Company Co-creating youth justice practice with young people – Positive Steps

University Manchester  Metropolitan University

KTP Associate Anna Jones 

Funding ESRC / AHRC

The challenge:

Positive Steps in Oldham, Manchester is a registered charity providing a range of targeted and integrated services to young people. The KTP concentrated on the youth justice services provided by Positive Steps, and those of the  wider Greater Manchester Youth Justice Service (GMYJS). The project’s aim was to help prevent offending and reduce re-offending rates amongst young people across Greater Manchester.

The solution:

The KTP developed novel research approaches to actively engage justice-involved young people in service design and delivery. Using Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) – young people co-created a new framework of youth justice practice.

The KTP enabled the GMYJS to create research capacity and delivered knowledge transfer activities related to a new model of youth justice, based around research informed participation and inclusion practices.

The KTP outcomes:

  • Led to the co-creation, with young people, of a new framework of youth justice practice, called Participatory Youth Practice (PYP). PYP consists of eight theoretically informed principles, including ‘let young people participate’, ‘develop ambitions’ and ‘acknowledge limited life changes’. This represents the first time that practice has been co-produced with young people in the youth justice system in the UK and has led to more positive experiences and engagement for justice-involved young people across the region.
  • Adopted a YPAR approach and used creative activities including: boxing, rap lyric writing and urban art in a series of workshops that led to the co-creation of PYP.
  • Co-created with young people, a film explaining the PYP framework in the young people’s own words through the use of rap lyrics.
  • Delivered PYP training to over 250 GMYJS professionals.
  • Developed a suite of resources (including training manuals) to support professionals to embed PYP in their practice.
  • Developed a new standardised out-of-court assessment tool (OOCD) for young people across the GMYJS, which takes a problem-solving approach to diverting young people out of the formal Youth Justice System.
  • Has doubled young people’s engagement rates with youth justice services across the region through the use of the PYP framework
  • embedded the PYP framework within each of the 10 GMYJS (including Positive Steps), and has been promoted and disseminated nationally as an example of good practice on the Youth Justice Board’s Learning hub (website that provides access to online resources for youth justice professionals in England and Wales).

“Young people in the criminal justice system are rarely given a voice in decisions made about them. Our Knowledge Transfer Partnership enabled the creation of a positive new approach which takes account of the difficult circumstances a lot of young people find themselves in.  We developed a new framework of practice in Greater Manchester – the first of its kind in the UK to be co-created with young people based on their lived experiences. The framework has increased young people’s engagement rates with youth justice services across the Greater Manchester region. ” Professor Hannah Smithson, Academic Lead on KTP, Manchester Metropolitan University

This partnership was a finalist in the Societal Impact category of the KTP Best of the Best Awards 2019, supported by UKRI.

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