This thesis investigates the development of a multi-professional youth justice team in Falkirk,Central Scotland, established following the Scottish Executive (2000) Youth Crime Review. The contribution of the multi-professional team was examined in relation to the potential benefits of having a range of professionals in one team operating in broader partnership arrangements. The extent that these arrangements facilitated implementation of evidence-based practice was also explored. Local strategy was analysed as a constituent of national policy, as Scotland began to develop a youth justice system containing aspects of the `Third Way’ corporatist, managerial model evident in England and Wales.
The multi-professional youth justice project of Connect was the focus of the thesis, although close multi-agency networks necessitated analysis of wider partnership arrangements. Employing a multi-methods case study approach maximised the available data and provided a rich understanding of the context and processes of local policy development. Interviews with a range of stakeholders in the Falkirk area constituted the primary data source, supported by observation of the working arrangements, document analysis and secondary statistical data. Elements of action research allowed ongoing data to be utilised by Falkirk Council to develop service provision while the research progressed.
Findings are examined in relation to the wider theoretical implications of adopting a `what works’ agenda in a youth justice system that has, for over thirty years, been predicated on a diversionary welfare principle. The arrangements in Falkirk may provide a model for multiprofessional
youth justice work that does not embrace a centralised, punitive agenda.
The research indicated that a multi-professional project could make a positive contribution to wider multi-agency arrangements, supporting the government aims of increased partnership working. It also suggested that operational developments, facilitated by practitioners in a bottom-up approach, could implement change capable of delivering services utilised and appreciated by service users, and meeting the standards set by the Scottish Executive. Further research will be necessary to provide evidence regarding the effectiveness of specific partnership arrangements in reducing offending and improving the circumstances of young people.
While the individual nature of local authority responses to the Youth Crime Review indicates that a national solution may not be desirable, the findings from Falkirk provide data about those factors that may facilitate or inhibit developments in partnership working, which is now part of the framework of youth justice provision in Scotland. Individual case studies can provide evidence that youth justice practice in Scotland can retain a local, child centred focus. Such evidence may halt further moves towards a `one size fits all’ justice model, which predominates in England and Wales.