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Involving young people is essential for the future of the youth justice system

By Pippa Goodfellow, Policy Programmes Manager at Nacro

Nacro’s Beyond Youth Custody (BYC) programme aims to help young people turn around their lives by ensuring the right resettlement services are in place for them in custody through to the community. A fundamental principle underpinning our approach is the importance of giving young people with lived experience a voice – because nobody understands the challenges better.

BYC frame workshop 1

In September 2015 Charlie Taylor was asked to lead a departmental review of the youth justice system for the Ministry of Justice. In order to feed young people’s views and experiences into the review Nacro, along with Clinks and Peer Power, organised two consultation events for young people who had been involved in the justice system, attended by Charlie Taylor and his team.

The young people involved voiced a unanimous ‘NO!’ when asked if those with experience of the CJS are listened to and have their voices heard, both at the individual level and in developing strategy. We therefore urged the youth justice system to do much more to listen to and act upon the views and experiences of children and young people. As one young person asserted:

‘Make sure you get our voices heard and actually take them into account so that it makes a difference to people’s lives.’

Taylor’s final report was published in December 2016, together with the Government’s response. In partnership with Nacro and Peer Power, Clinks today publishes a response to both reports.

Capturing the views of young people and sharing decisions with them is vital if we are to have a truly distinct and child-centred youth justice sector. Over the coming months we will be working to further highlight the importance of improving engagement with young people and supporting the implementation of the YJB’s participation strategy. We will continue to ensure that young people’s voices are at the heart of our work and we are keen to work with partners who are committed to this vision for the youth justice system of the future.

If you are interested in youth justice and would like to find out more about Nacro’s ongoing work in this area, or to access resources for practitioners, please visit the Beyond Youth Custody website: