NYAS Cymru is partnering with the Youth Justice Board Cymru and the University of South Wales, to deliver a unique PhD studentship opportunity for graduates of criminology and related disciplines.

The project will focus on whether children’s rights are being protected and children’s voices are heard when they are dealt with through an informal youth justice route, for example in voluntary police interviews or community resolutions away from the police station.

The project will also consider what more can be done to support care-experienced young people in Wales away from involvement with crime. Care-experienced children and young people are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and many of those have experienced trauma, or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Research by Public Health Wales (2019) has shown that people with four or more ACEs are 20 times more likely to be incarcerated.

The Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) PhD project will be held in the Centre for Criminology at the University of South Wales. NYAS Cymru will work with the PhD students to connect them with care-experienced young people, on both an individual and group basis, to help inform the research.

NYAS Cymru National Executive Director, Sharon Lovell said, “Whilst there have been some evaluations of out of court disposals, none have yet focused on the rights and voices of the children involved. It is unclear whether children’s rights are being protected through the informal route and this project will enable us to identify where there are weaknesses and how we can best address them. NYAS Cymru’s role is to ensure that the voices of care-experienced children and young people are central to this very important research project.

“Working in partnership with the Youth Justice Board Cymru and the University of South Wales, we hope this unique study will provide us with intelligence that can help to uphold the rights of vulnerable young people who are in contact with the criminal justice system.”

The PhD project ties into NYAS Cymru’s wider work designed to prevent care-experienced children and young people from being exploited by criminal gangs or criminalised by the justice system. The charity is heading up an all-Wales Steering Group to tackle the issue and is championing a child’s rights approach to policing.

Interviews for the PhD studentship will take place in late November, with the project expected to commence early next year.

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