Irish Penal Reform Trust

UK: User Voice releases 'Nitty Drugs & Broken Trust'

6th November 2018

User Voice, a user-led charity in the UK, has released its report into the use of New or Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) among children and young people in care and secure residences in England.

User Voice spoke to a large number of children and young people in these residences to gain an insight into their experiences and to gain information about the prevalence of the use of NPS. 90+ children and young people participated in focus groups, 200+ participated in a survey (twenty-two per cent of the custody population for under 18 year olds in England and Wales), ten children and young persons in the community who were members of the Youth Advisory Group were consulted, and eight service providers were also interviewed.

Eighty-five per cent of those surveyed, and ninety per cent of focus group participants, said they had taken drugs, with one third admitting it was a way of coping with life.

Regarding support services for children and young people in secure estates, trust was highlighted as being the biggest barrier. Seventy-five per cent said they do not trust any professionals, thirteen per cent of those surveyed said they trusted no one, and forty per cent said they had never received professional support that worked. The size and type of setting that the children and young people are residing in was found to affect their experiences of support with the smaller secure children’s homes enabling more trusting relationships between residents and staff.

When asked about their ideas of solutions to these issues, the children and young people consulted identified the following factors as important:

  • early intervention;
  • making good first impressions;
  • trust and transparency;
  • consistency;
  • employing staff who have experience and knowledge of what the young person has been through;
  • support rather than punishment; and
  • positive approach to support.

Read the full report here.

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