Grappling with uncomfortable truths: Future-proofing Youth Justice in Scotland

During 2019, the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ) undertook two major pieces of work with the potential to transform not only what we do at CYCJ, but also the wider sector.

CYCJ’s Claire Lightowler took a year’s research leave to give her the space to reflect on the future direction of youth justice in Scotland. Her resulting report ‘Rights Respecting? Scotland’s approach to children in conflict with the law’ calls for Scotland to ensure its youth justice system is truly ‘rights respecting’, if it is to uphold the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It is the first of its kind to translate the UNCRC into Scottish specific actions to improve policy, practice and experience in youth justice.

In the same year, CYCJ embarked upon a six month evaluation exercise to better understand its impact on the youth justice system and young people’s experiences/outcomes. This was led by independent evaluator Catherine-Rose Stocks-Rankin, who worked closely with CYCJ from June to December, joining conversations, meetings and social activities, and interviewing team members and stakeholders.

To give stakeholders the space and opportunity to reflect on both areas of work, an event on February 6 brought together representatives from across the youth justice sector, including policy, practice, academia and lived experience. Inspired by presentations from Claire Lightowler, Catherine-Rose Stocks-Rankin, the Scottish Government and the CYCJ team, plus an interactive session (with Lego), delegates discussed how we can best work together, overcome the challenges and navigate a path to a confident youth justice system, where mistakes can be made and trust is a given.

During the event, designer and artist Sarah Ahmad graphically recorded the conversations and learning points – her striking images really helped bring the dialogue to life (see image).

Event Resources

How will we get there? What you told us…

Presentation slides

From home improvements to strengthening foundations…
Claire Lightowler

From Evaluation to Action
Catherine-Rose Stocks-Rankin

Reports and summaries

Rights Respecting? Scotland’s approach to children in conflict with the law

Rights Respecting? Summary

The contribution of CYCJ: Boundary spanning and system development

The contribution of CYCJ: Summary

Deprivation of liberty is deprivation of childhood Transcript of the Kilbrandon Lecture 2020 delivered by Professor Manfred Nowak


Innovation in evaluation: CYCJ’s learning journey

How to do good evaluation

Evaluation – how was it for you?

Turning evaluation into action

The same…but different? Reflections on ‘stepping back’


Contact Us

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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