DARC Conference 2017

Past event

Friday June 23rd, 2017

Annual DARC Conference 2017:

Young People, Substance Use and the Criminal Justice System: Defining the Challenges and Developing Responses


The Boardroom, Middlesex University, Hendon Campus, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BT.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Download the conference flyer here.

Adolescence and young adulthood are important periods for initiation into substance use (including tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs) and for use to become established patterns of behaviour. During this time, interventions are needed to prevent onset into different forms of substance use, reduce escalation into heavy substance use and intervene to reverse problematic substance use. The groups considered most vulnerable or at risk of developing problematic substance use include young offenders, young people in institutional care, early school leavers and students with social or academic problems and young people living in disadvantaged families or neighbourhoods where multiple risk factors associated with drug use are concentrated.  Although vulnerable groups have been highlighted as a priority group in many national drug policies, there is no indication that the provision of bespoke interventions has necessarily increased as a result of this attention.  In particular, there has been very little attention paid to young people who are in contact with the criminal justice system in relation to policy and practice.

This conference brought together the perspectives of practitioners, policy makers, and researchers to stimulate critical thinking around developing effective responses for young people with substance use problems who are in contact with the criminal justice system.  Key questions tackled during the conference included: How is substance use changing for young people in contact with the criminal justice system?  What are the challenges in providing effective responses for this group?  Is there a need for bespoke interventions?  What does good practice look like in this area?  What are alternative ways to work with this group?

Below you find links to the speaker’s presentations at the conference.


9:30-10:00       Registration and Coffee
10:00-10:30     Welcome:  Professor Joshua Castellino, Dean, School of Law and Business

Morning session: Defining the Challenges
Chair:  Dr Rachel Herring, Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Middlesex University

 10:30-11:30     Professor Joanna Phoenix, Open University, “We’re doing what now?” Youth justice practice and policy changes
Download the presentation

11:30-12:00     Dr Lisa Williams, Manchester University, The challenges of emerging drug trends and markets: Some implications for young people, mental health, criminal justice and treatment services
Download the presentation

12:00-12:30     Dr David Porteous, Middlesex University: Trials of Youth: Victimisation, Trauma, Offending and Self Medication
Download the presentation

12:30-1:30      LUNCH BREAK

Afternoon session:  Responding to the Challenges
Chair:  Professor Anthony Goodman, Dept. of Criminology & Sociology, Middlesex University

1:30-2:00         Michael O’Toole, MENTOR UK: Peer based approaches to substance misuse prevention in custody
Download the presentation

2:00-2:30         Kieran Lynch, Public Health England: NPS Toolkit for Prisons – Lessons for Young People and the Criminal Justice System
Download the presentation

2:30-3:00         David Gill, Change, Grow, Live (CGL): The practitioner’s and young people’s views
Download the presentation

3:00-3:30        TEA BREAK

Chair:  Professor Betsy Thom, Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Middlesex University

3:30-4:00         Niamh Eastwood, Release: Decriminalisation of drug possession: Reducing recidivism & improving health and social outcomes for young people
Download the presentation

4:00-4:30         Panel Discussion and Closing Remarks


Speaker Biographies


Professor Jo Phoenix, Professor of Criminology, Open University

Jo is Professor of Criminology at the Open University, having previously worked at Leicester, Durham, Bath and Middlesex Universities. She has written extensively on issues ranging from sexual exploitation of young people, prostitution policy reform and youth justice. Her latest book, Youth Justice 2.0 is co-authored with Laura Kelly and due to be published by Palgrave later this year. This book tells the story of changes to youth justice over a 10 year period from the eyes of the practitioners involved in delivering it.


Dr Lisa Williams, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, School of Law, University of Manchester

Lisa is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the School of Law, University of Manchester. For almost two decades, she has undertaken research on both recreational and dependent forms of drug taking. She is interested in changing drug trends, as well as, the development of recreational drug journeys during the life course. Her main research has arisen from the Illegal Leisure study, a project which tracked young people’s drug taking from age 14 to 28. This allowed her to explore drug use onset, stability, change and desistance during the early stages of the life course. She has also examined the shift towards the criminalisation of drug policy, resulting in the targeting of drug-related offenders via the Drugs Intervention Programme and Drug Rehabilitation Requirements. Her most recent work reconsiders the extent to which drug normalisation continues today, applies the concept to Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, and documents the establishment of a synthetic cannabinoids market in an English adult prison.


Dr David Porteous, Associate Professor in Criminology, Middlesex University

David is an Associate Professor in Criminology at Middlesex University where he leads the BA Criminology (Youth Justice). His research career has been focused mostly on youth crime and youth justice and has included work on the relationship between school exclusion and youth offending, youth violence inside and outside of schools and the effectiveness of youth crime prevention programmes. More recently he led a project for the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) intended to inform the development of specialist support services for young offenders who have been victims of crime, violence and/or abuse. His subsequent investigations have focused on the intersections between youthful victimisation, trauma, substance misuse and offending.


Michael O’Toole, Chief Executive, Mentor, UK

Michael is Chief Executive of Mentor. Mentor is the UK’s authoritative voice in preventing the misuse of alcohol and drugs among children and young people. Mentor’s approach to preventing the misuse of alcohol and drugs is rooted in building young people’s resilience, helping them develop the life skills they need in order to negotiate challenging situations. Previously he was the first Crown Representative for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector. Working within the Cabinet Office, he helped to open more public services to the voluntary sector, influencing public sector commissioning and policy, building strategic engagement between government and the sector, and helping voluntary sector organisations to win and deliver multi-million pound public service contracts. In 2010 he led the establishment of 3SC, the third sector sector bidding consortium. He was part of Lord Young’s Social Value Act review working panel and has been a Trustee of three charities and led the establishment of a new charitable consortium in the children’s services early intervention sector.


Kieran Lynch, Criminal Justice Programme Manager, PHE

Having worked as a probation service officer for Inner London Probation Service, Kieran completed his probation officer training and went on to work as a qualified probation officer for the London Probation Area. In 2001, he joined the Drug Prevention Advisory Service as a regional advisor in the London team. He took on the post as Criminal Justice Programme Manager for the National Treatment Agency (NTA) in 2003. Since April 2013 he has continued this work as part of Public Health England (Alcohol, Drugs & Tobacco team) and over the last 14 years has initiated and performance managed national programmes on substance misuse and alcohol treatment with offenders.


David Gill, Regional Trainer, Change, Grow, Live (CGL)

David currently works in the learning and development department for CGL. He delivers and develops core training to staff and implements and project manages new developments to ensure the constant learning and development needs of the organisation are met. His passion is supporting and developing the health and social care field. He has worked in this field all his professional life and this has allowed him to develop a range of skills that have transferred over to his learning and development role. He previously has worked in adult services, young people services and in criminal justice agencies, both in the community and in custody.


Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director, Release

Niamh is Executive Director of Release. She is a non-practising barrister who started at Release in 2002 as a legal advisor. Having worked in drug policy for the last fifteen years, Niamh is passionate about drug policy reform and believes that the most vulnerable in society are disproportionately impacted upon by the current drug laws. Niamh has co-authored Release’s two most recent policy papers ‘The Numbers in Black And White: Ethnic Disparities in the Policing and Prosecution of Drug Offences in England and Wales’ and ‘A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Across the Globe’. She has also co-authored and edited a number of Release’s advice booklets including  ‘Drugs and the Law’ and ‘Sex Workers and the Law’, she regularly contributes to drug policy journals and publications. Niamh is also responsible for drafting many of Release’s briefings for parliamentarians and policy makers. She has presented at international and national conferences and is regularly invited to comment in the media.  Niamh is also an Associate of The London School of Economics IDEAS International Drug Policy Project, a member of the Expert Steering Group for the Global Drug Survey and is a visiting lecturer at the Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University.

Circulation list for events

Seminars and other events are arranged throughout the year. DARC members and associates are automatically circulated with details. If you wish to be added to the circulation list, please send name, institution and email address to Rachel Herring, r.herring@mdx.ac.uk


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