Researching Healthcare Availability for Probation Clients: An Illustration of Methodological Challenges and Lessons in Surveying Organisations

Published: 25/09/2019

This article critically reflects on the methodological approach used in a multi-method study of healthcare provision for probation service clients in England. The study involved gathering data from a range of large criminal justice and health organisations. Drawing on the literature and using learning from this study as an example, we address two central questions which evolved during the research: why was it more difficult to gain access in some organisations than others, and what methodological strategies might best improve engagement with research in the future? We discuss gatekeeping, and the impact of organisational resources, culture, responsibilities, change and objectives on engagement with research. We make recommendations for future methodological approaches to address these challenges, which are relevant to researchers in any discipline trying to engage organisations in research.

Developing Community Courts with Restorative Justice in Ireland

Published: 08/07/2019

In 2007 the Irish National Crime Council recommended that community courts should be established in Ireland, located in the inner city of Dublin, to deal with quality-of-life offences. In 2009 the final report of the National Commission on Restorative Justice recommended that restorative justice be legislated for, and introduced nationally in the criminal justice system in Ireland, by no later than 2015. Now, in 2019, we are still awaiting the introduction of community courts and the national rollout of restorative justice. Some progress, however, has been made in both areas. In 2014 the Minister for Justice announced that a pilot scheme would be established in Dublin, through which a community court would be established. Close monitoring and evaluation would determine whether community courts should then be rolled out on a national level. Several restorative justice schemes around the country have been expanded since the publication of the final report of the National Commission on Restorative Justice (2009), and a small but dedicated restorative justice movement is developing in Ireland. This paper argues that the rollout of restorative justice should coincide with the development and rollout of community courts in Ireland, and that community courts should contain an element of restorative justice. It also argues that the recent expansion of restorative justice schemes should be allowed to continue independently of the development of community courts in order to help facilitate a national rollout of restorative justice in the Irish criminal justice system.

The Truth About the Children’s Care System, the Links Between Care and Custody and the Role of Alcohol in Child Neglect

Published: 23/05/2019

On 19 March 2019, Sir Martin Narey gave his inaugural address on being appointed Visiting Professor at the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) at Manchester Metropolitan University. In this, he reflected on his life and career in the Prison Service, Barnardo’s and roles for Government since retirement. In doing so he commented on the links between alcohol, imprisonment and the care system. This paper reproduces this inaugural address.

CALL FOR PAPERS: ‘20 years since Macpherson’: A British Journal of Community Justice special issue on racism and hate crime

Published: 28/03/2019

The Macpherson report, also known as the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, was published in February 1999. The ‘unprovoked’ racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, and the subsequent failures of the police investigation, led to ‘70 recommendations aimed at “the elimination of racist prejudice and disadvantage and the demonstration of fairness in all aspects of policing.”’. These recommendations included those aiming at openness and accountability, a sharpening of focus through the definition of a ‘racist incident’, proposals for the reporting, investigation and prosecution of racist crimes, support for victims and witnesses, and training for police staff in response to ‘institutional racism’. After 20 years, the landscape has developed – with new legislation, practices, organisations – and so the time is ripe for an assessment of hate crime, institutional racism, and the British response in 2019.

This special issue of the British Journal of Community Justice will examine current and potential future developments in hate crime and institutional racism. The journal is policy and practitioner as well as scholar focused, so writing will be aimed at this wider audience, as well as including writing by policy-makers and practitioners. The special issue will not reheat past debates, through thinking about whether all crime is hate crime, whether additional punishment for hate crimes are justified, or whether state bodies are or can be institutionally racist. We believe there is perhaps more fertile ground in thinking about the processes of crime and justice, from victim, victim services, criminal justice system and perpetrator. This, of course, may bring in other forms of conflict or problems by the backdoor, as victim/CJS/perpetrator relationships may shift from hate-related to not.

We therefore call for abstracts or outlines of papers from prospective contributors that address the broad theme of developments since Macpherson, in the UK or with comparison to elsewhere. Suggestions of potential themes are given below, but these are not restrictive.

Please send abstracts or outlines of up to 200 words to Gavin Bailey and Kris Christmann ( and by April 26 2019. Alternatively, do get in touch if there is an idea you would like to discuss.

Potential themes:

- How have police forces changed, both in terms of those recruited, and in their training and practice, since Macpherson (i.e. are changes more presentational/expressive than real – performance, framing, etc. )?
- How have other parts of the CJS changed in this period?
- How have the barriers to better community-police relations changed since the 1990s, including regarding different sections of society, and the impact of counter-terrorism?
- How do the spectrum of hate offences compare across different victim categories? Is there a differential response? This could be addressed at a statistical level, or by considering street-level bureaucracy.
- What has the strategic prioritisation of hate crime by police forces accomplished? Is hate crime policy being interpreted into practice; has there been policy drift; is multi-agency engagement still appropriate?
- What are the alternatives to criminal justice responses? Should we involve private actors in service delivery, or what can we learn from the private sector more general which is applicable to tackling a problem like hate crime? How are restorative justice approaches used?
- Perpetrators and the pathways into hate offending
- Prison conflict, including racialized gangs and hate crime inside prison
- Public understanding of criminal justice in the area of hate crime, including expectations of what should be reported, what will be done in response and so on.

Women and Criminal Justice: Where are we Now?

Published: 23/01/2019

This paper recognises that interest and concerns about the plight of women involved in offending and the criminal justice system are not new but attention to this issue has increased internationally in recent years. This article offers a brief review of this international work historically and recently before focussing on the current position in England and Wales. The latest statistics are presented to show how the position of women and prison has changed little since the seminal Corston report of 2007 and then offers a critique of the 2018 Female Offender Strategy for England and Wales. It acknowledges that while the strategy picks up many of the themes and recommendations of Corston, the report itself is barely mentioned in the strategy and although the strategy offers much in ambition there is little in terms of immediate practical impact on the ground. While England and Wales can learn from some of the work in the rest of the UK and other countries, many of the limitations of the England and Wales strategy are also applicable to other jurisdictions.

Emotion, Time, and the Voice of Women Affected by the Criminal Justice Process: Corston and the Female Offender Strategy

Published: 23/01/2019

In 2007 Baroness Corston articulated a vision of creating a ‘distinct, radically different, visibly-led, strategic, proportionate, holistic, woman-centred, integrated approach’ with women in the criminal justice system (Corston, 2007:79). These sentiments are echoed within the Government’s Female Offender Strategy (Ministry of Justice, 2018). This article argues that the core messages from these documents have not been implemented. It argues that criminal justice processes are reducing the opportunity to work within the women’s timeframes in order to enable them to make long-term changes in lifestyle and to develop their personal capacities. The spectrum of presenting needs of women involved in crime is broad. Therefore, the focus of this paper is on the impact of domestic abuse on women, drawing on the voice of a survivor and her criminality, which occurred as a result of abuse and the attempt to escape a violent and coercively controlling partner. Using an autographical account, it is argued that limitations on time can significantly hinder individual progress, recovery and reintegration, given the experience of trauma and emotional suffering. Agency practitioners have to take time to hear women’s emotional needs, so women feel that their voices are heard in order to be connected with the process of rehabilitation. This article argues that the recommendations from the Corston report have not been implemented and that significant organisational change is necessary to assist women with multiple and complex needs to navigate a positive, non-offending lifestyle.

Community sentencing works… I’m living proof!

Published: 23/01/2019

Five years ago, Kim was expecting a jail sentence in Scotland. Instead, she was given a two-year supervision order. The judge’s decision to give Kim a ‘final chance’ was the first step towards what would ultimately become a life transformed; once beset by chaos and adversity, Kim is now a justice professional, using her lived experience to inform her work. However, a community sentence is not a silver bullet – Kim details what worked and what didn’t, and what support she had to seek out for herself. She also paints a stark picture of the obstacles that she had to overcome post-conviction, including access to education and employment as well as general attitudes towards people with convictions.

Lessons About Female Ex-offender Employment Support From a European Neighbour: Gender-responsive Multiagency Work Programmes and the use of Wage Subsidy Schemes in Sweden

Published: 23/01/2019

With over a decade having passed since the publication of the landmark Corston Report (Corston, 2007), and a new governmental Female Offender Strategy having been launched in the summer of 2018 (Ministry of Justice, 2018), it is an apt time to look forward and think both critically and creatively about future directions for women, criminal justice and reintegration. By turning the criminological gaze to a European neighbour – one that has often been described in terms of an ‘exceptional’ penal landscape – this brief article offers a case study exploration of the use of gender-responsive multiagency work programmes and wage subsidy schemes to support female ex-offenders into meaningful employment in Sweden. Following some introductory reflective thoughts on the role of gender in the ex-offender labour market entry puzzle, the structure and core ingredients of a successful multiagency work programme in Sweden will be detailed [1], drawing on qualitative interview data with both practitioners and female participants. Attention will then be directed to the use of wage subsidy schemes to support female reintegration through employment. The article will be concluded with a call for a shift in thinking towards long-term socio-economic investments in what are described as ‘structural desistance tools’, emphasising the lasting value of finding creative solutions to encourage inclusive citizenship processes that give women exiting criminal justice a fairer chance of successful reintegration.

[1]To ensure anonymity in the data, the programme will not be referred to by name.

Policy and Practice for Young Adult Women in the Criminal Justice System

Published: 23/01/2019

Women offenders are a minority group within the criminal justice system, accounting for 15% of the current probation caseload and 5% of the prison population. Women offenders differ significantly from their male counterparts and often exhibit more complex needs. Many women offenders have a background of abuse, frequently report having been victims of domestic violence and have had first-hand experience of the care system (Minson et al., 2015). This article reports on research conducted by the Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A) on young adult women in custody (Allen, 2016). The research found that the needs of young adult women in custody have not been fully analysed. Unlike young adult men, there are no specific establishments for them. There has been a focus on improving the system for young men, but little attention devoted to the needs of young adult female offenders, although it is acknowledged that female offenders might have different needs and risks. The T2A report analyses what reforms may be needed and also reports on existing good practice.

‘They only care when there’s a murder on’: Contested Perceptions of Vulnerability from Sex Workers in Prison

Published: 23/01/2019

This article is based on my doctoral research into the experience of sex workers in prison. Corston (2007) recommended that a new Reducing Reoffending Pathway 9 be implemented across the female prison estate, namely Support for Women Involved in Prostitution. The premise was that Pathway 9 would offer tailored support to women in prison who have been involved in prostitution in order to support their cycles of offending. This article will consider how women in prison who engage in commercial sex are treated within the criminal justice system and will make recommendations for best practice.

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