User Voice - Only Offenders Can Stop Re-Offending

AUGUST DISTURBANCES: YJB commission User Voice to run consultation with Young People

Much has already been said about the people involved and the underlying causes of the disturbances across the UK in August this year. This is not surprising: the events were frightening and resulted in five deaths, at least 16 injuries, the loss of people’s homes and businesses and damage totalling millions.

Police and court statistics provide some information about age breakdown and geographical spread. However many wider assumptions have been made – about previous criminality, the role of gang culture, race relations, policing, poverty and inequality – without detailed knowledge or talking to those involved.

It is in this context that the Youth Justice Board has asked User Voice to undertake a consultation with some of the young people who were involved in the August disturbances and who have since been sentenced to a community sentence or to custody for their role.

In addition the Youth Justice Board has asked User Voice to undertake consultation with young people who have a similar profile who did not get involved in areas which face similar pressures to those where disturbances occurred.

The Youth Justice Board’s purpose in doing this project is to:

• Bring the voice and experiences of these young people into the public debate;
• Provide evidence about the different characteristics and motivations of those young people who got involved;
• Explore whether there are identifiable reasons why trouble did not escalate elsewhere where similar issues and characteristics were present; and
• Inform the Youth Justice Board’s work going forward and the broader policy debate.

Taken as a whole, the project aims to provide information about:

• The young people’s thoughts on the disturbances in general;
• Details of the young people's involvement, including why they got involved, and who with;
• Contextual information (views and experience of family, education, training, employment, etc).

User Voice will work in partnership with Durham University, which will provide methodological advice and guidance. This area of the partnership working from the university side will be led by Professor Graham Towl, Deputy Warden at Durham University.