identity and they became the ‘bad’ child or the ‘mad’ child. Both of these talks drew attention to how important the child’s voice is within the youth justice arean.

Dr Kate Gooch and Piers von Berg then examined some legal aspects pertaining to the detention of young suspects in police custody. Highlighting that the police custody suite is the ‘gateway’ to the criminal process and that it is ‘out of sight, out of mind’, Kate and Piers urged that we reconsider how young suspects are treated within police custody. In particular, they drew attention to the lack of a complete policy agenda and the absence of national guidance on how to interview a child. Within this context, they urged for the maxim ‘Child First, Suspect Second’, although they recognized that currently the opposite is very much true. The ‘child first’ approach seems to be more closely adhered to in Scotland, as explored in Fern Gillon’s talk on Early and Effective Investigation (EEI). The Scottish approach may, particularly for a criminologist hailing from England, Wales or Northern Ireland, seem wonderful. Yet, as Fern highlighted, it was far from perfect: although there were claims that the system was free from power relations, the reality is such that the police act as gatekeepers and it is they who decide which cases go through to EEI. The main question raised by Fern was whether the Scottish system of EEI is effective and working or whether it is simply better than the alternative.

Power relations and the silencing of young people are not the only problems within the youth justice landscape: as the panel (comprised of Jayne Louise Price, Shantey Francis and Sarah Brooks-Wilson) highlighted, other problems exist such as: what happens to those transitioning from the youth to the adult justice system? What type of environment is required for children and young people to flourish? Are children and young people being adequately supported? Do they face social exclusion and a lack of mobility? And how does this exclusion and lack of mobility impact upon their treatment within the justice system? Prof Jo Phoenix’s highlighted some further worrying trends in her talk on the death of youth justice: not only have YOTs staff declined sharply, the decline has been more deeply felt for sessional and casual staff and volunteers, i.e. those who spend more time with young people. Jo urged the audience to consider whether falling numbers of children and young people entering the system really equated to a more just system and highlighted the unachievable goal of ‘justice’ in a society marked by social inequality. Her talk also served as a call for youth justice researchers to start thinking more radically and to see past the current systems of youth governance and youth justice.

In all, the day contained two pertinent lessons. The first was that we need to consider the voice of the child and the second was that we need to think of new ways of providing justice for children and young people. The day also highlighted the massive appetite amongst youth justice researchers for future networking, discussion, and collaboration. With this in mind we are thinking of ways to facilitate this through the British Society of Criminology and/or the BSC Postgraduate Committee. Watch this space!

PhD Blog – How can we make sense of the experiences of a growing number of Eastern European women in English prisons?

1448056554235This new contribution to the PhG guest blog is from Magdalena Tomaszewska. Magdalena is a second-year PhD candidate at the University of Surrey. Her PhD explores the treatment and experiences of female Eastern European prisoners in England and Wales (particularly those from the A8 and A2 accession countries to the EU). Working across 3 prisons in England and a third sector organisation providing support for female foreign national prisoners, she examines the lived realities of incarceration for these women, taking into account their socio-cultural backgrounds, relationships with staff and other prisoners, and the effects of the penal policy shifts which have prioritised removal of ‘foreigners’.

This project builds on her Masters research which explored the experiences of female foreign national prisoners in one prison in the South East of England and has been awarded Howard League’s John Sunley prize. Magdalena’s broad research interests lie in the area exploring linkages between identity, imprisonment and immigration control, especially in the context of women’s imprisonment. Alongside her doctoral studies, she is working with the University College London and a user-led charity User Voice co-coordinating a large-scale trial testing the merits of mentalisation based treatment (MBT) for offenders diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD).

Contact: m.tomaszewska@surrey.ac.uk


How can we make sense of the experiences of a growing number of Eastern European women in English prisons?

Anna, originally from the Czech Republic, came to the UK at the age of 10 and has lived here ever since. After committing a drug-related offence, she was sentenced to just over 3 years imprisonment. In addition to her custodial term she was also informed that she was going to be deported from the UK on the completion of her sentence, since, as it was explained to her, as a ‘foreign criminal’ she had ‘no right to remain in the UK’. She was released from HMP Peterborough earlier this year having successfully appealed her case.

Anna is one of a growing number of Eastern European women currently held in prisons throughout England and Wales. Since 2004, when 11 countries of the former Eastern Bloc[1] joined the European Union, the number of female prisoners originating from these countries has risen dramatically (even though the overall proportion of foreign nationals in the female estate has remained at a 11%) (MoJ, 2016). Today, within a population which counts nearly 80 countries, every third inmate comes from Eastern Europe, with Poland and Romania as the top two. Overall however, these women have remained invisible, apart from a handful of third sector accounts which emphasize their vulnerability to exploitation through trafficking (e.g. Prison Reform Trust, 2012), or press reports which lump them together with men, portraying them under the label of ‘dangerous Eastern European criminals’[2], and with it fuelling the demands for more streamlined deportations.[3]

Both of these perspectives are problematic. For one, given the difficulty in identifying victims of trafficking via the National Referral Mechanism it is tricky to assess how big a problem trafficking is amongst the incarcerated East European women (Gelsthorpe and Hales, 2012). It would be difficult to deduce that from the nature of offences which predominantly land them in prison, which PRT (2012) reports as theft and handling or drugs offences. At the same time, violent offences among this population are lower than for their British counterparts. Majority serve their first and only prison sentences, with a ‘very low’ risk of reoffending. In this sense, there is also little to support the argument that these women are especially dangerous.

These discussions however divert attention away from the changes that have already taken root in the female prison system. When Anna arrived at HMP Bronzefield in 2013, it had been 5 years since the UK Borders Act 2007 came into power, requiring all EEA nationals sentenced to more than 2 years imprisonment to be – in line with section 32 (5) of the Act – mandatorily deported from the UK[4]. This, as Kaufman (2012) has shown, was further accompanied by broader logistical arrangements between the Prison Service and the Home Office under the ‘hubs and spokes’ agreement, whereby non-citizens (especially those under deportation orders) are to be concentrated in specific foreign national ‘hub’ prisons which are furnished with full time immigration staff who are to facilitate a more efficient deportation process.

In 2013, on the recommendation of the NOMS Women’s Custodial Estate Review (2013), this system was adopted in the female estate. As the report advised, a female foreign national hub was to be created at HMP Peterborough, ‘taking into account best practice from the male hub and spoke system’ (p.6). Much like in the male estate then, the female prison system took it upon itself to systematically identify and segregate women who ‘do not belong in the UK’.

In my research I explore the experiences of currently the largest regional group within the female foreign prison population – Eastern European women – who ‘do time’ under these conditions. Taking inspiration from the scholarship which looks to questions about identity at the intersection of gender, race, and class to cast light on the prison as a space ‘permeated’ by broader social inequalities (e.g. Phillips and Earle, 2011; Bosworth and Kaufman, 2012), I am interviewing currently and formerly incarcerated Eastern European women as well as a range of practitioners working with them (prison officers, legal case workers), documenting accounts like that of Anna, who shortly before being transferred to HMP Peterborough was told by one prisoner that this was a place where “all you Russian prostitutes go to”, and where she could, according to one prison officer, “find the support of those with the same “culture”. Politics of identity, as Kaufman (2012, p. 18) observes, ‘are central to the practice of punishment’.

Stories such as Anna’s can offer new insights into this work, especially when it comes to documenting the relationship between imprisonment and nationality. Authors such as Emma Kaufman and Mary Bosworth have led this effort, developing illuminating accounts on how the practice of deportation and treatment of many non-citizens caught up in it (especially those originating from former British colonies) implicates the British prison in the exercise of ‘collective [postcolonial] amnesia’. The positioning of East European prisoners like Anna clearly doesn’t fit this frame. Instead, it seems to speak to anxieties about more recent, ‘suspect white’ migrants from poorer parts of Europe, who, although conform to racialized understandings of what it means to be European, are subject to gendered, classed and racialized framing as ‘other’, based on language and cultural difference (Bhui, 2016).

Thinking more broadly about the emerging themes, many important changes are currently taking place in the arena of British immigration policy. As the fieldwork for this project gathers pace, the British government is set to start the process of taking the UK out of the European Union. Although it seems that for now, the topic of foreign national prisoners as well as the specifics of immigration policy where it crosses paths with the prison system remain lower down the list of negotiation priorities for Theresa May, it is yet to be seen what effect Brexit will have on the carceral lives of the growing ranks of female prisoners from Eastern Europe (as well as those from wider EU) held in British penitentiary institutions. For Anna, one thing was clear: “Learn to live with uncertainty”.

References

Bhui, H. (2016), ‘Place of Race in understanding immigration control and the detention of foreign nationals’, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 16 (3), pp. 267 – 285.

Bosworth, M. and Kaufman, E. (2012), ‘Gender and Punishment’, in Simon, J. and Sparks, R. (eds.) Handbook of Punishment and Society, London: Sage.

Gelsthorpe, L. and Hales, L. (2012), ‘Criminalisation of Migrant Women’, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK, available at: http://www.crim.cam.ac.uk/people/academic_research/loraine_gelsthorpe/criminalreport29july12.pdf.

Kaufman, E. (2012), ‘Finding Foreigners: Race and the Politics of Memory in British Prisons’, Population, Space and Place, 18 (6), pp. 701 – 714.

Ministry of Justice (2016), Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2016, London Ministry of Justice.

National Offender Management Service (2013), Women’s Custodial Estate Review, available at: http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-client-groups/adult-offenders/nationaloffendermanagementservice/155762womens-custodial-estate-review.pdf.

Phillips, C. and Earle, R. (2011), ‘Cultural diversity, ethnicity and race relations in prison’ in Crewe, B. and Bennett, J. (eds.) The Prisoner, London: Routledge.

Prison Reform Trust (2012), ‘No way out: A briefing paper on foreign national women in prison in England and Wales’, (online), available at: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/portals/0/documents/nowayout.pdf.

Footnotes

[1] The 2004 A8 accession countries include: Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia. The 2007 A2 accession countries include: Bulgaria and Romania. In 2013 Croatia also joined the EU.

[2] See for example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2614279/Poland-tops-league-foreign-inmates-UK-jails-ahead-Ireland-Jamaica.html.

[3] See for example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3622924/EU-killers-rapists-ve-failed-deport-UK-s-inability-expel-thousands-foreign-criminals-undermines-case-EU-say-MPs.html, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2291020/more-than-130-polish-criminals-jailed-in-the-uk-should-have-been-deported-in-past-four-years-bungling-officials-admit/, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/eu-referendum-more-than-13000-foreign-criminals-awaiting-deportation-from-uk-a7063026.html.

[4] This rule also applies to all non-EEA nationals sentenced to more than 1 year in prison.

PhD BLOG – Youth sexting: can we ‘protect’ young people without ‘promoting’ youth sexting?

bsc-postgrad-blog-picThe latest contribution to the BSC Postgrad Blog is from Emilly Setty. Emily is a PhD researcher at the University of Surrey conducting a qualitative study into young people’s practices and perceptions surrounding ‘sexting’. Emily has conducted group and one-to-one interviews with young people aged 15 to 17, focusing on how they construct and navigate the ‘ethics’ of sexting, in particular with respect to notions of ‘privacy’ and ‘consent’. Emily has also interviewed teachers and surveyed parents on their views and perspectives on the phenomenon.

Prior to commencing the PhD, Emily obtained an MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice from King’s College, London and a BSc in Psychology from the University of Surrey. Emily has worked as a researcher conducting studies into gangs and youth violence for the Dawes Unit, Catch22 and as a social researcher for the Ministry of Justice. Emily has also worked with offenders in the community, supporting their resettlement from prison and has completed a placement at Broadmoor Hospital, where she worked on a large-scale research project exploring substance misuse and impulsivity among personality disordered patients.

You can get in touch with Emily on twitter @emilysetty or email e.setty@surrey.ac.uk.


In 1995, Carol Smart argued, we don’t “know how to support prostitutes without promoting prostitution” (p.67). Due to fears of the latter, we give up on aiming for the former. I’d argue the same applies to ‘sexting’ – defined as the “creation and sharing of personal sexual images or text messages via mobile phones or internet applications, including Facebook, Snapchat, and email.” (Hasinoff, 2015, p.1) – when it involves young people aged under 18. As a cultural phenomenon, ‘youth sexting’ has attracted media attention, public concern and a scramble for appropriate policy responses (Crofts et al., 2015). I’d argue due to fears of ‘promoting’ youth sexting, measures developed to address the ‘problem’, perhaps inadvertently, create barriers to realistic recourse – legal and otherwise – for those who experience harm.
In the panic around youth sexting, young people are constructed as at risk, naïve and vulnerable to perceived negative consequences of sexting. Moran-Ellis (2012) outlines these consequences as unauthorised distribution of their images online and/or around the peer group, bullying and harassment by peers, and exclusion from educational and employment opportunities when images become ‘public’. She suggests young people are considered likely to ignore or undervalue risk and lack the ability to self-regulate. Consequently, the emphasis is on teaching young people about the risks to encourage them to eschew sexting until they are old enough to weigh up the consequences and make informed decisions (Döring, 2014).
To address youth sexting, under 18s are subject to legal prohibition, under child pornography legislation, and informal mechanisms of control, through school and community-based initiatives that emphasise abstention from sexting. To take the former, recently, there have been occasions that policing bodies and the Crown Prosecution Service have stated it is unlikely to be in the public interest to prosecute youth sexters when it just involves young people and no other elements of harm or abuse. These are welcome developments, particularly given the reach of child pornography legislation. The interpretation and application of such legislation has resulted in subjects of images being drawn in, because, technically, it is illegal for an under 18 to produce an image of themselves as they are classified as having produced ‘child pornography’, becoming both ‘perpetrator’ and ‘victim’.
While steps have been taken to de-emphasise legal responses to youth sexting, there remains a belief that complete decriminalisation is undesirable because it is necessary to send out a clear message that sexting is wrong, to prevent young people from harming one another. I would argue a different impact: given the risk of self-incrimination if victims come forward, combined with shame-based abstinence campaigning criticised for its implicit (and often explicit) victim-blaming – what are the chances young people who are harmed feel they have realistic avenues for recourse (see Bailey and Mouna, 2011; Slane, 2013 for discussions with respect to the Canadian context)?
My research with young people revealed not only can youth sexters, notably girls, experience unauthorised distribution, pressure and coercion to produce images and blackmail to continue producing images, they are also at risk of receiving – what I found to be shocking amounts of – unsolicited explicit images from boys.
Unsurprisingly, given the emphasis on ‘just saying no’ to avoid legal and social consequences of sexting, individualised solutions to harm prevailed in young people’s discussions. They discussed learning to handle being pressured into sexting, receiving ‘dick pics’ and such like, and seemed to perceive little option to seek recourse with respect to these harmful practices. While they were cognisant and critical of the broader social and cultural meanings that underpin harmful practices, most were despondent, considering harm ‘inevitable’ rather than unacceptable experiences that should be recognised and addressed on a broader level.
It seems the construction of youth sexting as just “sexting gone wrong”, in which a producer is seen as having made a ‘mistake’ – perhaps a legal one – rather than potentially involving harm and victimisation that should be recognised, just as it should for adults, can delegitimise the position of youth sexters, abandon them to find solutions to the issues they face alone and prevent them from recognising and labelling experiences of harm as unjustified and undeserved, rather than somehow their fault.
It seems to come down to how “… as a culture, we have a difficult time treating sex as a normal, healthy part of adolescence” (Pascoe, 2011, p.11). Indeed, Crofts et al. (2015) argue – no matter what various press statements and policy documents suggest – the emphasis on deterring young people through the threat of child pornography legislation is unlikely to end any time soon. Such legal risks feed neatly into the preferred abstinence approach taken to youth sexting as it prohibits all and any youth sexual experimentation and expression, rather than giving rights to freedom from harm, emphasising sexting ethics, privacy and consent (Hasinoff, 2015). The latter would involve saying to young people they are not responsible for the harm they experience and regardless of their prior actions they will be protected and defended if their privacy or consent is breached by another. Currently, the refusal to countenance that young people may choose to sext and do not uniformly experience it as harmful (Karaian, 2012) means blanket prohibition becomes the answer and young people who are harmed can feel they have nowhere to turn.

References
Bailey, J. and Mouna, H. (2011) ‘The gendered dimensions of sexting: assessing the applicability of Canada’s child pornography provision’, Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, 23(2), pp. 405-441.
Crofts, T., Lee, M., McGovern, A. and Milivojevic, S. (2015) Sexting and young people. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Döring, N. (2014) ‘Consensual sexting among adolescents: Risk prevention through abstinence education or safer sexting?’, Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 8(1), article 9.
Hasinoff, A.A. (2015) Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent. Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press.
Karaian, L. (2012) ‘Lolita speaks: ‘‘sexting,’’ teenage girls and the law’, Crime Media Culture, 8(1), pp. 57–73.
Moran-Ellis J (2012) ‘Sexting, intimacy and criminal acts: Translating teenage sexualities’, in: Johnson, P. and Dalton, D. (eds) Policing Sex. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 115–132.
Pascoe, C.J. (2011) ‘Resource and risk: youth sexuality and new media use’, Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 8(1), pp. 5-17.
Slane, A. (2013) ‘Sexting and the law in Canada’, Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 22(3), pp. 117-122.
Smart, C. (1995) Law, Crime and Sexuality: Essays in Feminism. London: Sage.

Thinking Differently about Youth Justice – Event & Call for Papers

The BSC Postgraduate Committee’s ‘Thinking Differently’ series brings together academics and practitioners to critically explore contemporary issues in criminology and challenge taken-for-granted assumptions. The series seeks to build on the work of the BSC Postgraduate committee’s work by hosting events that seek to provide a meaningful and relevant contribution to the criminology postgraduate experience within a supportive and inclusive environment.

Thinking Differently about Youth Justice

Contemporary youth justice can be suggested as laden with both problems and opportunities. Despite difficulties resolving the longstanding disproportionate treatment of particular groups (Smithson et al 2013, Uhrig 2016), opportunities to divert significant volumes of young people from youth justice services have also arisen. While responses to those who remain have become refocused on areas such as education (Taylor 2016), the status of young youth justice experts has also become elevated, with the promise that young voices can gain greater prominence (YJB 2016). This current state of flux has heightened the need for critical scrutiny (Phoenix 2015) while also cementing the importance of relationships between research, policy and practice, such as through the Greater Manchester Youth Justice University Partnership.
The BSC Postgraduate Committee would like to welcome postgraduates to the one-day event Thinking Differently About Youth Justice where space will be provided for discussion, reflection and the drawing together of contemporary themes in youth justice.

FREE Event

Tue 25 April 2017, 10:00 – 16:00 BST

Charles Wilson Building
University of Leicester
University Road
Leicester
LE1 7RH

Please book your FREE place via the Eventbrite link below.

Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bsc-postgraduates-thinking-differently-about-youth-justice-tickets-32033181107?aff=eac2

Confirmed Speakers:

Professor Jo Phoenix (Open University)
The Death of Youth Justice?

Professor Hannah Smithson (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Knowledge Transfer and Youth Justice: Developing and Embedding Youth Justice Research in Practice

Dr Kate Gooch (University of Leicester) and Piers von Berg (University of Birmingham)
Session title tbc

Call for abstracts

We invite abstract submissions of 300 words from postgraduate students on the theme of Thinking Differently About Youth Justice drawing on themes described above, and contemporary issues more broadly. Please email your abstracts to roxanna.dehaghani@le.ac.uk by 24th March – we will provide outcome notifications by 31st March.

Photo credit: BBC

PG BLOG -When does secondary victimisation stop? An argument for accountability

nicola-redgraveThis contribution to the BSC postgraduate Blog is from Nicola Redgrave. Nicola is a new postgraduate student who will resuming her studies in September. Her blog piece marries together her experience assisting victims of crime within the criminal justice system as a volunteer for victim support and the focus of her Masters dissertation; victims and repeat victimisation from the processes of the criminal justice system.  Want to hear more about this topic? contact Nicola here:

n.redgrave15@gmail.com @nikki_redgrave


Police and court procedures have been consistently scrutinised over the years as to the way in which victims are treated whilst working to secure a conviction. However, it is the failures of various agencies on the release of serious offenders which I will consider and the concept of tertiary victimisation in this context, which is quite evidently under-researched within criminological discourse.
The idea of tertiary victimisation does appear to be discussed more commonly in contemporary discourse, however, this does tend to be in terms of the wider social network of the primary victim, such as in cases of homicide and acts of terrorism, the relatives of the victims’ thus becoming tertiary victims. In principle, the notion of tertiary victimisation should naturally link to the concept of secondary victimisation, given the consistent failures from various justice agencies beyond conviction and release of an offender.
Primarily, it is important to outline that within the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights all human beings have a right to life, liberty and security from the state, these are basic fundamental rights. However, it could be argued that once an offender has committed a crime and particularly a crime against another human being which, as a result infringes on their human rights, would thus mean an offender would then forego their human rights to an extent. Reinforced by the Justice for all 2002 white paper whereby it states that victims’ rights should be central, although it does indicate that there should be some level of fairness towards the offender also, and this is where the complications arise in terms of ensuring the rights of both the offender and the victim are honoured without conflict.
Of course, in the UK, we are fortunate to have access to charities such as Victim Support, who are able and are renowned for assisting with a wide range of issues in the immediate aftermath of an offence being committed, right up until and during trial. This does however provoke thought as to what happens beyond this point, when the offender is released from prison.
I volunteered for Victim Support for around 12 months at the end of my undergraduate degree, and noted that the assistance offered in the immediate aftermath was not offered once an offender was released, or due to be released. In fact, it then soon became apparent that there are not currently any services offered for this point of the justice process. Once the courts and police have gotten their conviction, a victim is thus surplus.
At present, the MOJ (2015) highlights that, victims of violent or serious sexual offences will be offered the inclusion in the victim contact scheme by the Probation Service and thus be able to have some influence to the conditions imposed on the offender on release from prison, such as; preventing an offender from contacting them, any family members or entering the area in which the victim resides. This has been a requirement of the Probation Service since 1995 according to D’Enno (2007) where the victim would be contacted only if the offender was imprisoned for over 4 years, this changed in 2001 to offenders sentenced to 12 months or more.
It is highlighted in a number of publications, white papers and reports through various agencies that the reintegration and reform of an offender is imperative to prevent reoffending, thus being the primary concern for the criminal justice system at the point of the offender’s release. Although it is indicated that involvement from the victim is also important it is clear that the rights of both the victim and the offender cannot be honoured without infringing on one or the other. Obviously, reform is paramount here, particularly in terms of preventing reoffending, however it is noted by Baird (2009) that victims are not treated fairly in this sense, she emphasises that for victims of sexual assault, the effect can indeed be long lasting and victims may need support to recover, and not just in the initial aftermath as the impact of the offence could resurface in many cases, years later. It could be expected that once an offender is released in cases of sexual assault and rape that this could indeed resurface the effects the crime bore on a victim, as a result victimising them yet again.
I bore witness to this during my time at Victim Support, whereby a victim contacted the police to ascertain whether an offender had been released from prison five years into an eleven-year sentence, she was told she had “no right to be told as [the offender] had served his time”. This demonstrates the clear lack of understanding from a police officer’s position of the rights and processes in terms of victims within the justice system, thus provoking further thought to how often this is the case when it comes to the rights of a victim being infringed in order to uphold the rights of the offender.
In this case, it is evident that not only was she failed by the police, but by the Probation Service also, as their legal requirement to contact the victim prior to release was not honoured, thus the offender was left to move into a house across the road from her mother and work in an area a short walk from her home, where he continued taunt her through the offences he committed.
Emphasising that due to the lack of agencies available to offer that support for victims on release of the offender, and the rights and resettlement of the offender being central, victims are thus being subject to tertiary victimisation. But, what can be done? Clearly the rights and needs of the victims at this stage in the justice process needs to be carefully considered and awareness within various agencies needs to be reaffirmed and understood as meticulously as the rights and needs of the offender. It is all very well systems being in place in the immediate aftermath of the offence being committed, however victims are being consistently let down and marginalised once the offender has been sentenced and from then on.

References

1. Baird, V. (2009) “Sustainable Support for Rape Victims” available from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/aug/12/rape-crisis-funding

2. CPS (2002) “Justice for all” Available from: https://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/jfawhitepaper.pdf

3. D’Enno, D. (2007) “Brighton Crime and Vice 1800-2000” Barnsley: Wharncliffe Books

4. MOJ (2015) “Code of Practice for Victims of Crime” Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/476900/code-of-practice-for-victims-of-crime.PDF

5. United Nations (ND) “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” Available from: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

6. Victim Support (ND) “Getting Help After a Crime” Available from: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk

PHD BLOG – COMPLEXITIES AND CHALLENGES IN RESEARCH WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

Happy New Year from the BSC postgraduate committee! The first of our PhD blogs for 2017 is from Claire Paterson-Young. Claire is a PhD candidate a the University of Northampton in the Institute for Social innovation and Impact. Her research is focused on social impact measurement as a form of organisation performance management in enhancing the outcomes for young offenders.

me-1-1

Claire completed her undergraduate degree in Criminology and has a Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. She has worked as a Restorative Justice Practitioner and Youth Intensive Support Co-ordinator, which forded her the opportunity to develop her practical skills and knowledge in the criminal and youth justice field. This led in to her managing the Youth and Restorative Services within the Whole System Approach agenda. Here she led the Restorative Justice Workstream for developing and updating the Restorative Justice processes and procedures in Scotland. In addition, Claire was central in developing the organisations Safeguarding and Getting It Right For Every Child agenda.

 After relocating to England, Claire managed a specialised semi-independent provision for children and young people at risk of child sexual exploitation. Developing a special interest in child sexual exploitation, she moved to a Child Sexual Exploitation Coordinator role in the West Midlands. Claire currently lectures at the University of Northampton and University of Bedfordshire in Law and Youth Justice. She also delivers specialised Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Training nationally for a charity.

Contact: clcpaterson@gmail.com                             Twitter: @clcpaterson

The complexities and challenges in conducting research with children and young people in custody.

Youth crime and offending continues to receive considerable political, academic and media attention. The attention on young people in the United Kingdom is categorised by ‘respectable fears’, which Pearson (1983) described as the growing anxiety with regards to rebellious and threatening young people (Pearson, 1983). These ‘respectable fears’ have contributed to the expansion of the youth justice system and resulted in developments to mainstream youth justice services. The expansion and development of services in the financial climate has resulted in emphasis on developing effective and sustainable youth offending interventions in custody to reduce youth offending (Nevill and Lumley, 2011). Developing effective and sustainable interventions that enhance outcomes for children and young people have generally relied on output or outcome data, with limited importance placed on the wider long-term impact (such as employability, relationships, independence and emotional resilience). To understand impact, the views of children and young people are central; therefore, conducting research with focus on facilitating the active participation of children and young people in custody is important. Conducting research with children and young people is complex and challenging in any environment; however, in a custodial environment, the researcher will encounter further challenges. This post will explore the complexities and challenges of conducting research in this environment and the importance of experience in engaging children and young people.
Ethical questions are integral to any research, with particular importance in research with children and young people. The central ethical considerations for research cover: confidentiality and anonymity; voluntary informed consent; data protection and storage; and the safeguarding of participants. For conducting research with children and young people, such ethical considerations receive significant attention. However, another area that requires attention surrounds the researcher’s experience. Has the researcher worked with vulnerable children and young people? Does the researcher understand that relationships can develop in seconds? Does the researcher understand the impact of new people on the lives of participants? Exploring the researcher’s experience and knowledge of working with children and young people demonstrates the researcher’s experience and knowledge of the vulnerabilities of children and young people in this environment. Another area for consideration was the process for accessing a secure custodial environment for research purposes is challenging, particularly for research concerning the views of children and young people. Before entering a custodial environment, the researcher was required to complete training and a stringent vetting process and complete training. This process ensured the continued safety and security of children, young people and staff members.

Exploring the effectiveness and wider impact of services from the perception of children and young people are important for identifying “what works?” Collecting information on the perceptions of children and young people relies on the researcher developing appropriate data collection methods (e.g. interviews, questionnaire or observation). Before collecting data, the researcher must consider the power dynamics of conducting research with children and young people in custody. The researcher must ensure children and young people have a clear understanding of the research aims and objectives before consenting. To conduct research with children and young people, the researcher must consider the literacy age and level of understanding. This requires the researcher to understand the cohort of children and young people in the population to adapt the research material appropriately in order to ensure a clear understanding. Another issue the researcher must consider in conducting research with children and young people is the power dynamic. One method of addressing this power dynamic is by implementing child centred research methods based on the preferred communication methods of young people. Child-centred research methods may include the use of photographs, activities, diaries and worksheets (Barker and Weller, 2003). Considering child-centred research methods was important for research, however, recognising the age and position of young people participating in research was equally important. In conducting research with children and young people in custody, the researcher used traditional research methods (questionnaires, interviews and observation) with adjustments recognising the age and position of young people. This allowed the researcher to accurately capture the narratives of children and young people in custody.

Entering a custodial environment for the first time is daunting, but, entering a custodial environment with children and young people is an entirely different world.

References
1. Barker, J. and Weller, S. (2003) “Is it fun?” Developing children centred research methods. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 23(1/2), 33-58.
2. Hendrick, H., (2006) Histories of Youth Crime and Justice in Goldson, B. and Muncie, J. (2006) Youth Crime and Justice. London: Sage Publications.
3. Nevill, C. and Lumley, T. (2011) Impact measurement in the youth justice sector. [online] Available at: file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/99904661/My%20Documents/Downloads/Youth-justice-measurement-FINAL2%20(2).pdf. Accessed on: 9 September 2015.
4. Pearson, G. (1983) Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears. London: Macmillan.

Call for Papers – ‘thinking differently’ about prison reform

The BSC post graduate committee are hosing a series of ‘thinking differently’ events. The first in the series is about prison reform.

The event is 15th November in Liverpool, with Professor Joe Sim, Liverpool John Moores University, as keynote speaker.

Full event details can be found here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thinking-differently-about-prison-reform-tickets-28600460748

We are inviting students to submit an abstract to speak at the event. Abstracts must be no longer than 300 words and fit into the ‘Thinking Differently About Prison Reform’.

For any questions and to submit an abstract, please email jayne.price@liverpool.ac.uk. The deadline is 28th October, successful students will be notified by 4th November.

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Talking Points -Nathan Constable, the policing of mental health.

***Monday 7th November***

Our November BSC Talking Points discussion, hosted by anonymous tweeting and blogging UK police officer Nathan Constable, will focus on policing of mental health.
Nathan Constable is a serving police inspector in a UK constabulary. He has been tweeting and blogging anonymously for six years, commenting regularly on issues such as policing demand and police professionalisation, and is a finalist for the Best Blogging Police Officer in this year’s Police Twitter Awards.

Read about the reasoning behind Nathan’s annoymity here

If you would like some pre-reading then check out Nathan’s blog http://nathanconstable.wordpress.com (you can search for mental health related blogs) and Nathan suggests taking a good look through the work of @mentalhealthcop (twitter and blog).

See you on our Facebook group, Mon 7th Nov @8-9pm #GetInvolved

In the meantime, this commentary is worth a read: ‘I do much more than police work..’

[Image: Twitter/ ACC Paul Netherton – discussed here ].

 

Talking Points Summary – David Honeywell

This month David Honeywell hosted our monthly talking points debate in our Facebook group. David has kindly written this blog post in  response to the event.

Discussions on prisons are always a hot topic which is not surprising because everyone has an opinion on prison yet few understand what prison is for. The BSC forum discussion took place only several days after I had published an article in the conversation No wonder prisons are getting more violent about the rising prison population, violence and the government’s failure to implement recently promised prison reforms announced in the Queens speech earlier this year. I was pleased to see how popular such a discussion around prison could be and that I was able to create the right sort of questions that would ignite debate with comments being posted long after the discussion had closed.

Prison is a jungle where the survival of the fitness wins through and the weak are downtrodden. Because the responses came from fellow academics most of who support reform and rehabilitation – there wasn’t any resistance about the idea that people go to prison as punishment rather than to be punished. Unfortunately, the public by enlarge would disagree with most of us preferring life to mean life; that prisons are too soft and that prisoners go to prison to be punished in addition to losing their liberty.

Little knowledge of prison actually exists amongst the public and most who make claim that prisons are like holiday camps, have never actually been anywhere near a prison. The bulk of their knowledge comes from media reports that use low category prisons as a benchmark of what ‘prison’ is like. Rarely does the public see the physical harm that prisoners inflict on one another or indeed themselves. Never do they see the psychological harm that prison inflicts on prisoners. Most will never see inside a solitary confinement cell or feel the tensions that continually simmer within this pressure cooker environment.
Never will the media be able to photograph the pains of imprisonment or every day prison life.

My first question asking whether people are sent to prison as punishment or for punishment, created an immediate response that included answers such as prisons should be for both punishment and reform. My second question asked what the answer was to prison reform which received calls for more community focussed punishments including restorative justice whereby one person who has worked within this field argues that it is very affective. And there was an agreement that mental ill prisoners need mental health care as opposed to just punishment. Radical reforms for how women prisoners should be treated were called for including a ‘tailored approach that reflects the distinctiveness of their offending and their vulnerability’.

Finally I posed the question to the forum that if there was a possibility they may go to prison, what they would most fear. This was the most popular question and an ideal finale which created a lot of response. Surprisingly very few said they would fear possible backlash aimed towards their family members. This is a common oversight amongst offenders which shows how we go into survival mode when considering this bleak possibility. But most responses included fears of being away from family, violence, lack of control and space. All such responses confirm one of the most influential classic prison studies which was by Gresham Sykes in 1957. He talked about the pains of imprisonment all of which are still as relevant today.

Questions still remain when prison reforms will take place and what will happen to our prisons in the future.


Interested in this months talking points topic? The BSC PG committee are hosting a seminar on prison reform as part of their thinking differently series. details can be found below:

How can we understand the rise in prison violence? The first seminar of the new BSC Postgraduate Thinking Differently series, ‘Thinking Differently about Prison Reform’ 15 Nov in Liverpool http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-37698780

More details of the event, and call for papers, can be found on the events page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thinking-differently-about-p…

 

PhD Blog – The police and domestic abuse crime: positive steps but much more to be done

larissaThis weeks PhD Blog is from Larissa Povey, final-year PhD Candidate within the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research and Associate Lecturer in Criminal Justice at Sheffield Hallam University. Larissa’s PhD explores the impact of changes in UK criminal justice and welfare policies on the everyday lives of women at the social margins. Using a mixture of qualitative interviews, visual and ethnographic methods her study examines the lived experiences, perceptions and sense-making narratives of women who have been subject to multiple interventions from state agencies spanning both welfare and penal systems. Larissa hopes to make a contribution through using a feminist lens to explore the gendered character of social control and disciplining, texturing theoretical debates which often focus on men.

Larissa’s broad research interests lie in the areas of women and criminal justice, punishment beyond the prison, welfare policy, labour markets and social control.

PhD funding: Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship. This PhD is linked to the ESRC-funded “Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change” project (http://www.welfareconditionality.ac.uk/).

Contact: larissa.j.povey@student.shu.ac.uk

The police and domestic abuse crime: positive steps but much more to be done

As a PhD candidate researching women’s experiences of the criminal justice system and welfare reform, I was recently invited to take part in a Domestic Abuse Crime Scrutiny Panel for a national police agency. This got me thinking about the way we deal with this type of crime in England and Wales; alongside small steps in the right direction there are contradictory developments which thwart such advances, particularly broader shifts in social policy under austerity.

Based on efforts by the Crown Prosecution Service to show transparency and engage the local community in examining police work, the earlier scrutiny panels focused on hate crime; the first, piloted in West Yorkshire in 2004 focused specifically on race hate crime. The development of domestic abuse crime scrutiny panels followed and more recently we have seen panels focusing on cases of violence against women and girls.

Efforts such as these indicate that across the criminal justice system agencies are attempting to take domestic abuse (DA) crimes and violence against women and girls more seriously. Indeed, statistics from a recent Crown Prosecution Service report (2016: 1) show that it is “prosecuting and convicting more defendants of domestic abuse, rape, sexual offences and child sexual abuse than ever before”. Importantly, there has been an 11% rise in convictions for Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) crimes, a trend that has been seen over the past three years. Prosecutions of this nature currently account for almost 20% of the Crown Prosecution Service’ total case load.

While new panels provide encouraging indicators that the police want to improve the way that they handle DA and VAWG crime, things are not entirely rosy. For example, the Home Office does not gather official statistics on the number of women and girls killed through domestic violence, a vast oversight. We do know the number of women killed by men in the UK because of the work of one individual Karen Ingala Smith, CEO of nia (a domestic violence charity) who began Counting Dead Women in 2012, her efforts are now supported by Women’s Aid and has developed into the Femicide Census to record all cases of ‘the murder of women because they are women’ (Women’s Aid, 2016). These efforts show a year on year increase in the number of women dying, averaging two women per week, at the hands of a partner, ex-partner or family member.

On the one hand we have the highest recorded reporting and prosecutions for DA and VAWG crimes. On the other, we have an increasing number of women dying from this type of crime. So what are some of the reasons that might be contributing to this? Since 2010, we have seen swinging cuts to services under austerity. This includes large cuts to women’s refuges resulting in the loss of 17% of specialist refuges and a third of referrals being turned away. Police guidelines outline refuges as a key intervention in the effective protection of victims, so with fewer refuges and places for vulnerable women and children it is a no brainer that this may have a detrimental effect on victims’ ability to get themselves to safety.

Though prosecutions are up, these cases reflect a small proportion of the overall number of incidences reported. And there are new ways of committing these offences as seen in the proliferation of online abuse specifically using social media as a tool for stalking, harassment and control. Policing these new mechanisms of abuse take investment and resources, there is much work to be done and things are likely to get worse as we see continued cuts to police budgets meaning fewer specialist police.

Other reforms such as changes to legal aid have been felt particularly acutely by women, who will have little recourse to free legal aid. According to this report such changes “raise disturbing questions about the state’s failure to protect women, especially those at risk of – and those who have already experienced – domestic violence” (Mayo and Koessl, 2015: 9).

There are deeper, enduring structural inequalities which place women in a position of less power in relation to men, this legacy can be seen in the persistence of devaluing of social reproductive work, the gender pay gap, gendered labour, maternity leave policy to name just a few. It is this power imbalance that creates a breeding ground for domestic abuse which is about power and control. These inequalities will be made worse by ongoing reforms to both in-work and out-of-work benefits. Upcoming reforms are likely to worsen the financial situation of vulnerable women, particularly lone parents. These factors explain some of the reasons behind the statistics and we may see further increases in DA and VAWG crimes and dead women.