Young Advisors on Criminal Justice is our flagship initiative within the criminal justice sector. The project enables young adults with lived experience of the Criminal Justice System to use their unique expertise to inform changes in policy, service design and delivery. The project was set up as a pilot in 2016, and due to its success in its first year, it has expanded since then with funding from the Barrow Cadbury Trust.
Young Advisors on Criminal Justice aims to:
Equip young people with lived experience of the justice system to play a leadership role working with policy-makers
Take a peer-led approach to gather and represent the views of young adults on the criminal justice system
Produce youth-centred reports capturing the views of young adults on different themes relating to criminal justice
Present insights and recommendations to decision-makers working on criminal justice reform
Act as a sounding board to inform the Transition to Adulthood alliance, which is funded by the Barrow Cadbury TrustView publication
How it works
Recruitment: Working proactively with frontline organisations, we recruit a diverse group of Young Advisors with a wide range of lived experience including custodial sentences, community sentences, family members in custody, youth offending teams, and stop and search.
Priorities: Through deliberation and negotiation, the Young Advisors identify a list of priority topics they wish to address through the project. Their current priorities are: Sentencing; Mental Health; Employment and Life After Prison; Care System; BAME young adults; LGBTQ+ young adults.
Young Advisors meetings: Every 2 months we hold meetings bringing together the group of young adults with decision-makers and experts working on reforms. These meetings help to build the skills and capacity of the Young Advisors, and also serve as a forum to share and reflect on progress.
Peer-led engagement sessions: We deliver peer-led engagement sessions in secure settings and community settings across the country, enabling the Young Advisors to lead conversations with other young adults about their priority topics.
Analysis and reports: Advisory Group members will analyse the key themes arising from their peer research and produce the key messages and recommendations to form unique youth-centred reports.
Young adults in the 18-25 age group make up less than 10% of the general population, but account for more than a third of the probation service’s caseload and a third of those sentenced to prison every year.
Prisons and Youth Offending Institutes
Young advisors with lived experience
Young adults given a voice on criminal justice
"We’ve been involved in peer engagement work with Leaders Unlocked. The young leaders we worked with engaged with over 100 service users in custody. We have been so impressed with the work. We are engaging with the young adults as colleagues, and the fact that they are former service users is almost secondary. The most important thing is the high quality work they are delivering."