Young Women and Criminal Justice in Scotland: The Role of Education

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Conference Room - 251 (University of Glasgow)
Annie Rose Crowley , Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, University of Glasgow
‘Our young women, of course they can’t cope at school because they’re dealing with so much more important stuff, so much more devastating stuff...why would you bother going into school..?’

The vast majority of young people who come into contact with the criminal justice system have complex needs, and have experienced multiple disadvantages, which include poor educational achievement, school exclusion and truancy. Their educational engagement may be further disrupted by subsequent (or continuing) multiple placements in care and custodial settings, and transitions between these. This paper draws upon empirical findings from a doctoral project which focuses upon the experiences and perceptions of practitioners working with girls and young women in a variety of criminal justice settings (prison, secure care, community-based support projects and social work) in Scotland. The views of the practitioners regarding the educational needs of the young women are explored, as well as their experiences of how the criminal justice system responds to these needs. The paper outlines educational provision within the secure care and prison estates, exploring both the potential of this, and challenges, for young women being held in these settings. It explores barriers that these young women may have to accessing education once leaving custodial settings, as well as the role of education in supporting young women to move away from criminal justice involvement. The paper will also draw upon other experiences of the author, including her involvement in a university prison reading group, and her previous role as researcher for HM Inspectorate of Prisons.