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UCLan to work with region’s Youth Offending Teams to challenge offending behaviour

University signs a Memorandum of Understanding with teams covering three North West counties

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has signed an official agreement with a number of Youth Offending Teams (YOT) in the North West to work together in improving the life chances for children and young people who become involved in the criminal justice system.

The University’s Criminal Justice Partnership team has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with YOTs in Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Cumbria, Lancashire and Liverpool on projects relating to best practice, workforce development, student placements and volunteering opportunities.

This includes working with Lancashire YOT to help children and young people develop strategies to resist offending as well as exploring social and psychological techniques that help them when they feel emotionally vulnerable and at risk of offending. The project team is also in the process of developing an app to encourage communication between the young people and their YOT social workers and will also help all of the YOT teams to work together in tackling organised crime across the region.  Lancashire YOT has also sponsored Natasha Mokhtar, a PhD student from UCLan’s School of Policing, to explore the key factors that affect young people’s reoffending in Lancashire and the implications for Youth Offending Team practice.

Although there has been significant progress in reducing the offending rates of young people at a national and local level over the past ten years, the partnership will focus on the persistent repeat and serious offenders.

The partnerships will build on the existing work the Criminal Justice Partnership team is doing with YOT teams in the region, such as research with the Pakistani Muslim community in Blackburn with Darwen and with black young men in Liverpool.

It will also see local YOT staff work with the Criminal Justice Partnership team to study for qualifications up to and including Doctoral level to develop their practice skills.

Dr John Wainwright, Youth and Justice Lead for the Criminal Justice Partnership, commented: “With Government statistics* from 2017-18 showing that 16,500 young people entered the youth justice system and the reoffending rate for children and young people at 42%, changes are needed.

“Although there has been significant progress in reducing the offending rates of young people at a national and local level over the past ten years, the partnership will focus on the persistent repeat and serious offenders.  It is in these instances that the pooling of practice and research expertise will have a real and tangible effect in the areas of Lancashire, Cumbria, Blackburn with Darwen and Liverpool.”

The YOT teams can tap into UCLan’s research and develop new and effective ways to help these young people by giving them a voice, understanding their experiences and challenging their offending behaviour.

Dr Allison Jones, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Science and Technology at UCLan, commented: “This is a really exciting project for the Criminal Justice Partnership team and will allow us to take our expertise in working with young people who offend to a broad range of regional agencies."

Carolyn Entwistle, Senior Manager for Lancashire YOT, said: “We are really excited to have the opportunity to work closely with UCLan and colleagues from neighbouring YOTs to develop and improve services which improves the lives of the young people, parents and carers we work with and their communities.” 

The Youth Justice strand of the Criminal Justice Partnership will lead on the venture, involving researchers and social workers who have a range of experience in working with young people. The Youth and Justice group focuses on issues facing young people involved in offending, and more broadly on children and young people’s inclusion, their participation in decision-making and their experiences in communities.

Lyndsey Boardman | 09 July 2018