This chapter describes the situation in residential care in the case study of the local authority in the United Kingdom at the time of the field research, reflecting on the changes observed since research was undertaken in the same local authority in the mid-1990s. It considers comments made by care staff during the course of this field research, along with documentary evidence and observation. Other research has tracked the changes in the residential care environment by revisiting children’s care homes. This can be a useful way of identifying how policy and practice influences the everyday living environment of children in residential care. After explaining the nature and context of children’s residential care in this local authority, the chapter outlines the approach taken in the research and the range of data collected in the research. It also tackles issues related to the education of children in care, their health and wellbeing and behaviour management. Finally, it examines the decision to introduce a restorative justice approach into residential care in the local authority.
This chapter summarises the findings of 43 interviews with children and young people, along with 38 examples of fieldwork in the form of staff interviews, conducted during autumn 2006 and 2007. The questionnaires focused on young people’s perceptions of care staff’s management of behaviour within the care homes and how a particular problem had been ‘sorted out’. After exploring perceptions of how staff set boundaries and responded to the behaviour of children and young people, the chapter considers whether the young people knew what restorative justice (RJ) meant. The children were also asked to give an example of a situation where staff had been involved in ‘sorting out a problem’ and whether they thought the staff response to ‘sorting out a problem’ constituted RJ. Questions about RJ were therefore asked within the broader framework of young people’s perceptions of how problem behaviour and conflict was managed by staff within the residential care environment.
This chapter considers the particular setting in which restorative justice (RJ) as a response to conflict and offending behaviour was applied in the current research, focusing on children and young people in residential care. It examines the evolving policy context for children in care more broadly (as children move between different forms of care), connecting the circumstances of coming into care, or being in care, with the behaviours that might be addressed by using an RJ approach. The chapter first traces the origins of the care system and how this relates to poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion, and how this interconnects with conflict and offending behaviour. It also describes the concept of risk management in relation to these circumstances and behaviours, within the broader policy discourse about risk. It then presents evidence about a range of relevant ‘outcomes’ from the care experience. Finally, it outlines the contemporary focus on improving outcomes from care through the Care Matters White Paper, within the overall framework of Every Child Matters.
This chapter makes a number of observations about the impact of implementing a restorative justice (RJ) approach in ten children’s care homes in the United Kingdom and examines issues to be resolved in relation to the practicalities of using this approach in a residential care setting. The cohort study depended centrally on staff in children’s services setting up a tracking system and helping the researchers to add data on education and offending. Institutional data on incident records, police call-outs and use of the out-of-hours service all showed a reduction following the implementation of RJ. Little progress had been made in the research into harnessing the power of the local community to address problem behaviour by children in care or providing services and links between homes and local communities to develop fully a sense of social inclusion and belonging. There existed a policy gap between restorative approaches to problem behaviour inside and outside the home. As a result, children in care continued to be overrepresented in the ranks of those entering the criminal justice system.
Restorative justice (RJ) and restorative approaches (RAs) are becoming increasingly valued as a way of responding to a wide range of conflicts, including problem and offending behaviours. The growth in the use of RJ and RAs has been described as a ‘global social movement’ that sets out to repair harm, reduce conflict and harmonise civil society. This report takes a close look at the implementation of an RJ approach in the challenging environment of children’s residential care homes. It will appeal to people who are interested in the use of RJ, particularly its use with children and young people, as well as those interested in problem and offending behaviours in relation to children in care.
This chapter looks at the various forms of evidence about the nature, prevalence and trends in problem behaviour as well as offending behaviour in ten children’s care homes in the United Kingdom. The sources of data are based on four sets of organisational records: incident records from care staff (2001–2007); police call-outs to homes (2001–2007); number and proportion of children looked after for more than a year with a record of offending (2001–2007); and use of the out-of-hours service in two comparable periods during the field research (2006 and 2007). When interpreting this trend data, the chapter makes a reminder that all staff were trained in the use of a restorative justice approach during 2005, with some staff completing the course in early 2006. In addition, the chapter cites evidence from staff interviews to highlight issues relating to managing problem and offending behaviours in residential care.
This chapter reviews some of the main themes within the vast literature on restorative justice (RJ). It traces the rise of the concept and the main areas where RJ is seen as a more satisfactory way to respond to harmful and criminal behaviour than the conventional criminal justice system. It looks at the various guises that the paradigm has taken to date, focusing on key values, processes and outcomes required for a thorough understanding of how to conceptualise RJ. The chapter highlights some of the key evidence about impact and outcomes, noting an increased emphasis on reducing recidivism in policy formulations of the approach, as well as reviews of the available research. It also explores the place of RJ within contemporary youth justice systems. Finally, the chapter considers the specific application of RJ and the context of the current research — children’s residential care.
This chapter describes the experiences, views and perceptions of managers and care staff in the United Kingdom regarding their use of restorative justice (RJ) in managing problem behaviour and offending behaviour in children in residential care. Their views were collated in four main ways: by questionnaires administered in autumn 2006 and again in autumn 2007; by structured group discussions with care staff within the same two time periods; by individual interviews with unit managers, again in the same two periods; and, throughout the research by participation in staff meetings that included presentations of interim findings to managers and key staff involved in implementing the RJ approach. This level of interaction with practitioners helped maintain interest in the research and ensure the relevance of questions asked. This chapter also considers staff training and the principle of voluntarism in the restorative justice approach.
This chapter takes a closer look at individual children and what happens to them during a period of residential care, specifically in relation to problem behaviour or offending behaviour. The evidence draws on two sources: a one-year cohort study starting with all children resident or admitted to children’s residential care in a one-month period in 2006 (a total of 46 children) and case studies of 16 children through an analysis of case file data (and follow-up on information gaps with care staff where necessary) during the summer of 2007. The cohort study was set up and based on existing data collected on the children within social care and cross-referenced with education and youth offending team staff. The case studies investigated in more depth the kind of behaviours presented at the level of the home (including offending behaviour); whether there was any evidence of a restorative justice approach being used with an individual and what impact, if any, it had; and, an overall assessment of key aspects of the current residential care episode on individual children.
This chapter makes two key points about service delivery for sexually exploited children and young people. It argues that while there have been some helpful developments in policy and practice that raise the profile of sexually exploited children and young people’s needs, these have mainly been focused on child-protection agendas. The chapter also argues that, as a consequence of the focus on child protection, sexually exploited children and young people are seen first and foremost as victims of abuse. It provides an analysis of sexual exploitation that does not reify the young person’s experiences of victimization, but which locates ‘the problem’ of sexual exploitation as a social-welfare problem.