They really did develop me a lot, to be fair A Child First Pathfinder Preliminary Evaluation– Lancashire Child and Youth Justice Service - Diversion and Alternative Out of Court Disposals – Report No 2

Wainwright, John Peter orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8190-0144, Nowland, Rebecca orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4326-2425, O'riordan, Zoe orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8083-2648 and Larkins, Cath orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2999-6916 (2022) They really did develop me a lot, to be fair A Child First Pathfinder Preliminary Evaluation– Lancashire Child and Youth Justice Service - Diversion and Alternative Out of Court Disposals – Report No 2. Technical Report. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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This is the second of three evaluation reports that are being co-produced with children who attend Lancashire Child and Youth Justice (LCYJ) service. It is part of a Child First Pathfinder Evaluation initiative sponsored by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) for England and Wales (YJB, 2021). Lancashire CYJ Diversion service has been developed based on the YJB’s Child First Principles and an evidenced-based approach to co-participation with children (Case and Haines, 2015). The contributions made by children in this second report provide a lens on the world of the children who either attend LCYJ’s Diversion service or alternative out of court disposals. This interim report is intended to act as a bridge between the work and ideas of the core group of children, coproduced in Stage 1 of the evaluation, and the development of more creative methodologies and narratives that will be rolled out in Stage 3 of this evaluation.

This second report covers three areas of Stage 2 work.

Preliminary findings from stage 2 discussions of themes The children who provided the substantive narratives for this Stage 2 report were engaged in the co- production of ideas for the first time and were a representative sample of those who had regular contact with the LCYJ Diversion service. They were provided with the themes, ideas and narratives that were identified by children in the core group, in Stage 1, who co-designed the evaluation with the research team. The themes were raised as discussion points and ideas for the Stage 2 children to consider. The purpose of providing the themes was to engage with this cohort of children in a co-participatory way, encouraging them to explore, add to, or revise the ideas suggested by the core group. Following the values of co-participation and an adaptation of the approach of Paolo Freire (1973), these generative themes were suggested as a starting point by children who access the LCYJ Diversion service and alternative out of court disposals.

The initial themes set out by the core group were the following:

• The Problems – Family difficulties; trouble and conflict with friends and poor decision making/ reacting inappropriately.
• Additional Barriers – Lockdown limitations affecting children’s relationships and opportunities; social media creating vulnerabilities and pressure to do things; peer pressure; social and economic problems; and some children not ready to get help.
• What helps – workers who listen are respectful and empathetic; who help children to grow, develop relationships and understand the consequences of their behaviour. This only works if the children want to get help.
• Children’s Goals – to learn to change behaviour; to have pride in themselves; access to education and training; employment opportunities; to broaden horizons and travel.

Preliminary findings of the co-designed questionnaire The questionnaire was developed using Stage 1 themes relating to factors influencing change in behaviour

reported and input from the core group which was outlined in the previous report. In this report progress on the questionnaire completion is reported, including findings relating to children and young people’s reported health and well-being, their relationships and their support from their LCYJ workers and what they feel has helped them desist from re-offending.

Preliminary findings of an evaluation of the screening process and tool This tool, used by the LCYJ service, is based on Child First principles. The CYJ service have developed a screening process and tool with the aim of ensuring that the child’s needs are foremost in the decision-making process. Team managers allocate the screening process to a CYJ worker who will identify a range of information relating to police referral, victim details, personal, familial and social factors influencing behaviour, including other services involved with child and/or family. This information is recorded and factors influencing desistance are identified, alongside any safeguarding concerns for the child and other people. Once information is obtained the team manager will arrange a meeting with the CYJ worker and police to make a decision as to whether the child is offered a diversion service, or whether support is given by the CYJS to other children’ services that the child is already involved/engaged with, or the child is given no service. The main focus of this process is to ensure that the child is not moved into the criminal justice system when this is not necessary and to avoid a child having involvement from the CYJ service where support could be given by existing children’s or voluntary services already engaged with them and/or their family. Care is specifically taken to ensure particularly vulnerable children are provided with the best support that is appropriate to their needs, rather than engaging criminal justice intervention, where other provision may be a better fit (for example, children who are looked after). The aim of the screening process is to gather sufficient information about the child and family and existing support to put the child’s needs first.

In the report sections below, prior to presenting and discussing these preliminary findings and next steps, we first outline the methods relevant to this stage of the research. For further details of the methodology, please see also the Stage 1 report.

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