A review of the evidence base
Earlier this month, Clinks, the infrastructure organisation for the voluntary sector in the criminal justice, published the latest in its online evidence library. Peer mentoring in the criminal justice system, authored by Gill Buck, provides an in-depth look at peer mentoring in the criminal justice system. Peer mentoring involves community members, often with lived experience of criminal justice, working or volunteering in helping relationships and is now integral to the delivery of most services in the criminal justice system.
The review covers a number of key issues:
How peer mentoring can:
- Help people to leave crime behind
- Connect them with services and employment opportunities
- Facilitate consciousness raising and collective system-reform efforts
- The barriers to effective peer mentoring and how to plan for and minimise these.
She also reviews the effectiveness of peer mentoring in promoting desistance to help voluntary organisations who are required to evidence reductions in reoffending.
Peer mentoring in the justice system
Dr Buck says that peer mentoring involves community members, often with lived experience of criminal justice, working or volunteering in helping relationships in the criminal justice system. It is now widely used in the UK, with peer mentors making up as many as 92% of criminal justice mentors in parts of England.
She says that peer mentoring practice can differ depending on the setting, but often includes one-to-one sessions, informal and formal group activities and/or informal leisure activities (e.g. shopping, meeting for coffee, going to the gym). During the Covid-19 pandemic, some services have adapted to provide online support sessions or outdoor walks.
Dr Buck’s review of the evidence examines how peer mentoring can help people to leave crime behind, connect them with services and employment opportunities and perhaps even facilitate consciousness raising and collective system-reform efforts.
Dr Buck is the leading academic in the UK specialising in peer mentoring in the criminal justice system and you can read more about her and her work here.