This Action Research study was established in 1997 by the Society because of our concerns about the sharp increase in the use of custody for chi ldren and young people aged under 18 in England and Wales since 1992. Teesside was selected as the site for the enquiry because the local Courts have an established pattern of using high levels of custody for juveniles. The research also took place during a period when the Youth Justice Process in England and Wales was being reformed and reorganised via the Crime and Disorder Act (1998). MUltiple methods and sources were used to gather data and produce information. The sources included the views and experiences of serious and/or persistent young offenders and key decision-makers such as Magistrates and Judges. This action research study was designed as an intervention which would challenge and influence decisions within the local Youth Justice System. The project is in the process of developing realistic and viable alternatives to custody for local Courts through Restorative JusticelVictim-Offender Mediation. The evidence of need for this type of intervention was established within the study.

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