Project

Achieving Children First and Children's Rights

Goal: This project focuses on how Children First is being developed and applied in Wales and other devolved UK nations. Also, and critically, the project seeks to understand how children's rights, notably as per the UNCRC, are influencing and creating change in 'justice' related practice that is directed towards children.

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Project log

Kevin Haines
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Restorative justice has become a core element of much youth justice policy and practice internationally. Within the UK, it has been incorporated into several aspects of the youth justice system, notably through new police cautioning procedures and referral orders. In this chapter we critically analyse restorative approaches to youth justice, focusing on the UK, and question how they fit within a system that attempts to deliver ‘justice’ for children. We start by looking at definitions of restorative justice before considering some examples of restorative approaches, how they have been incorporated into policy and practice and the evidence as to whether such schemes achieve their objectives. We then move on to question how restorative justice is located within traditional and punitive models of justice and how the needs of children are incorporated into restorative approaches.
The multi-agency, multiple-intervention Promoting Prevention initiative to prevent youth offending in Swansea was evaluated with a computer-based interactive questionnaire with five hundred and eighty young people (aged eleven to eighteen years). Results indicate that multiple exposure to risk factors within the family domain significantly increases the likelihood that a young person will become involved in school exclusion, drug-taking and offending, whilst exposure to multiple protective factors decrease the likelihood of these problem behaviours. The evaluation process indicates that Promoting Prevention's cross-cutting and consultative methodology is an empowering and engaging way of targeting family-based interventions.
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This is a report following the evaluation of 'Dads Can', an initiative developed by Monmouthshire Housing Association.
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The minimum age of criminal responsibility, as currently established within England and Wales, remains ten years of age. Despite criticism of the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the Westminster Government is unwilling, in spite of research evidence and growing distance between its and international visions of an acceptable threshold, to countenance change. Drawing upon the views of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and the activities of devolved administrations within the UK, this article explores the need for change to be made to the minimum age of criminal responsibility and considers how holistic approaches, based upon diversion and rights respecting appropriate interventions can create transformative outcomes for children who come into contact with the law.
Kevin Haines
added 2 research items
The Risk Factor Prevention Paradigm (RFPP) has become increasingly influential upon government responses to youth offending. This paper critically evaluates `evidence-based' risk-focused research and prevention that coalesces around the RFPP. We highlight the significant issues that surround defining and measuring risk factors, difficulties in interpreting risk factor evidence, the `psycho-reductionism' of much risk-focused research, implementation problems regarding early intervention and methodological debates around evaluating `what works' in risk-focused crime prevention. A discussion of the promising, progressive nature of the RFPP is tempered by an evaluation of the practical and political concerns that impact upon the paradigm.
What is the future for youth justice in England and Wales? In a current climate of divergence, normlessness and local variations, we explore reform recommendations and the impact of economic austerity on local Youth Offending Teams: a retraction of support/services, yet increasing oversight by non-specialist managers. Four emerging youth justice delivery structures are identified, followed by an assessment of what does not work in practice – punishment, system contact, treatment and offender-focused interventions. We conclude that ‘what might work’ to progress youth justice is expert analysis, specialist youth workers and Children First principles in a coherent, flexible national policy context.
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This is a presentation made to the Institute of Applied Studies, based at Loughborough University for a youth justice and children's rights conference in June, 2019.
 
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This project focuses on how Children First is being developed and applied in Wales and other devolved UK nations. Also, and critically, the project seeks to understand how children's rights, notably as per the UNCRC, are influencing and creating change in 'justice' related practice that is directed towards children.
 
Private Profile
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This article draws upon research undertaken in South Wales to understand children’s views concerning what it means to be a ‘victim’ of crime and their experiences, in that context, of engaging with the criminal justice system. Significantly, and moving beyond traditional policy and service provision concerns, child participants argued passionately that not only did adults fail to provide them with appropriate advice and support, but that their understandings of victimhood were inaccurate. Rather, children articulated an almost zemiological understanding of ‘harm’ which was the basis for an alternative way of understanding what it was to be a ‘victim’. Furthermore, children suggested that they were not taken seriously by an adult-led criminal justice system and that the operation of that system did not address their needs. Reflections are offered in this article concerning children’s views, and the profound implications that their alternative discourse pose for criminal justice policymakers and practitioners.
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This is the response of the Swansea Youth Justice Team to the consultation regarding draft UN General Comment No. 24: Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility, January 2019
Whilst Article 12 of the UNCRC states that young people have the right to participate in making decisions and that their views should be heard, this does not always occur. Especially in the context of policy development and service delivery, young people, despite wanting to participate, are often not able to influence decisions that affect them. This article, drawing upon research undertaken in Swansea, challenges the disparity between the rhetoric of participation and its lived reality for young people. In particular, the article offers new ways for research to be undertaken in partnership with young people to enable their participation rights to be realised, especially at a local level.
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The Swansea Bureau is an innovative initiative designed to divert young people out of the formal processes of the Youth Justice System. The Swansea Bureau extends beyond simple diversion grounded in minimal or non-intervention and into tackling the underlying causes of youth crime through mechanisms that normalise youth offending and promote prosocial behaviour, children's rights, youth participation and the engagement of both parents/carers and the local community. Inter-agency working is pursued in a political, strategic and operational context of viewing young people as 'children first, offenders second'. This article discusses the development of the Bureau and explores how this child-orientated model is beginning to yield positive results in terms of decreases in first time entrants into the Youth Justice System and reductions in reconviction. The Bureau process has also elicited widespread positive qualitative feedback from key stakeholders regarding its engagement with Welsh national policy, parents/carers and the children's rights agenda. Crown Copyright
"You're just saying we should let them off!": this view, offered by a member of the public when plans for rights-based, early intervention and prevention approaches to youth crime were mooted in Swansea in 2008/2009 is still arguably current. In fact, and exacerbated by the resource strains that are placed on public services by austerity measures, the 'luxury' of early intervention and prevention (without the added unpopular gloss of children's rights) has led some to conclude that non-punitive and arguably forward looking approaches should be abandoned (or at least relegated to a secondary position). There is an echo of Blair's mantra, "Tough on crime..." – but what though about the causes of crime? Whilst the views above may represent certain aspects of debate concerning youth justice, our research suggests that, perversely, populist statements are contrary to reality. Through a panel session, children’s rights orientated research which is coordinated through Swansea University's Innovative Youth Justice Research Team will be presented and critiqued. In particular, tensions associated with presumptions concerning early intervention and prevention will be focused upon, and the reality that a rights-needs-voice-appropriate intervention-provision model is actually diminishing criminogenic needs