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About research at the YJB

The statutory functions of the YJB include a duty to commission research in connection with the operation of the youth justice system, prevention of offending and working with children at risk of offending. This as well as engagement with the wider evidence base supports the YJB’s wider statutory functions to monitor the operation of the system, advise the secretary of state and promote good practice.

In order to deliver this statutory function, the YJB we have a small team of researchers who…

  • Commission and manage research and evaluation build the youth justice evidence base
  • Conduct in-house research and evaluation
  • Draw insights from research and evaluation
  • Work closely with academics and researchers to support, draw learning from and disseminate external youth justice research and evaluation.

Our research: recently published research and evaluation reports

Our research: ongoing research projects

Pre-sentence reports (commissioned). The aims of this research are to develop learning around the processes and decision-making involved in producing and utilising PSRs, including the perceived purpose of PSRs. It also aims to understand commonalities and differences in PSR reports associated with custodial or community outcomes for Black children compared with White children. In order to do this, the team will be speaking to sentencers, including magistrates and district judges, youth justice service staff in three case study areas, and will be analysing 96 PSRs as part of this research. This research has been commissioned to Ipsos Mori and Manchester Metropolitan University. We expect to publish this research in Spring 2024.

Youth justice structure and integration (in-house). This project aims to explore different approaches to integration in youth justice services. It is intended to capture the ways in which youth justice services are becoming entangled with other local authority services such as children’s services and early help, as well as mergers across local authority boundaries. It will aim to highlight current practice, key facilitators and barriers to integration. We expect to publish this research in Spring/Summer 2024.

Child First self-assessment toolkit (commissioned). Developing and testing a self-assessment toolkit for organisations who work with children involved in the youth justice system (e.g. police, courts, health, education, voluntary sector) to self-assess their activity against the tenets of Child First practice, and develop an action plan for how to further progress in their child first journey in the future. This work is being carried out by Cordis Bright. We expect to launch this toolkit in Autumn 2024.

Disparity good practice (commissioned). Producing a report which presents case study examples of local practice tackling racial disparity in youth justice across England and Wales. This work is being carried out by Revolving Doors. We expect to publish this report in Summer/Autumn 2024.

Operationalising Child First (commissioned). Research to better understand how Child First is being operationalised across youth justice services (YJSs), including how YJB materials are being utilised and the barriers and enablers to implementation. This research will help the YJB to better support services in implementing a Child First approach. This work is being carried out by Crest Advisory. We expect to publish this research in 2025.

YJB’s Academic Liaison Network (ALN)

The Youth Justice Board’s Academic Liaison Network is a collaboration of academics with specialism in the field of youth justice. The aims of the network are to ensure the work of the Youth Justice Board is informed by the most up to date evidence, and enable opportunities for academic research to achieve impact on youth justice practice and policy recommendations.

We welcome network members with a range of lengths of experience in the field. This includes early career researchers and PhD students. See below for details of how to contact us if you’re interested in joining the network.

How do I apply to conduct research on behalf of the YJB?

When we commission new research we use the Crown Commercial Service Dynamic Purchasing System Marketplace. These are the Low Value Purchase System (LVPS) and the Research and Insights Frameworks. Only organisations registered on the selected frameworks will be eligible to submit bids. More information about these two frameworks including how to register is available here: Dynamic Purchasing System Marketplace – Supplier Registration Service (cabinetoffice.gov.uk)

The projects we commission are usually small-scale projects delivered over 1-2 years with budgets usually ranging from £25k-£100k.

Collaboration and Partnerships

We participate in the quarterly Youth Justice Social Research Group, a cross-government collaboration of researchers aiming to achieve co-ordination of and information sharing on youth justice research and evidence across government and Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs).

We regularly support academic research that aligns with our aims, through providing advice or sitting on advisory groups. Our ability to offer support depends on team capacity and strategic alignment. If you’re looking to find out more about how YJB might be able to support your research, please contact us using the details below.

The Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) was established to identify what works to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence. Our partnership agreement with the YEF helps us to ensure that our activities to produce, identify and share evidence are as efficient, targeted and effective as possible. This helps us achieve the mutual aims of improving outcomes for children, preventing offending, including serious violence, and help make communities safer. Whilst working in partnership, both organisations maintain our independence of oversight, decision making and ways of working. Here is the YEF agreement.

The What Works Centre for Crime Reduction collects and shares research evidence on crime reduction and support its use in practice. This includes sharing evidence in the crime reduction toolkit, signposting research on the research map, and sharing practice in the practice bank. Research | College of Policing


Please contact us at EvidenceandInsights@yjb.gov.uk if:

  • You would like to find out more about any of our ongoing research projects.
  • You are interested in finding out more about our academic network or becoming a member.
  • You would like to share information about upcoming, ongoing or published research you are involved with which you’d like us to be aware of.