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U R Boss: new youth justice project from Howard League

3rd December 2009

A new project in the UK aims at giving young people in custody the opportunity to influence government policy on juvenile crime.

U R Boss is a ground breaking youth justice project that provides an enhanced legal service shaped by and for young people in custody and those recently released into the community.

The U R Boss team will work alongside young people, guiding and supporting them, but also being guided and supported by them. Youth participation is an underpinning principle.

The project will work with around 150 young people held in custody each year. The project will include training for the young people in media communications and speaking at Parliamentary select committee hearings; it also aims to give young people a say in how they spend their time in custody, from decisions about what they eat to establishing committees.

U R Boss will:

  • Enhance the legal service being provided by the Howard League for Penal Reform to children and young people in the penal system and those recently released into the community
  • Campaign to change national and local policy and practice in the statutory and voluntary sectors working with children and young people
  • Change public attitudes to children and young people in the penal system
  • Come up with new ideas about children and young people in the penal system

The ethos of U R Boss is to work with young people and give them a voice.

Frances Crook, director of the Howard League, said: "This is the first time anyone has worked with young people in custody to get them to make decisions about their everyday lives. In theory, young people do not lose their citizenship when they are in custody, but in practice, their citizenship is taken away."

Anne Longfield, Chief executive of 4Children, said: "Involving young people in decisions about their day-to-day life in custody is a crucial step in helping them gain the life skills, motivation and confidence they will need in the outside world. Putting them in the driving seat has the potential to improve the quality of their experience of custody, which may also mean a reduction in reoffending in the long term."

More information:

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