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Young people and 'risk'

Young people and 'risk'

Maggie Blyth
Enver Solomon
Kerry Baker
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  • Book Info
    Young people and 'risk'
    Book Description:

    Alongside the current media public preoccupation with high-risk offenders, there has been a shift towards a greater focus on risk and public protection in UK criminal justice policy. Much of the academic debate has centered on the impact of the risk paradigm on adult offender management services; less attention has been given to the arena of youth justice and young adults. Yet, there are critical questions for both theory - are the principles of risk management the same when working with young people? - and practice - how can practitioners respond to those young people who cause serious harm to others? - that need to be considered. The distinguished contributors to Young people and 'risk' consider risk not only in terms of public protection but also in terms of young people's own vulnerability to being harmed (either by others or through self-inflicted behaviour). One of the report's key objectives is to explore the links between these two distinct, but related, aspects of risk. Maggie Blyth is a member of the Parole Board for England and Wales and independent chair of Nottingham City Youth Offending Team. She also works independently as a criminal justice consultant. Kerry Baker is a researcher in the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford and also a consultant to the Youth Justice Board on issues of assessment, risk and public protection. Enver Solomon is Deputy Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, an independent charity affiliated to the Law School at King's College London.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-258-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
    (pp. iv-iv)
    Maggie Blyth, Enver Solomon and Kerry Baker
  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Enver Solomon and Maggie Blyth

    This book draws together the proceedings of a December 2006 seminar that examined a range of issues relating to young people and risk. The event was organised by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London with the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. It was funded and supported by the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) and the Parole Board for England and Wales.

    We decided to organise the seminar because there had been a number of high-profile cases that had focused widespread attention on the issue of risk and public protection.¹ The issue...

  3. 1 Risk assessment and risk management: the right approach?
    (pp. 7-24)
    Hazel Kemshall

    The ‘risk business’ has been described as one of the world’s largest industries (Adams, 1995), characterised by phenomenal growth and net widening. Crime management has been no exception, with risk forming a key ingredient of penal policy in recent years (see Kemshall, 2003 and 2006 for a full review). In the adult arena this has seen increased attention to the ‘community protection model’ (Connelly and Williamson, 2000), with an emphasis upon public protection sentencing, restrictive conditions in the community, and interventions led by risk (Wood and Kemshall, 2007). Within this paradigm, adults who offend have largely been characterised as ‘risk...

  4. 2 Risk in practice: systems and practitioner judgement
    (pp. 25-38)
    Kerry Baker

    This chapter considers how practitioners in criminal justice agencies make complex decisions about risk within the current highly charged climate of political and media concern about public protection. The aim is not to look simply at questions of procedure, for example whether practitioners complete assessments within the required timescales, as these are investigated elsewhere (HMIP, 2006c and 2006d), but to develop a richer discussion of how practitioners make difficult judgements about risk. In this analysis, ‘risk’ refers predominantly to the risk of harm that a young person may present to others (the general public, named individuals or staff) although many...

  5. 3 Young people and violence: balancing public protection with meeting needs
    (pp. 39-52)
    Gwyneth Boswell

    In recent years there has been much political talk of the need to ‘rebalance’ the criminal justice system in favour of victims of crime. This ethos was given expression in the White Paper Justice for all (Home Office et al, 2002) and in the subsequent 2003 Criminal Justice Act that introduced new, lengthy custodial sentences for the express purpose of public protection. The need for public protection is determined by an assessment of dangerousness by the Crown Court at the point of sentence. ‘Dangerousness’ is defined as ‘significant risk of serious harm to the public’; ‘serious harm’ is defined as...

  6. 4 Mental health, risk and antisocial behaviour in young offenders: challenges and opportunities
    (pp. 53-72)
    Sue Bailey, Robert Vermeiren and Paul Mitchell

    There is a significant overlap between the risk factors for offending, poor mental health and substance misuse and the number of assessed risk factors increases as a young person moves further into the youth justice system (Youth Justice Board, 2005b).

    For several reasons, high rates of mental disorders may be expected in young people in contact with youth justice services. First, prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders in community samples were shown to be around 15% (Roberts et al, 1998). Also, severe delinquency is common in the adolescent population, with about 5% showing an early onset and persistent pattern of antisocial...

  7. 5 Serious incidents in the youth justice system: management and accountability
    (pp. 73-84)
    Maggie Blyth

    Public opinion tends consistently to overestimate the scale and trend in offending as recorded in official crime data. This applies as much to offending among young people as it does to offending among adults. Over the last decade, youth crime has become highly politicised, resulting in soaring custodial figures and increasingly tough posturing by ministers over approaches to dealing with young people who commit crime. It is well documented elsewhere that, despite a stable or downward trend in offending by young people according to official figures (Audit Commission, 2004), there is a widespread view among the public that children and...

  8. 6 Working with young people in a culture of public protection
    (pp. 85-96)
    Mike Nash

    This chapter has two aims. One is to establish if there is such a thing as a culture of public protection and the other is to determine if this will impact upon the working practices of those involved in Youth Offending Teams (YOTs). A brief review of recent penal trends will set the context for the growth in public protection processes and cultures. This will then suggest ways in which criminal justice agencies, and key decisions, are affected by an increasingly risk-averse agenda. If it is accepted that public protection policies have brought about changes in criminal justice cultures then...

  9. 7 Never too early? Reflections on research and interventions for early developmental prevention of serious harm
    (pp. 97-112)
    Ros Burnett

    When in autumn 2006 the government introduced plans for intervening at the perinatal stage and in the babyhood of children growing up in dysfunctional families (Cabinet Office, 2006), media discussions raised the spectres of foetal antisocial behaviour orders (‘fasbos’), and electronic monitoring companies forcing their way into the homes of large families and unmarried teenage mothers in order to ‘tag’ their toddlers. The influence of research on recent strategies for ‘stopping it before it starts’ is plain to see. At a Downing Street seminar on social exclusion, Blair (2006) pointed out: ‘There is now a wealth of empirical data to...

  10. Conclusions
    (pp. 113-120)
    Rob Allen

    The contributions to this volume raise important policy questions in respect of three overlapping areas: the prevention of serious violent crime by early intervention with children at risk; the assessment of young people once they are in the criminal justice system; and the management and treatment of young offenders in the community and in institutions.

    As far as prevention is concerned, one main dilemma is the extent to which it is possible or desirable to target children for an intervention at an early stage in their lives, before they have committed a crime. Ros Burnett speculates on the prospect of...