Members of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice have been learning how Diagrama’s youth custodial care model could transform the face of the juvenile justice system in the UK.
Dr Di Hart was reporting back to the committee on the preliminary findings of her recent study into custodial care in Finland, Spain and the US – which included spending time experiencing Diagrama’s ground-breaking ‘re-education’ approach to rehabilitation of young offenders.
The study, funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust found that while all three countries’ approaches were very different, they also had one thing in common. All benefitted from a flexible approach to custodial care.
Dr Hart, who now works on a freelance basis, but has a background in childcare social work and management, has a particular interest in children in secure settings and the welfare needs of children who offend. Her recent publications include ‘Into the Breach: the enforcement of statutory orders in the youth justice system’ and ‘Care – a Stepping Stone to Custody?’ published by the Prison Reform Trust.
Her visit to Diagrama’s secure units in Spain found sentences were generally longer, with judges fully involved in the rehabilitation process, paying regular visits to the young people to monitor their progress and assess potential for detainment orders to be varied.
Dr Hart said: “Frontline staff at Diagrama go into the class with the young people and are fully involved with their activities, building relationships with them the whole time. The young people are getting a really good education in the broadest sense. .”
The group heard how a system of phased release, encouraged family involvement and the locality of the secure centres close to their homes all played a critical role in successful rehabilitation.
Dr Hart will be making formal recommendations on changes to the UK youth custodial system in her full report which is expected to be available by the end of the year.
David McGuire, chief executive of Diagrama Foundation, based in Chatham, Kent, said: “We are glad Di has been able to appreciate first hand the exceptional quality of custodial care offered by Diagrama’s dedicated team of educators in Spain and we hope her full report will help to bring about positive change to young offender rehabilitation services in the UK.”
To find out more about the work of Diagrama in the UK, please email email@example.com