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Wednesday 27th of May 2020

Press Room

IJJO Interviews- Ms. Marianne Moore. Juvenile Justice Expert. United Kingdom

Monday 10th of December 2012 | International, United Kingdom

Within the following interview Ms. Marianne Moore, Expert Justice Studio Ltd from United Kingdom, presents one of the main outputs of the MHYO Project ‘European Comparative Analysis and Knowledge Transfer of Mental Health Resources for Young Offenders’ , Volume II: Manual for improving professional knowledge, skills and developing advocacy programme undertaken and coordinated by the IIJO and supported by European Commission.

In this context, she gives an overview of the adequate training that professionals who work with mentally ill juvenile offenders should receive in order to improve professional knowledge and skills as well as she suggests the most important recommendations that states should implement in order to improve the situation of young offenders suffering from mental health problems.

Marianne Moore is an internationally recognized specialist in youth justice. As Director of Justice Studio Ltd her clients include: OIJJ; UNICEF in Afghanistan and Turkey; and Penal Reform International. She has most recently devised a diversion policy for children in Afghanistan and provided strategic assistance to two charities working with offenders in Uganda: the African Prisons Project; and Sustain for Life.


Prior to establishing Justice Studio Ltd, Marianne was a consultant at Cordis Bright Ltd where she led three large scale reviews of detention centres in the UK for the Youth Justice Board of England and Wales. These focused on young offenders with specialist needs and those serving long term sentences. Whilst there she also coached youth justice professionals thereby improving Youth Offending Services’ compliance with UK Youth Justice National Standards. Prior to working at Cordis Bright, Marianne was a consultant at Tribal Consulting and Capita Consulting. She has published work on youth justice and gender, child protection and international standards of youth detention. She has an MA in Youth Justice and Applied Criminology from Middlesex University and a BA from Oxford University.




The European Commission supported the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) in the development and coordination of the Project ‘European Comparative Analysis and Knowledge Transfer of Mental Health Resources for Young Offenders’ (MHYO). As you have been in charge of the following up of the MHYO Project Volume II, what is its objective and what will you define as innovative in the outputs obtained?


 The issue of young offenders suffering from mental health problems is severely under-researched and under-acknowledged. There is relatively little national commitment, and even less international cooperation, focused on finding solutions to address the issue, which is widespread. Being in conflict with the law is a taboo and having a mental health problem is a taboo. People general do not know how best to tackle the situation, and so they pretend it isn’t happening. This is why the MHYO programme, which is aimed at bringing the issue onto the international agenda is innovative. It seeks to provide new research, highlight best practice, and to provide practical ways of improving the situation of young offenders with mental health problems. It seeks to capture the attention of all levels of decision makers, and yet, in addition, provide practical solutions and ways of improving practice on the ground. As such it is a holistic campaign to improve the lives of young offenders with mental health problems that is long overdue.


 As a result of the MHYO Project, we know that professionals working with mentally ill juvenile offenders often do not receive adequate training. You have previously coached youth justice professionals, what were the main types of skills these professionals lacked and needed to be trained in? In general, what type of training do you consider to be the most important for such professionals to have? 

The youth justice system is unique in that there is a huge diversity of professionals involved.  Police, prison officers, social workers, teachers, psychologists, lawyers and judges all have completely different types of background, experience and education. Each one is very clear on their own role in relation to young offenders and the majority of the professionals I’ve met have complete integrity and commitment to what it is they need to achieve in their job to help young people. The difficulties lie in how these professionals see each other and how they work together. As they are so different there can often be a lack of understanding between professions as to what exactly the others do – and if it’s helpful at all. For example, prison officers have a very different approach to working with young people than psychologists and there is often a suspicion between them. Therefore, I would say that it is not so much that professionals lack certain skills, but that they can be extremely benefitted from learning from each other in a multi-professional training setting. The most effective training would be where different professionals learn together about young people with mental health problems in a forum where they can share ideas, solutions and experiences. In this way they can learn about each other’s approaches and motivations and build up more trust between themselves so that they can work with greater collaboration.


What are the main crucial intervention points identified during the first section of the MHYO Project Volume II ‘MHYO Training Tools for improving professional knowledge and skills’ which has been designed to guide the reader through the pathway of young offenders with mental health issues through the criminal justice system?

Picking up that a young person may have a mental health issue at any point in their journey through the criminal justice system is better than never having it acknowledged. Therefore, at all of the points on the young person’s journey it is important to provide them with the right assessment and support. Obviously, the earlier any issues are uncovered the better for the young person so that they can receive the right care. Ideally, therefore, it would be best for young people to have any issues acknowledged before they come into contact with the criminal justice system, or at the latest, at the time of arrest. However, the most crucial aspect of the intervention points is not just that the young person has their issues detected, but that there is a clear strategy for intervention and support for that young person so that their needs can be understood and met.


In the MHYO Project Volume II, what do you think are the most important recommendations that states should implement in order to improve the situation of young offenders suffering from mental health problems?

The issue of young offenders and mental health problems is large, and so under-acknowledged that all of the recommendations set out by the OIJJ should be heeded by international and national stakeholders.  So much work needs to be done. However, I think that the recommendations for national governments may be the best place to start in tackling this extremely widespread issue. In particular, ensuring that States take measures to prevent children and young people from entering the criminal justice system if they have a mental health problem through proper and regular screening is vitally important. But also, ensuring that all children who have been diagnosed with a mental health problem, illness or disorder, at whichever stage they are along the legal proceedings, are placed within facilities that are suitable for the effective treatment of their mental health issue is also important. If States commit themselves to acknowledging the issue, implementing adequate assessment of each case and ensuring effective care of these young people then we will begin to see a difference in the young people’s lives.


What would be the main steps and procedure to follow and recommend in order  help national stakeholders and experts to develop an advocacy and evaluation programme to improve the provision of services for young offenders with mental health problems?

National stakeholders and experts first need to be clear about what the specific situation is in their countries regarding children with mental health problems. Each country’s justice system will be different and the issues that their young people will face will also be different. Therefore, as a first step it will be crucial for each country’s stakeholders and experts to have a thorough understanding of the situation in their country. For example it may be that there is a particular issue with young people having the dual-diagnosis of mental health issues coupled with substance misuse. This situation analysis will both provide a baseline for future evaluation, and give a clear picture of the particular needs of the country and the things that need to change. From this, it can be established who can make these necessary changes. Once these key decision makers have been identified, experts and stakeholders can work out what these people need to know or hear in order to make improvements in provision for young people with mental health problems.

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