Celebrating an impact on crime

The Director of CYCJ is part of a team that has won a prestigious award for improving understanding about how people move away from a life of crime.

Claire Lightowler provides knowledge exchange expertise to the Discovering Desistance project, which placed second in the Outstanding Impact in Public Policy category of the Celebrating Impact Awards, organised by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council).

The Discovering Desistance project sought to share knowledge and improve understanding about why people stop committing crime.

The project was led by Fergus McNeill (University of Glasgow) who was joined by Stephen Farrall (University of Sheffield) and Shadd Maruna (Institute of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Queen’s University Belfast). The other members of the project team are leading researchers about the process of desistance from crime.

Claire Lightowler said: “We are proud to have won this award in recognition of the real changes to people’s lives this work encouraged and supported. This project highlighted the importance of involving those who have previously offended in discussions about how to stop reoffending.  It also demonstrated the value of really thinking about who can benefit from research and how best to communicate with them.”

Funded by the ERSC, the project team produced a documentary film, The Road from Crime.  The film follows Allan Weaver, an ex-offender turned probation officer, as he travels tounderstand how individuals like himself get caught up in cycles of crime, and how they break out of these patterns and move on to newlives.

The issues raised in the documentary were then explored through workshops held throughout the UK, which focused on what can be done to better support people to leave crime behind.  Participants included ex-offenders and their families, social workers, probation officers, prison officers, third sector service, policymakers and researchers.

The Discovering Desistance project has already had a substantial impact. It inspired a high-level organisational review in the Scottish Prison Service to transform its approach, reframing the service’s core task as ‘Unlocking Potential, Transforming Potential’, and helped to establish the Wirral Desistance Project in England. The start-up of a new charity running music projects for Scottish prisoners, Vox Liminis, was also inspired by a project workshop.

At the awards ceremony in London on June 5, a short film about the Discovering Desistance Project was shown.
It will be available soon on the ERSC website.

Picture provided by Discovering Desistance project

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Children's and Young People's Centre for Justice
University of Strathclyde
Lord Hope Building, Level 6
141 St. James Road Glasgow G4 0LT

(0141) 444 8622


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