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Making Criminal Justice Social Work work

In Scotland, instead of short term custodial sentences, some young offenders are issued with a Community Payback Order. Coming into Scottish Law in February 2011, these Community Payback Orders comprise of elements such as unpaid work, attending alcohol/drugs treatment programmes and, crucially, offender supervisions. These offender supervisions are teaching and learning sessions run by Criminal Justice Social Workers. Currently, text-based exercises are solely used: which do not always fully engage with or play to the strengths of those involved. Statistics show that one in two young offenders return to prison within just two years of release, highlighting the need for an alternative approach.

Working alongside professionals within Criminal Justice Social work and also with the young offenders themselves, Selina has investigated how service design can improve teaching and learning for young male offenders within the current rehabilitation programmes. Development of the project focused upon the tools of delivery for a Criminal Justice Social Worker and the strategies to support the young offender’s ability and capacity to learn; both within the payback order sessions and in real life contexts. Through this project Selina visually mapped the complexities of Criminal Justice Social work service, allowing challenges to be fully identified. Through a range of rigorous design methods, such as prototyping, Selina has authored bespoke, engaging tools and interventions that are supporting all those involved; co-created with them to ensure the designs are meaningful, applicable solutions.

Selina hopes to continue this research through her PhD, exploring the connections between design thinking and education. She seeks to uncover the potential of such design application in addressing current educational challenges, and ultimately, developing sustainable learning futures for young people in Scotland.

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About Hazel White

Director, Open Change
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