Edge Hill University lecturer, Sean Creaney, has helped unveil a new plan to give young offenders a voice in their punishment.
The strategy wants to ensure that all children in the youth justice system have the opportunity to help decide about their care and supervision once the courts have passed their judgement.
Sean, whose current PhD research is exploring how young offenders participate in what happens during their supervision or referral order, said: "It was an honour to be asked to comment on their strategy and speak at the convention. If young people are given a voice and provided with the opportunity to influence how a service is designed and implemented, it is more probable that the child will be ‘rehabilitated’ as they know what works for them.
"Participation has many benefits for the individual child. It not only increases levels of engagement and compliance with a form of intervention or programme but by being involved in the process the child’s self-esteem increases, making ‘motivation to change’ more likely.”
Sean believes that by listening to children and letting them decide some elements of their sentence the youth justice system will benefit from lower levels of violence and see increased motivation and respect amongst young people. He added: "There are challenges making greater choice over provision for young offenders a reality. Amongst some people there is a mentality that people who commit crime have forfeited their right to a voice.
"I welcome the Youth Justice Board’s strategy and specifically the ideas around more meaningful interventions with offenders who often lack the confidence to take part, might have problems in communicating and/or mistrust the intentions of adults.”
Action points within the strategy will now be rolled out across youth justice services with progress reported back to the Youth Justice Board every six months.