The Home Affairs Committee, chaired by Keith Vaz MP, took evidence from seven young offenders through User Voice. Their contribution was highly valued and referred to around 20 times in their report assessing, and furthering, the policy development of government crime prevention strategies since Labour came to office in 1997.
Why User Voice?
User Voice was given this prestigious platform as one of its representatives challenged the Committee to look around them and take stock of the fact that young offenders, the group they were debating and intending to reach as a result of their consultation, were entirely absent from the consultation exercise, which instead focussed on policymakers and service providers.
Keith Vaz MP challenged User Voice to invite a group of young offenders to give evidence to the committee. A challenge User Voice was only too happy to take on!
One of the main difficulties expressed by the committee was the lack of availability of reliable evidence in this field. It therefore welcomed User Voice’s involvement and agreed with the importance of dialogue between policy makers and the “service users” themselves in making decisions about services.
The key messages from our ex-offenders were:
• their need for visible success stories to act as positive role models in communities,
• the ineffectiveness of the education system on children from deprived backgrounds,
• and the need for prisons to act less as areas for “storage people” by empowering detainees to change their lives once released.
As a consequence a Home Affairs Committee report was published, The Government’s Approach to Crime Prevention (Tenth Report of Session 2009-2010). The report highlights amongst other things, that despite the pressures on governments to be seen to act quickly, it is vital that the scoping, piloting and evaluation of programmes is undertaken in constant dialogue with young offenders, to make a positive impact on crime prevention. The report recommended that the Government should “...take account of the experiences of victims and offenders, such as the organisation User voice set up by former offenders for this precise purpose.”
For full report please follow this link