Young people in the criminal justice system – how can the arts respond?

The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance (NCJAA) 2019 annual conference asks the question: How can the arts respond to the issues facing young people in the criminal justice system?

The conference aims to answer this question with workshops, performances, panel discussions and speeches from leading professionals and young people who have been in contact with the criminal justice system.

Speakers include:

  • (Video message) input from Edward Argar MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice
  • Abid Hussain, Director of Diversity, Arts Council England
  • Nathan Dennis, Director, First Class Legacy
  • Matt Griffiths, CEO, Youth Music
  • Neal Hazel, Youth Justice Board
  • Intermission Youth Theatre
  • Lynnette Kelly, West Midlands Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner
  • Jamal Khan, Poet
  • Craig Pinkey, Criminologist and urban youth specialist
  • Lisa Rowles, Director of Innovation and Evidence, Khulisa
  • Sandwell Youth Offending Team
  • Martin Stephenson, Chief Executive, Unitas
  • Dr Daniela Varley, Director, Recre8
  • and more to be announced.

In the youth justice system, nearly half of all children (under 18 years) are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds with increasing numbers of Muslims and the starkest disproportionality amongst Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children. In the adult estate, the distinct characteristics and needs of young adults (18–25 years) are unaddressed, resulting in disproportionate reoffending rates.

We know from evidence that the arts have the power to transform lives, reduce crime, challenge stereotypes and enhance art and culture for all. So, how can the sector help to support children and young people up to the age of 25 in contact with the criminal justice system?

The conference will discuss good practice and policy, at both local and national levels, where arts and culture aim to address: poor outcomes for young black, Asian and minority ethnic people in custody; Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); health and wellbeing; leadership and role models. We will also explore effective partnership work, funding, and how evidence is used to make a change.

NCJAA invites policy-makers, voluntary organisations, prison staff, practitioners, academics and artists working with the arts and young people in the youth/criminal justice system to attend and be a part of this important discussion.