Young People’s Views on Safeguarding in the Secure Estate
In order to capture the thoughts, feelings and views of young people with different levels of experience of custody, User Voice was commissioned by the Youth Justice Board and the Children’s Commissioner to conduct a series of consultations across the secure estate and youth offending teams around the following safeguarding issues:
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One of the reasons User Voice was chosen to conduct this consultation was because we have unique and effective methods of engaging with young offenders. This research was carried out by ex-offenders who have themselves had considerable experience of the youth justice system.
Our facilitators have turned their lives around and are all fully-trained to run consultation groups. Their past gives them a special understanding and rapport with young people, which encourages participants to talk openly, often for the first time, about their feelings and experiences.
The consultation included over 100 children and young people in focus groups. Many of the participants felt this was the first time their voice had ever been heard. It underlined the importance of communication, and not just paper-based systems but human face-to-face contact, involving talking and listening.
The work found that, in all four areas of the study, the earlier existence of a mechanism or platform for young people to express freely their views, concerns and experiences could have prevented problems from arising and escalating.
The overriding recommendation was that a vehicle should be set up which will give young people a chance to express their views and feelings, and the secure estate a chance to hear them.