Criminology on Trial: The British Society of Criminology Conference 2013

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


'Youth Justice Policy Research on Trial' Abstract: New Labour's sweeping programme of reform of the English and Welsh youth justice system revitalised a continuing academic debate about the ideological and theoretical basis of contemporary youth justice policy in England and Wales. Through this powerful body of work, a dominant mode of thinking about English and Welsh youth justice has emerged in which it is seen as punitive, demonizing, technocratic and incoherent. However, despite this continuing interest there has been little critical engagement with the nature of policy itself. Instead, contemporary criminological research shares a common methodological position whereby 'policy' is equated with official policy products (such as legislation or ministerial speeches), and is conceptually and practically divorced from 'practice'. Yet this understanding bears little relation to the lived experiences of policymaking. Drawing on an ethnographic study of policymaking in the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB), this paper argues for an understanding of policy as practice. Such an understanding draws attention to the complex series of relationships and activities at the centre which directly shape the culture, organisation and activities of the youth justice system, yet are independent of or tangential to official policy artefacts. This view is particularly important following the establishment of the YJB, which radically reconfigured the English and Welsh policy making environment and provided a new freedom of operation at the centre. This opens up new possibilities for an understanding both of the nature of Labour's English and Welsh youth justice policy, and of the nature of 'policy' itself.
Period2 Jul 2013
Event typeConference
LocationWolverhampton, United Kingdom