My Youth Conference

C was arrested for riotous behaviour, as he was caught up in public disorder close to his home due to misunderstanding the situation and peer pressure:

"After my interview with the police, I met with D from the Youth Justice Agency (YJA), who explained that I would have a youth conference. I had never heard of a youth conference before, but she explained that it was a meeting with other people to talk about what I did and why I committed the crime. I was still a bit confused about what would happen, but we met a few times before the conference and D always explained what was going to happen and what we were going to talk about which made the meetings easier.

There were lots of different people at my conference to talk about what happened. I went with my Mum and my Gran, and there was also D from the YJA, a police officer and a person from the community. We discussed what happened and why, and talked about what other things could have happened because of my actions and other people that could have been hurt."

After every youth conference, the young person is given a plan: this is a document with different rules and things that the young person has to do over a period of time:

"When I got my plan, I was scared I wouldn’t finish it as there was lots of things to do, but lots of the things I had to complete as part of my plan helped me, for example:

  • I had to write an apology to the police because of what I did. The police were so pleased with my apology letter that I received a badge and a thank you letter back from them.
  • I completed two qualifications as part of my work with a community project which I can use in the future.
  • I worked on the SELF Project to talk about things that I found difficult, for example, understanding more about emotions and peer pressure.

There were some parts of my plan which were more difficult. I wasn’t allowed to go to the street where the incident occurred for 6 months which was hard because it was very close to where I lived. I also wasn’t allowed to play the drum in my band anymore which was hard because I really liked doing that. Three months into my plan, the YJA let me go to band practice as long as I didn’t go to the parades which I was really pleased with as I was looking forward to going back."

After the plan has been completed, a young person will meet again with the YJA to make sure everything has been finished:

"When the plan was finished, I felt really proud that I had completed everything, especially after getting the badge from the police and finishing my qualifications. Working with the YJA helped me to learn more about how the police work, understand how dangerous rioting can be and why I shouldn’t get involved.

If someone is trying to use peer pressure to make me do something I don’t want to, I now know how important it is to say ‘no’ loudly and walk away."

By C, Aged 15.