travel fellowship had been successful. I had applied to undertake research in the USA on gangs. Churchill Fellows are able to travel overseas to learn from international practice. The Trust offers a number of fellowships each year and has become increasingly important in both the research and dissemination of criminal justice practice by both academics and emergency responders (https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/research4justice/author/rb56/).
I study gangs, organised crime and the exploitation of children and young people by such groups. I am currently working as an academic advisor and lead researcher on 2 interventions in the North West of England. The aim of the first is to identify the risk factors associated with violent offending trajectories and exploitation by criminal gangs in samples of young people who are under supervision in the Criminal Justice System. The second intervention follows on from a pilot project in Salford, which seeks to evaluate interventions for young people who are at risk of criminal involvement.
Thinking more broadly about a problem
Research suggests that some mental health conditions have a relationship to violent offending and vulnerability to criminal exploitation. For this reason, my fellowship does not focus solely on gang membership and desistance but incorporates wider psychological and social issues. Its aims are to research the following:
1. To understand the role of specialist teams of mental health law enforcement. For this phase I will be in Houston Texas, learning about crisis intervention policing and the mental health warrant system that is in place in Harris County Texas.
2. To observe how a community organisation is working with young people and adults who are at risk of criminal involvement and gang membership and how they support the users into work. I will head to Chicago for the second phase of my fellowship. I have arranged to speak to community organisations and will also be attending the National Gang Crime Research Center’s annual conference. This event attracts international researchers, law enforcement, juvenile justice practitioners and supervisors. It is the perfect place to both learn from others working with young people who become involved in gangs and also to share research and obtain feedback.
3. To understand how the juvenile justice system copes with young people who are at risk of criminal involvement and exploitation. I will visit the Department of Juvenile Justice in Louisville, Kentucky for the final week of my fellowship to learn more about their interventions to support young people who become criminally involved.
I will be reporting on each phase over the next month. If anyone is interested in hearing more, please get in touch via the contacts page.