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Criminal Justice

Innovations in criminal justice

Anton Shelupanov talks about StreetCraft, the Centre for Justice Innovation’s new book, and StreetCraft Scholarships

On 19 February in a small cafe run by former homeless people and ex prisoners in the East End of London, Criminal Justice Innovations recently launched a book and a support programme. The book is called StreetCraft – and it tells the true stories of dozens of amazing people who have gone against the grain and attempted to do something new within the criminal justice system. The support programme – StreetCraft Scholarships – will assist the next generation of people like those who contributed to the book, to make their innovative ideas for improving the lives of victims, making communities safer, and ‘resocialising’ offenders, a reality.

 

The book took many months to put together, not least because the innovation world is uncertain and the criminal justice world can move both very fast and painfully slow. Over the course of putting the book together we spoke to over thirty justice pioneers, twenty nine of whom were eventually featured in the book. Two of these worked on the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) pilot projects, demonstrating the importance of focusing on a young person’s maturity level rather than deciding whether to treat them as an adult or child based on some arbitrary age cut-off point. Their experiences, like of many others we spoke to, show how important it is to forge the right alliances early on and have early stage support  when you are trying to improve aspects of criminal justice practice which your professional judgement tells you aren’t working all that well.

 

This is one of the reasons the Centre for Justice Innovation has launched the StreetCraft Scholarships, in partnership with the Young Foundation and Clinks. We believe that the brilliant people who opened up to us and the world, by participating in the book, are right. There is a wealth of innovative ideas and capacity for innovation in the criminal justice world. And there are many creative passionate people working in the sector, who want to make things better. But the gap lies at the very early stage, when an idea is first formed and it needs to be developed to prove that it can fly. Big criminal justice delivery agencies aren’t always so great at nurturing the innovations brought to the table by ‘StreetCrafters’, and even those which are don’t always have the right alliances to ensure the right reach, support and embedding in the community.

 

We are not claiming that the StreetCraft Scholarship will change all of that overnight. But we do hope to keep proving, as we did in the book, and as smart funders like the Barrow Cadbury Trust prove through high impact collaborative initiatives as the T2A Alliance, those who want to innovate in the sector, driven by their sense of social mission, are not alone. If you would like to read some truly engaging and sometimes moving stories of people trying to make the world a better place, you can download the book for free here. And if you know such a person and feel they may need a bit of support in taking their practice-led idea to the next level, please send them our way.