Inside the Youth Justice Board: Ambiguity and Influence in New Labour's Youth Justice

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Abstract

The YJB was established in 1998 as a central part of the Labour government’s radical programme of youth justice reform. Yet while it has had a central role in directing the culture, organisation and activities of youth justice in England and Wales, it is poorly understood. As its future hangs in the balance, this article draws on a unique empirical study of the operation of the YJB to explore what it is, what it does, and why it is so difficult to describe. Drawing on an 18 month, ethnographic study of the operation of the YJB, this article argues that the YJB is an inherently ambiguous organisation. This ambiguity has made it simultaneously highly insecure and extremely productive, enabling it to extend its influence and activities beyond those initially envisaged in New Labour’s reforms. However, the difficulty in defining the YJB also suggests the full effect of its activities will only become clear once it has gone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages9
JournalSafer Communities
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Youth justice
  • policy
  • governance
  • political cultures
  • youth offending teams
  • ethnography

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