What Are We Studying?
This project will explore the experiences of girls and women who have been in care as children and who are also involved with the youth/criminal justice system. There will be a particular focus on the link between gender and ethnicity in examining justice-system involvement for those with care experience. The overall aim is to explore how to reduce the number of girls and women who move between the care system and prison custody. The project will focus specifically on the experiences of imprisoned women from care, as well as the experiences of girls currently in care and involved in the youth justice system.
What Questions are We Trying to Answer?
There are six key research questions:
- What are the key features of girls and women’s overlapping care and criminal careers, from the perspectives of (a) girls in care and the youth justice system, (b) women care leavers in prison and (c) professionals?
- From their perspectives, what are the challenges facing girls and women from care in the youth and criminal justice system, and the professionals who work with them?
- What aspects of the care experience might contribute to the involvement of girls and women in the youth and criminal justice system, and how can these issues be overcome?
- What aspects of the care experience might prevent girls’ and women’s involvement in the justice system, and what more can be done to promote diversion and desistance?
- How can policy and practice be improved to address the issues identified above, and reduce the numbers of girls and women moving between care and custody?
- How can data collection be improved in order to enhance our understanding of this topic, and the wider evidence base in the future?
How Are We Studying It?
The research involves three key elements: a data scoping exercise, interviews with girls in care, women in prison and professionals, and documentary analysis.
- Data Scoping Exercise
This will explore the available data on girls and women with care experience in the youth and adult criminal justice system. It will seek to shed light on the gender-specific, statistical information that should be collected in the future, and consider opportunities for linking data-sets.
- Interviews with Girls and Young Women
Interviews will be undertaken with girls and young women (aged 16 to 25 years old) who have been, or who are currently, in care and also had youth justice involvement. These interviews will focus on experiences of care and the youth justice system.
- Interviews with Women in Prison
Interviews will be undertaken with women who were in care as children and are currently in prison. These interviews will focus on women’s experiences of care and the criminal justice systems.
- Interviews with Professionals
Interviews with professionals who work in the care and criminal justice systems will explore their perspectives and recommendations for reform.
- Documentary Analysis
Documentary analysis will include an examination of policy protocols between police and social services outlining how staff should best respond to challenging behaviour in care homes.