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Understanding criminogenic influences on youth offending

Researchers: Professor Stephen Case | Dr Joanne Greenhalgh ...

By Nuffield Foundation

Project overview


This project will explore how criminogenic (crime-causing) contextual factors influence the effectiveness of preventative interventions on youth offending.

Youth reoffending rates are increasing, suggesting that existing preventative interventions have limited effectiveness. Current interventions largely target individualised, psychosocial risk factors, which can overlook and marginalise important contextual influences, such as socio-structural, situational and relational factors.

As a result, youth justice practitioners can be left with limited insight into why interventions may work for some young people and not others. Therefore, this project aims to answer the question ‘what works for whom, in what circumstances, in what respects, and how?’.

The project uses an adapted version of the EMMIE framework (Effect, Mechanism, Moderators, Implementation, Economic cost) and has three phases:

  • Phase 1 aims to identify the programme theories underlying youth justice interventions, and the ways that wider contextual factors are thought to influence the risk of youth offending.

  • Phase 2 will involve testing and refining programme theories through synthesising quantitative and qualitative evaluations of youth justice interventions using a Realist Synthesis approach.

  • Phase 3 will have researchers working with stakeholders to produce actionable guidance for youth justice policymakers and practitioners, outlining how to adapt prevention-based youth justice interventions to local circumstances.

    The research will make a significant contribution to a key debate within youth justice by exploring how youth justice interventions move beyond their existing focus on individual risk factors to incorporate more contextualised understanding and responses.

  • Team


    • Professor Stephen Case
      Loughborough University
    • Dr Joanne Greenhalgh
      University of Leeds
    • Judy Wright
      University of Leeds
    • Dr Mark Monaghan
      University of Birmingham
    • Dr Charlie Sutton
      Loughborough University

    • Ash Patel
      Programme Head, Justice
      Nuffield Foundation
    • Director, Justice
      Nuffield Foundation
    By Nuffield Foundation

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    We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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