Beyond Youth Custody

Criminal Justice Alliance conference – What should an agenda for the new government look like?

18 March 2015 | Tagged with the theme:

The first ever Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA) conference took place in March and brought together members of the CJA, practitioners, policy makers and other criminal justice stakeholders to consider: ‘what should an agenda for the new government look like?’

Presentations, workshops and Q&A sessions gave delegates and speakers the opportunity to review which elements of the current criminal justice system are effective and to discuss how the new government could achieve a fairer and more effective system. Highlights from the day included:

  • looking at how Nordic countries regulate prison populations
  • hearing about desistance research and the impact for those working with offenders
  • finding out how sentencing and courts can take a more holistic, problem solving approach.

A strong message that ran throughout the day was the need to base debates on crime and justice – particularly about the use of custody – on rational evidence. By moving away from rhetoric about being ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ on crime and using opportunities presented by the current period of austerity, more cost-effective and evidence-based solutions can be achieved to prevent crime and reduce reoffending.

Workshops provided delegates with the opportunity to debate and share knowledge about specific issues. Topics included desistance, justice reinvestment, restorative justice and the gateway to criminal justice.

Beyond Youth Custody delivered a workshop on resettlement of girls and young women with colleagues from Pecan’s Moving On programme. Those who attended the workshop looked at three case studies which explored some of the issues that young women may face on release from custody. Delegates then suggested what a new government could do to support the resettlement of young women

Proposals included:

  • Developing more joined-up ways of meeting individual needs by facilitating multi-agency working and better information sharing between agencies
  •  Ensuring that needs are assessed and spending is available and flexible enough to be targeted at those particular needs
  • Allocating resources to services which can intervene earlier, based on the growing body of evidence about early intervention. Issues such as mental health and substance misuse should be dealt with in the community as much as possible
  • Clearer laws that make it easier for women to find out about their rights around immigration status, benefits, housing and other entitlements.

For a more detailed discussion of a gender-sensitive approach, download Beyond Youth Custody’s Resettlement of girls and young women – roundtable briefing.

Resources from the conference, as well as podcasts of the presentations, will be shortly available on the CJA website.

The Moving On programme is a one-to-one mentoring project which supports women through the transition from prison to community. Watch this short video, to find out more about the Moving On programme.


CJA conference logo for news piece

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