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Making it Count

The ‘Making it Count’ (2019) project researches data collection and recording practices in the youth justice. The purpose is to study how to make better use of evidence generated routinely in the youth justice system – in administrative and operational reporting and review processes – in order to inform youth justice policy and practice.

Baseline research, ‘Improving the Measurement of Effectiveness in the Irish Youth Justice System’ (2017-2018) https://ulir.ul.ie/handle/10344/7684 – presented case study analyses of the data processes used to measure effectiveness in youth justice systems worldwide – Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, England & Wales, the Netherlands, and the U.S. states of Pennsylvania and Washington.

Significant study findings include that efficient data collection and reporting processes are important components in developing and enhancing system capacities and ensuring that the outcomes of youth justice interventions align with system goals. Experts in each jurisdiction believe system-wide measurement is required to support accurate assessments of youth justice responses. Most advocated standard data measurement systems in youth justice in order to assure the quality and performance of youth justice interventions and ensure implementation and service providers meet evidence standards.

The study found that case management systems, risk assessment procedures, youth crime and recidivism monitors, court and detention processes and youth and victimisation surveys are significant sources of youth justice information and data. In systems, data routinely collected by service providers and justice institutions using administrative processes are inputted into national reporting data hubs and into a range of criminal justice database systems. The information and data reported mostly concerns contextual information (i.e. data determining the circumstances of youth crime and young offenders) and input and output information (i.e. data regarding system actions and service provision) and to a lesser extent the outcomes and impacts of these responses.

The next stage of the study (2019/2020) takes a closer look at data processes and reporting practices in the youth justice system in Ireland. the study focuses on providing understandings of what is required build on and augment current data processes to develop (over time) and is aimed at informing ways of maximising the use of data routinely collected in the Irish youth justice system. We research outcome measurement in youth services and programmes and particularly ways of measuring change in the social and emotional capabilities of young people participating in programmes.