'Child First' Justice: The Research Evidence Base

Our report finds that responding to young people who come into contact with the Youth Justice System as ‘children’ and not ‘offenders’ can enhance lives, reduce offending, promote safer communities and lead to fewer victims

This report, published March 2021, examines the four components of the principle as set out by the YJB (referred to as ‘tenets’) and outlines how these are supported by research, policy and a wealth of international literature.

The tenets state that all youth justice services should:

  1. See children as children: Prioritise the best interests of children, recognising their particular needs, capacities, rights, and potential. All work is child-focused and developmentally informed
  2. Develop pro-social identity for positive child outcomes: Promote children’s individual strengths and capacities as a means of developing their pro-social identity for sustainable desistance, leading to safer communities and fewer victims.  All work is constructive and future-focused, built on supportive relationships that empower children to fulfil their potential and make positive contributions to society
  3. Collaboration with children: Encourage children’s active participation, engagement, and wider social inclusion. All work is a meaningful collaboration with children and their carers
  4. Promote diversion: Promote a childhood removed from the justice system, using pre-emptive prevention, diversion, and minimal intervention. All work minimises criminogenic stigma from contact with the system.

Child First Justice: The research evidence-base

The full and summary reports are freely accessible for all to cite, share and download.

Read the summary report Read the full report

Child First Justice: The research evidence-base’ was funded by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund.

Image © ilona75/iStock/Getty Images