Improving Youth Justice: Reflecting on Our Shared Ambition


I was delighted to be asked to chair and contribute to this event which stands out from others of its kind by virtue of the stellar line-up of practitioners and policy makers in Youth Justice.  I’m humbled at the prospect of sharing the stage with key figures from the Ministry of Justice (Phil Douglas), the Youth Justice Board (Charlie Taylor), members of the Inspectorate of Probation, Education and Youth Offending Teams, prison governors and directors, together with key organisations such as the Care Leavers’ Association, and more.

As well as chairing the exciting programme of presentations by sector leaders, I will also have the opportunity to offer some of the key findings from my own work, specifically ‘A Sporting Chance’, the review of physical activity in youth and adult prisons that I undertook on behalf of the Ministry of Justice last year. I’ll summarise the recommendations I made in relation to the use of sports and physical activity in promoting heath, wellbeing, education and desistance from crime for the young people in our care across the secure estate.

Now is the time to be holding this event.

Our communities are fragmented, our public services are under-resourced and we are not doing enough to prevent children getting caught up in a precarious cycle of exclusion and offending. As Inside Government have rightly pointed out through the development of this conference, although rates of young people being taken into custody have decreased, the complex mental health and learning needs of those children being deprived of their liberty have become concentrated. I would add that violent and self-harming incidences within secure settings are also too frequent, and all of these issues - and many more - pose a greater challenge for those working in Youth Justice.

Inside Government are right to be bringing key figures together in order to make progress in our shared ambition to improve outcomes in youth justice. For me, that will mean working collaboratively, drawing on our developing evidence base, being bold, and supporting innovation. As the day’s chair, I hope this event can stimulate some positive debate, lead to a greater collective understanding, and inspire some tangible action. I look forward to hearing what my fellow panellists and delegates have to say.


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