The National Youth Justice Conference 2015, which took place in Dundee on June 17 and 18, brought together youth justice delegates to share knowledge and ideas on the theme of complexity and youth justice in Scotland.
The annual event – organised by the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ), the National Youth Justice Advisory Group (NYJAG) and the Scottish Government – featured a number of high profile speakers and presenters from across the UK.
This year the conference was chaired by a chair and co-chair, the latter of whom were young people with ‘lived experience’ of the criminal justice system, which greatly enriched the event. Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, introduced the conference on Day One and also took the opportunity to launch the Scottish Government’s new youth justice strategy, which will inform practice for the 2015-2020 period.
Presentations were given by key youth justice stakeholders including Barnardo’s, Action for Children, INEQE and Police Scotland. Talks also included discussions on the Interventions for Vulnerable Youth (IVY) project, troubled girls and criminalising distress, and an evaluation of the Whole System Approach.
Workshops were delivered on both days and focussed on a range of themes including the effects of early years trauma, young people’s use of ‘legal highs’, child sexual exploitation, challenging behaviour and group living, preventing offending and the Whole Systems Approach, and practitioner self-care. Delegates were also able to attend a twilight seminar discussing the issue of ‘criminogenic’ families.
CYCJ’s Director Claire Lightowler said that the conference was an invaluable opportunity for professionals across the youth justice sector to come together and share their knowledge and expertise.
“The event gives practitioners an excellent space in which to learn more about youth justice practice and research from across the sector, and hear first-hand accounts of those who have experienced the youth and criminal justice system. For the first time this year we had two people who have experience of the justice system co-chair the event, and it was inspiring to hear their contributions.”
In addition, delegates were also able to view two ‘sound bites’ in the form of short video clips produced by CYCJ/The Good Shepherd, and Tayside Council on Alcohol, and a range of stakeholder stalls offered useful practitioner resources. Those who were unable to attend the conference this year were able to follow the action via a live Twitter feed, and presentations and resources from the conference are now available on the website. Podcasts from the event will be added shortly.