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!

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 – 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.

PhD Blog – Considerations on recent legislation to combat ticket touting.

alessandroThis week’s PhD blog is by Alessandro Moretti, a final-year Criminology PhD student at Greenwich University. The subject of Alessandro’s thesis is black market ticket touting. He conducted ethnographic research to gain new knowledge in the strategies adopted by touts with the aim of contributing to the current debate on whether the practice should be regulated. This blog questions the extent to which recent legislation on the much-discussed practice of ticket touting offers effective consumer protection, particularly against fraud.

Alessandro offers some of his findings in this blog, through which he argues that attempts to protect the consumer have ultimately been futile. Alessandro’s independent, ethnographic research has thus far consisted of: 100 hours of observational fieldwork on touts outside venues; monitoring and participating in the secondary online market; and in-depth interviews with 25 sellers during a two-year period.

Contact Alessandro Moretti a.moretti@greenwich.ac.uk or Twitter @Moretti131

Protecting the consumer from what?

Ticket touting is understood to mean the buying and reselling of tickets for a profit.

Traditionally an activity for the “sheepskin-coat-wearing” characters loitering outside venues (Collinson, 2015), the black market of tickets has in the last decade expanded considerably into the world wide web (Jones, 2015). Most notably, this has been facilitated by “the big four” resale platforms Get Me In!, Stubhub, Viagogo and Seatwave (APPG, 2014).

The key word here is expanded, as in no way whatsoever have street touts ceased to operate. A large number of transactions also continue to occur on websites like Gumtree, or through social media. And yet, the first ticketing legislation to target the practice since 1994 (1) covers the big four and little else.

The obvious question is: what do consumers need protection from?

Professor Waterson’s recent review of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“CRA”) found that the most sensitive issue relates to the “(high) prices” of ticket resale (2016: 182). In the same review it was also asserted that: “…the consumer…above all else does not want to be a victim of fraud” (2016: 170).

High prices

The CRA was arguably introduced to increase transparency on online secondary ticketing facilities. The focus on requiring seat numbers to be published on resale listings, however, left questions around ticket prices unanswered.

A price cap has been strongly vouched for by Sharon Hodgson MP since 2010 (2), but, consistently with the government’s reluctance to interfere with free-market entrepreneurialism – an entrenched position held since the criminalisation of ticket touting beyond football was rejected in the 1990s (3) – the Bill was never ratified.

The Waterson review, published in May 2016, has once again advised against a price cap, this time on the grounds that it would be unlikely to be enforced, or that resellers may move abroad to get around such a law.

Given that not even the most basic requirement of publishing seat numbers has been enforced (Davies and Jones, 2016), can this be considered an acceptable rationale? And aren’t illegal resellers of football tickets already based abroad (such as Spanish platform Ticketbis, amongst others) to evade UK law?

The central element of the debate – the cost of tickets on the secondary market (4) – has, once again, been completely sidestepped.

Fraud

With regards to fraud, my research has led me to the following conclusion:

• Fraud does not occur in the places targeted by the legislation

The arrival of the internet has spawned countless opportunities for touts and others to exploit (CMSC, 2008). In the same way that traditional street touts expanded their repertoire into online resale, fraudsters who sell fake tickets on the streets are now able to exploit the “buzz” of a sell-out event online, too.

Bogus companies” created by “fly-by-night opportunists” (Sugden, 2002: 26) imitate the big four in both appearance and function. The difference is that the tickets on offer are either counterfeit or do not exist (see Christie, 2015 and Hopkins, 2016 on companies “Circle-Tickets” and “Getsporting”, amongst others).

This, in my view, is where online ticket fraud, estimated at £5.2m for the year ending October 2015 (Peachey, 2016), is primarily occurring – not on the big four. In addition, fraudsters still imitate touts on the streets. It is happening on Gumtree, Craigslist and Twitter, meaning the cost of ticket fraud is in fact much higher. Sadly, the CRA seems ineffective in all such instances of fraud.

Concluding thoughts

Whilst most critics insist that more should be done against online touts (Savage, 2016; Chapple, 2016; Jones, 2016), the problem, in my view, is that focusing primarily on the big four has neglected the true, historical nature of ticket touting, the link that exists between the internet and the street, and the opportunistic crimes that can spawn from it.

My research aims to show that, despite intensified calls on the government to protect consumers, recent legislation has been misdirected. It is not just a problem of enforcement; the legislation has targeted the wrong area, namely the “legitimate” online secondary market, and has ultimately left consumer protection as a mere afterthought, despite it being heralded as the CRA’s primary focus.

Footnotes
1. Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Legislation was introduced for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics but these were, of course, temporary measures for one-off events
2. Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmbills/013/11013.i-i.html
3. This statement from the parliamentary debate in April 1994 illustrates the point well: “At Wimbledon there are not two sides who will have a punch-up if someone’s favourite loses the match. There is no such problem at pop concerts, or at the Derby and other horse races. Although I am against touts making a profit out of those events, at least one can say that the market economy can prevail there” (emphasis added).
4. Additionally, a direct consequence of the high cost of tickets is that pockets of society are being priced out from attending events. A ticket tout, by targeting the more affordable tickets and reselling them at a premium, “undermines the whole point of subsidy” and “denies access to those who the tickets are aimed at” (Bennett, 2014).

References

All Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse (2014) Secondary Market Investigation: Putting Fans First. London: House of Commons Library.

Bennett, A. (2014) Royal Opera House warns culture secretary Sajid Javid over ticket tout support. Huffington Post 10 April 2014. Available from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/04/10/sajid-javid-ticket-touts-naive_n_5124008.html. Accessed 4 June 2016

Chapple, J. (2016) UK industry reacts to Waterson report. IQ Live Music Intelligence 1 June 2016. Available from http://www.iq-mag.net/2016/06/uk-industry-reacts-michael-waterson-secondary-ticketing-report/#.V1MGQMdllEJ. Accessed 4 June 2016

Collinson, P. (2015) Ticket prices will go in one direction due to government U-turn. The Guardian 31 August 2015. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2015/aug/31/ticket-prices-one-direction-thanks-government-u-turn. Accessed 4 June 2016

Consumer Rights Act 2015, c.5. Available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/15/part/3/chapter/5/enacted. Accessed 4 June 2016

Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2008) Ticket touting, Second Report of Session 2007-08. London: The Stationery Office Limited

Christie, S. (2015) Police fraud agency warns of surge in ticket fraud at start of festival season. The Telegraph 25 June 2015. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/money-saving-tips/11696458/Police-warn-of-surge-in-ticket-fraud-at-start-of-festival-season.html. Accessed 4 June 2016

Davies, R. and Jones, R. (2016) How the touts get away with bleeding fans dry. The Guardian 15 May 2016, Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/may/15/shady-world-of-the-ticket-touts. Accessed 4 June 2016

Hopkins, J. Rugby World cup spurs big rise in online ticket fraud: cost of fake tickets soars 55% to £5.2m. This is Money 21 March 2016. Available from: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3501482/Rugby-World-Cup-spurs-big-rise-online-ticket-fraud-Cost-fake-tickets-soars-55-5-2m.html. Accessed 4 June 2016

Jones, R. (2015) Are ticket resale sites just hi-tech touts without the sheepskin coats? The Guardian 28 February 2016. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/feb/28/ticket-resale-sites-hi-tech-touts. Accessed 4 June 2016

Jones, R. (2016) Ticket touts face licencing threat. The Guardian 26 May 2016. Available from http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/may/26/ticket-touts-review-licensing-enforcement. Accessed 4 June 2016

Lord Ashton (1994) HC Deb, cc 348-57, 13 April 1994. Available from: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1994/apr/13/sale-of-tickets-for-designated-football. Accessed 4 June 2016

Peachey, K. (2016) Football and rugby hit by ticket fraud. BBC News 21 March 2016. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35862010. Accessed 4 June 2016

Savage, M. (2016) Ticket sites ‘must do more to fight touts’. BBC News 26 May 2016. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36382463. Accessed 4 June 2016

Sugden, J. (2002) Scum airways: Inside football’s underground economy. London: Mainstream.

Waterson, M. (2016) Independent review of consumer protection measures concerning online secondary ticketing facilities. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/525885/ind-16-7-independent-review-online-secondary-ticketing-facilities.pdf. Accessed 4 June 2016

PhD Blog – Communication is key: Why does Communication in Youth Justice Matter?

 

As we resume our PhD guest blog series after the summer break, this weeks blog is from Gabriella Simak.
Profile_PictureGabriella is in the 3rd year of a PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Bangor University. Her research interests are related to youth justice policy, more specifically the use of restorative justice models in the current retributive framework of youth justice. Gabriella’s PhD is exploring how the speech, language and communication needs/difficulties affect restorative justice in the context of referral orders in England and Wales. Her project employs a mixed methods approach, including a wealth of data from interviews with YOT practitioners, Speech and Language Therapists, non-participant observation of Youth Offender Panel meetings, and case level quantitative data on young people sentenced to referral orders.
Gabriella has an MA in Comparative Criminology and Criminal Justice. Her dissertation focused on the implementation of Family Group Conferencing in Welsh Youth Justice Services, titled Youth Justice in Wales: Possibilities through the Family Group Conferencing Model.  Gabriella is originally from Canada, and completed her undergraduate degree in Criminology and Sociology at the University of Toronto – making her a truly international criminologist! This blog post showcases her PhD work to date. If you wish to contact Gabriella about her research, please email sop00f@bangor.ac.uk.
Communication is key: Why does Communication in Youth Justice Matter?

This study explored how communication impacts restorative justice measures in the context of referral orders, including whether reparation to the victim and to the wider community is possible for young people with communication difficulties in England and Wales.

Research questions:

  • How are speech language and communication needs (SLCNs) identified in Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) for young people on Referral Orders?
  • How do communication needs of young people affect the reparation process in Youth Offender Panel (YOP) meetings?
  • How young people’s SLCNs affect referral order outcomes?
    • Hypothesis: Young people with SLCNs are more likely to breach their referral orders than those without.

Speech, language and communication needs refer to “a wide range of difficulties related to all aspects of communication in children and young people. These can include difficulties with fluency, forming sounds and words, formulating sentences, understanding what others say, and using language socially” (Bercow, 2008: 13). Key research points to the difficulties young people with SLCNs face when engaging with services within the young justice system. Recent studies have estimates the prevalence of SLCNs in the young offender population to be up to 60% (Gregory and Bryan, 2007: 507), whereas 6% in the general population in the UK (Law, et al. 2010). Communication difficulties, such as lack of understanding, poor vocabulary and difficulties with expressive language have a negative impact on how young people’s behaviour is perceived by YOT (Youth Offending Team) practitioners (Gregory and Bryan, 2009: 8). Research shows that young people with low levels of language ability are likely struggle particularly with verbally mediated interventions (Bryan and Gregory, 2013: 360). Referral Orders were introduced by the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 and should operate on the restorative justice principles of responsibility, reparation and reintegration (Ministry of Justice, 2015: 10).

This project explored the impact on young people’s SLCNs on referral orders using a mixed methods approach. Twenty two YOTs with seconded Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) were identified and approached (Five in Wales and 17 in England). Participants included: YOT Case Managers, Referral Order Coordinators, Early Intervention Officers, Volunteer Community Panel Members (VCPMs) and seconded SLTs from a total of 16 YOTs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants in person, over the telephone and interview questions were available in questionnaire format for participants’ convenience. Non-participant observations of Youth Offender Panel meetings were undertaken, including initial and review panel meetings. Finally, quantitative case level data were collected from one YOT in Wales to answer the third research question.

Practitioners interviewed mostly agreed that there was a large prevalence of SLCNs in young people on referral orders and that communication is of great importance in referral order processes. Young people mask their SLCNs by adapting behaviour that may be perceived and misinterpreted as difficult by YOT practitioners. The two main themes emerging were SLT service provision and SLTs role within the YOTs and the second theme was practitioners effectively engaging and communicating with young people with SLCNs during the referral order process. There were differences of SLT service provision within individual YOTs in terms of the SLTs role, such as screening young people, referral to SLTs by YOT Case Managers, and whether the SLT was able to provide intervention for those young people with identified SLCNs. Similarities in the role of SLTs were training of YOT practitioners in SLCN awareness and engaging young people in interventions. SLTs had an important role of providing material for YOT practitioners and a consultancy role for practitioners to discuss particular cases. In Wales, there was a need for bilingual English and Welsh SLT service provision for those young people who are more comfortable using Welsh.

In terms of YOP observations, VCPMs’ level of experience in engaging young people greatly differed with more experienced volunteers engaging more effectively with young people during panel meetings. Volunteer panel members were provided information through the referral order report written by the YOT Case Manager, including the Asset assessment, which informed panel members’ approach to engaging young people in a dialogue. Reparation directly to the victim was affected by young people’s SLCNs in terms of their ability to express themselves both verbally and participating in reparative activities.

Just like any programme based on restorative justice principles, referral orders assume open communication between stakeholders. However, effective communication is lacking, a power imbalance is created which hinders reparation and restoration of the harm. Most interventions in referral order processes are verbally conducted, and require young people to understand and process complex information. Consequently identification and appropriate support of young people with SLCNs is of great importance in order to successfully complete referral orders, young people must be able to communicate with other stakeholders. Analysis of case level data on young people with SLCNs indicate that there is no significant relationship between young people’s SLCNs and their referral order completion/breach rates. Therefore the hypothesis was rejected.

 

References:

BERCOW, J., 2008. The Bercow Report A Review of Services for Children and Young People (0–19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. Nottingham, England: DCSF Publications.

BRYAN, K., FREER, J. and FURLONG, C., 2007. Language and communication difficulties in juvenile offenders. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 42(5), pp. 505-520.

BRYAN, K. and GREGORY, J., 2013. Perceptions of staff on embedding speech and language therapy within a youth offending team. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 29(3), pp. 359-371.

BRYAN, K., 2004. Preliminary study of the prevalence of speech and language difficulties in young offenders. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 39(3), pp. 391-400.

GREGORY, J. and BRYAN, K., 2009. Evaluation of the Leeds Speech and Language Therapy Service provision within the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme provided by the Leeds Youth Offending Team. Leeds% 20SLT% 20report% 20Jun% 2010a.pdf (accessed 12 December 2010).

LAW, J., GARRETT, Z. and NYE, C., 2010. Speech and language therapy interventions for children with primary speech and language delay or disorder (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (3), pp. 1-79.

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, 2015. Referral Order Guidance. United Kingdom: Ministry of Justice.

 

What now criminology? Anna Matczak

Anna Matczack is a PhD researcher and criminologist at London School of Economics and Political Science. She recently attended the BSC conference in Nottingham and has written this review. You can find the original review at Anna’s blog https://annamatczak.com/2016/07/11/what-now-criminology/, and contact her on twitter @MatczakAnia.
Ana also presented her poster at the BSC conference, take a look below:

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‘Everything starts at the crime scene’, said Professor Peter Squires in the first session of the British Society of Criminology conference, which I attended last week in Nottingham. So what is criminology really for? To answer this question Professor Squires put forward a number of stimulating remarks. The obvious function is to provide voices for the excluded but criminology must also remain critical in questioning authority and the power to punish. As all of the conference presentations demonstrated well, the criminological thinking in Britain has been informed by a variety of robust and interesting research. Nonetheless, according to Professor Squires, the purpose of this should not be to advance criminology as such but to have a say about the quality of justice in a given society. What the profession needs more are critical criminologists who acknowledge the broader context of crime and punishment and take the research evidence further.

The broader context of current criminology affairs was then discussed by two conference plenary speakers, Will Hutton and Professor Kelly Hannah Moffat. Will Hutton addressed, among other things, the fact that criminology should better accommodate the notion of inequality as its levels have become exceptionally dysfunctional. This observation was later interestingly echoed in a couple of sessions in which I participated. For example Dr John Moore’s presentation, Built For Inequality in a Diverse World: A Brief History of Criminal Justice showed brilliantly how important is to understand the origins of the criminal justice system, which was built on the premise of and destined for inequality; therefore criminal justice systems in general will probably never become the best mechanisms through which to achieve social justice. Furthermore, as we know there are different kinds of inequalities and Professor Harry Blagg’s presentation, Southern Theory and Southern Criminology: A Postcolonial Critique demonstrated how to maintain a critical stance towards the unequal production of criminological knowledge. Based on his observations related to the situation of indigenous populations in Australia, Professor Blagg said that the information from the ‘Global South’ becomes knowledge only if it is processed by the ‘Global North’. In the light of this highly pertinent argument, my own reflection would be that there is a significant imbalance in the knowledge recognition within the Global North itself, for example between Western and Eastern European countries.

The choice of the conference theme proved that criminology is capable of accommodating and discussing the notion of inequality. However it is still debatable whether the same applies to achieving practical outcomes, or in other words how to do public criminology well. A very interesting remark was made by a member of the audience after Will Hutton’s lecture – universities are institutions that are good at creating a sense of purpose and moral alignment but they are not good at creating conditions for moral actions. This point was played out in another session that I attended, entitled What is to be done about crime and punishment? Professor Roger Matthews, who chaired the session, made a rather strong introductory statement, saying that contemporary criminology has become theoretically weak and empirically dubious, and has no policy relevance and as a result is disentangled with the real world. Although this claim was then challenged by Professor Philip Stenning, who said that the problem lies in the political elites who are not listening, not in criminologists, in my view Professor Matthews’ opening comment was an interesting provocation that aimed to generate emotions, and possibly actions. Professor Roger Matthews’s point was that the contemporary research might be informative and interesting but lacks a tangible policy impact. To prove that research can be communicated differently he then introduced three panellists (who are also contributors to his new book, What is to Be Done About Crime and Punishment? Towards a ‘Public Criminology’) who presented fascinating and policy-focused papers on policing (Professor Ben Bowling), drug policy (Dr Caroline Chatwin) and youth gangs (Professor John Pitts).

The organization of the conference made it evident that there is an enormous willingness to engage with the wider public on the part of criminologists. Communicating criminological thinking in the form of blogging, tweeting, or poster presentations interestingly mirrored Professor Kelly Hannah Maffot’s plenary lecture, which made me rethink how criminologists have increasingly become involved in networked social activism. Nonetheless, as indicated by Professor Kelly Hannah Moffat, risk is constructed in a non-neutral way and the production of knowledge about crime in times of an information avalanche has begun to be constructed by new tech-savvy players – it is worth remembering that the profession of criminologists is only one of these players. Although we might strive for real and tangible policy outcomes, we also have to consider carefully how we should take our research to the next level.

On a more personal note, the conference took place in the shadow of the Brexit vote – a subject that appeared in almost every presentation and informal conversation. I might be a PhD candidate at a great university with promising career prospects. However since 24th June it has felt as if my identity has been limited to the ‘migrant other’. Attending the BSC conference somehow helped alleviate my disappointment in the referendum outcome and recreate a sense of belonging. I should not forget that Britain will always be the place where I gained my very first research experience, met inspirational academics and made a beginning as a criminologist. The conference experience reminded me of how much I have learnt and developed throughout my academic migrant years in the UK.

Whatever the future holds for me professionally, I promised myself to deeply cherish this thought.

The BSCPG Committee – going from strength to strength

Susie Atherton, Keele University

If you have been keeping up with our blog over the course of the BSC conference, you will see that Susie has offered some brilliant posts to update us with the key themes and messages from the conference proceedings. Here is another fantastic post from her, if you want to catch up with her previous posts you can find them here and here. Thank you Susie!

 

As an ex-chair of the committee, 2010-2012 (ish), I am so pleased to see the fine work which has gone on since my departure. When I took over, previous chairs had raised the profile of the BSC post-graduate group over the years, to have their own conference and website, and it was a valued voice for new PG students like me. To be part of it so early on in my PhD journey was exciting and at the time, developing the good work of my predecessors was helped by many others, on the journey with me and also established academics keen to pass on their wisdom and experiences.

 

Last year, in Plymouth, Professor Joe Sims was inspiring, celebrating the work of post-graduate students, telling them how valuable they are and how very important to criminology and social science. Having been out of loop since stepping down in 2012, I was so pleased to see how Rachel Morris and Anna Sergi had kept up the ethos and purpose of the BSCPG committee. Way back when I set up the Facebook and Twitter accounts, we just had a plan on how to best manage it and a hope that some members would find it useful. Since then, it has come on in leaps and bounds, now at 1,520 members and growing every week.

 

Now a new generation are taking things even further and ensuring that post-graduates in criminology (and related disciplines!) are part of the blogosphere, and seeing the opportunities of new technologies to generate debates, raise the profile of research and share experiences. I am certain for many students it is a lifeline – doing a PhD can be a lonely existence, even with the best efforts of university departments, and I hope students continue to value the work of the BSCPG committee. It is really heartening to see tweets from members such as Joe Payne (with a video!) thanking Clare Davis and her team for another great event, and I have to mention Nicola Harding for her excellent work on developing the blog and keeping it going. There is a bright future ahead for postgraduate students, and while sitting in my study and blogging away during #BSCConf2016 has been nice, I am excited to attend next year, hopefully as ‘Dr’, but that’s a blog for another day….

 

 

BSC Conference 2016 – Inequalities in a diverse world

Today is the first day of the British Society of Criminology conference for 2016 ‘Inequalities in a diverse world’. This year the conference is being held in Nottingham, and postgraduates are part of the main conference, with a dedicated morning for postgraduates starting today at 9am with a free breakfast!

Claire and the postgraduate committee have organised a brilliant morning today which will be very useful for postgraduates attending the conference. This includes:

Postgraduate Plenary:Peter Squires, University of Brighton
‘Criminology on a Mission: Difficult Issues and Awkward Questions’

 

Postgraduate Panel sessions:

Mark Simpson, Teesside University and David Best, Sheffield Hallam University -Networking and Conference Skills
Peter Squires, University of Brighton and Helen Jones, British Society of Criminology
– Dissemination, Media and Impact
Steve Tong, Canterbury Christ Church University and Victoria Silverwood,
Birmingham City University
-Building your Academic CV
Thomas Sutton, Routledge Books
Getting published: An introduction for early career academics
and
Jacquelyn Fernholz, Routledge, Taylor and Francis
Publishing in academic journals.

You can look through the conference proceedings here.

Today at least two of our postgrad’s are giving oral presentations, and they have both also contributed to our blog.

Jayne Price, University of Liverpool, is in today’s first session A.1 ‘Perspectives on youth justice’ 15:15-16:45 (LT4, Level 1 and 0 access). You can read her blog post here.

‘Exploring pathways and transitions between juvenile and adult penal institutions’
And

Charlene Crossley, Manchester Metropolitan University, is in today’s last session B.15 ‘Young people, Violence and Homicide’ 17:00-18:30 (LT9 Level 0). Read her blog post here.

‘Here. Me. Now.: The goals and aspirations of young people living in communities labelled as gang affected’

If you are at the conference and are able to, please go along to show them some support and ask some questions/ give feedback. Don’t forget, we have some brilliant poster submissions from postgraduates, please do make sure you get a chance to check them out.

** Are you a postgraduate presenting at the conference this year? email me your details nicola.harading@stu.mmu.ac.uk, and I will also feature you on the blog **

EU Referendum Results Special

A Letter from the BSC Postgraduate Committee

1st July 2016

So here we are. The UK has decided and voted out. We are part of a generation that has never known a Britain not part of the European Union. This is unprecedented change, unsettling times.

Our job as criminology postgraduates is research; learning, challenge, discovery. And there is certainly much to learn about the process and outcome of the EU referendum.

These are uncertain times. But let’s be clear. To all postgraduate students of criminology, whoever you are, wherever you are from, however you voted – the postgraduate committee is your space, your community. Our focus remains inspirational criminological scholarship, and we will continue to support, encourage and celebrate the very best of postgraduate research.

A selection of criminology postgraduate students share their opinions of the implications of the Brexit vote on criminal justice in the UK.


Dominic Willmott, Doctoral Student from the University of Huddersfield, searches for optimism beyond the EU referendum and offers a researchers guide to the impact of leaving the EU on Criminal Justice in England.

Despite voting to remain amid fears of what leaving might mean for the national security of this country and the possibility of tarnished relationships with other EU states in the event of such threats, I can’t help but search for any positives for our criminal justice system. Is there anything that may actually lead to change for the better I ask myself? Maybe greater internal governance may make for more favourable human rights laws akin to UK value systems. Maybe the redistribution of EU financial contributions may provide a greater source of money to ensure more police officers on the street or order within overcrowded prisons. Maybe a refocusing of efforts and resources locally will actually mean the research advancements we postgraduate researchers make surrounding our criminal justice issues will begin to be noticed. Optimistic though it may seem, perhaps the change our research argues for and scientifically evidences may start to become a reality. Implemented in ways that lead to not only greater social justice but a fairer due process where treatment of those accused, convicted, released and even victimised is higher up the political agenda. Without the benefit of hindsight these ‘maybe’s’ are perhaps nothing more than just that. A list of possibilities in a sea of uncertainty. One thing that is however certain, is the need now more than ever for home grown scientific research surrounding how our criminal justice processes will cope with such monumental changes to the future of our country. They wanted a Brexit – they got it – now we as a community of researchers must raise to the challenge of sustaining UK independence and growth.

Teaching fellow Susie Atherton from Keele University questions what will happen to the reinvestment in justice following the result of the EU referendum.

In 2010, the cross party House of Commons Justice Committee (HOCJC) recommended a re-investment in justice to tackle high re-offending rates, mis-informed perceptions of community sentences and the complexity of the criminal justice system, with competing goals and priorities. Since then, new approaches in problem solving and restorative justice have been embraced, celebrated and then disregarded in favour of a new way to ‘transform rehabilitation.’ Whilst these reforms have been widely criticised, from with the conservative government and beyond, they have occurred alongside cuts in public spending, shifting the priorities of many police services away from neighbourhood policing, and a sense of the criminal justice system returning to its function to punish, deter and symbolise the authority of the law. The HoCJC recommend ‘pre-habilitation’ as a more ‘prudent, rational, effective and humane use of resources’ (2010:6), which also needed a greater commitment to tackling social exclusion, disadvantage, substance misuse and investing more in education and mental health services.

But, today 52% of the UK voted to leave the EU, and if we do indeed continue with this, the call for re-investment in justice and public services, already being overridden by austerity measures, could be ignored once again. There is another lost opportunity, in what we can and should learn from our European neighbours who manage their justice system without overcrowding and increasing levels of violence in prisons, and who are able to demonstrate significantly lower re-offending rates. Today, we can only say at best the status quo will continue, at worst, staff, prisoners, victims and citizens will be at further risk from a system simply unable to cope with the pressure, let alone offering anything meaningful to take place in reforming offenders, repairing harms and keeping communities safe.

PhD student Anita de Klerk from the University of Salford discusses the role of the media in the rising levels of violence since the EU referendum.

Since the EU referendum there have been a shocking number of incidences of violent, hateful ‘anti-immigrant’ crimes and stories being told in both the media and on social media networks. Reports have detailed how British citizens, and non-British citizens alike, have been told to go back from where they came from based on the colour of their skin or ancestral decent. The Brexit campaign was labelled as a “campaign of hate” by Sadiq Khan during the final televised debate before the referendum, but it is not Brexit that has created the platform from which the racists and xenophobes are now expressing their vile positions. The racists and the xenophobes existed long before the debate even started. It is the printed media that have given rise to the hate fuelled attacks on people and it is they who need to take responsibility and repair the damage they have caused.

No matter what side of the debate you were on, you cannot argue against the fact that both sides only offered uncertainty and misinformation and the media ran with whatever line they could to sell their papers. So far have the printed press fallen from the reality of what is acceptable and responsible to inciting violence to the point that now even murder is tolerable. In Dan Hodges’ column in the Daily Mail on Sunday the headline reads “Labour MUST Kill vampire Jezza”.

Nobody expects a member of the Labour or Conservative Party to take this seriously and organise to assassinate Jeremy Corbyn. However, there are lone ‘would be attackers’ who may just see this as an opportunity or believe that this is their duty. Ideologically motivated attacks are not new and are on the rise. It is not even 5 years ago that Anders Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway in support of fascism. Since then there have been numerous attacks throughout the ‘civilised’ West, the last of which was the Orlando Massacre where Omar Mateen opened fire and killed 49 people and injured many more, just over two weeks ago.

We need to start recognising and talking about the rise in ideologically motivated attacks by capitalism’s disaffected; individuals who are estranged from society by various capitalist channels like racism, Islamophobia, class and every other form of discrimination who turn to revenge their disaffection on those around them. Their revenge is then justified by the ideology that offers promises of an alternative to their disaffection. Our heritage under capitalism is poverty, suffering, racism, homophobia and disaffection, etc. We choose the ideology that best offers us hope, regardless of how ridiculous or hurtful it may seem to the next person. Murder is not a solution it is a crime as is hate inspired violence. It is time to investigate the inciters of violence and hold them accountable.

Gabriella Simak, PhD candidate from Bangor University, considers the impact on human rights in the context of criminal justice.

First, the UK will no longer be bound by the European Commission of Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Human Rights Act 1998 was based on the European Convention of Human Rights and enshrined basic human rights and freedoms such as the right to life. So the question then becomes: will the HRA be repealed completely? Technically then, the death penalty could be brought back as a form of punishment as the UK has no other legislation which protects people’s right to life and fundamental freedoms that the ECHR protects.

The UK will no longer be signatory of any of the EU treaties upon a full exit from the EU, which means the UK will not have the right to issue a European Arrest Warrant, which means the UK will not be able to request extradition of offenders from EU member states. As for minors, EU member states will no longer be able to refuse the extradition of minors to the UK under the Mandatory Grounds for Refusal and the UK will not be able to request extradition of minors from EU member states, as England and Wales (10) and Scotland (8) have the lowest age of criminal responsibility in the EU.

Finally, the UK will no longer have to protection and benefits of the Europol, which means it will no longer benefit from joint law enforcement services, combating terrorism, trafficking in human beings, sexual exploitation of women and children, cybercrime and organised crime, including sharing of intelligence and evidence Article 88 of The Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. As well, UK nationals will no longer be able to take their cases to the European Court of Justice, which oversees and regulates the legality of the acts of the EU member states.

Masters Student Madeleine Hughes, University of Kent, also reflects upon the impact leaving the European Union will have upon human rights legislation, appealing for humanity in political decision-making.

As I attempt to make sense of the countries decision to leave the European Union I cannot help but reflect on the impact that ‘Brexit’ will have on our human rights. Will our exit from the EU result in the Conservatives pressing ahead with their plan to repeal the Human Rights Act and to introduce their UK Bill of Rights? And if they do what impact will this have on the rights of our prisoner population?

My research focuses on problems faced by our imprisoned population, so I am keenly aware that prisoners’ rights are not a subject that elicits sympathy. It appears to me that, in some part, the impetus for many to leave the EU is borne from a desire to prevent rights being given to those who are deemed to be ‘undeserving’ and to protest against perceived dictates from the European Court of Human Rights. Human Rights are often seen as something that only benefits ‘others’; an argument postulated by the Leave campaign when claiming that the UK is inundated with foreign criminals who are ‘protected under EU human rights laws’ . But those who denounce human rights in this way are missing the point, for them to be human rights they must apply to all citizens not just those deemed worthy of them.

For Winston Churchill, ‘…the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country’. I would implore the politicians before they repeal the Human Rights Act to consider these words, because by failing to consider the rights of all of our citizens, including those who are imprisoned, politicians endanger the rights of us all.

Finally, PhD Candidate Adam Westall from Manchester Metropolitan University, appeals for us to ‘just do right’ – reminding us that, during times of change and uncertainty, it is the way we treat each other on a day to day basis that promotes security and social justice.

‘Great’ Britain, as we are officially titled is not looking so ‘great’ at the moment.  In the immediate aftermath following the decision to leave the EU, we appear to be more divided and less ‘great’ than we have ever been.  We are split politically in terms of our political parties being at war with each other, without (in my opinion any of them being able to run the country), we are divided in terms of class with significant differences in opinion between the less wealthy communities and those in the ‘middle and upper’ classes; and we are divided geographically with Scotland and Northern Ireland expressing wishes to leave the not so ‘United’ Kingdom.

So what does this mean for our security and maybe our safety?  Nationally and politically only time will tell, but individually, well the answer to this question lies in the streets and towns of the United Kingdom, it starts with us and our communities.  Over the next few years there will be change, both good and bad.  There may be racism and hurt along with lies and mistruths, which will affect how secure we feel.  There may also be bias and upset towards politicians, political parties or even our neighbours.  There doesn’t have to be.  This after all should never have just been about law making, immigration or the NHS.  Let us use this opportunity to look at things a bit different.  Start by doing right, saying hello or helping each other out a little, don’t let what happens on the world stage affect what happens on our streets.  This starts in the street, driving the car or popping to the shops, this is what matters.  We do not need to be a divided Britain despite leaving ‘the club’, we just need to simply ‘do right’ by each other.

 

Join the BSC PG mailing list

Hello everyone

We’re trying to help facilitate regular and meaningful communication within the postgraduate criminology community, but understand social media may not be everyone’s preferred choice.  If you would like to receive information from our new Jiscmail account, please use the following link: www.jiscmail.ac.uk/BSC-POSTGRADUATES

If you haven’t used it before or are unsure about what it is, Jiscmail is a place where you can subscribe to mailing lists from different organisations.  To subscribe to our list you can either use your existing Jiscmail account (if you have one), set up a new account (if you don’t), or use your institutional log in.

With best wishes

Claire, Nicola and Sarah