Skip the NI Direct Bar

Ford congratulates Youth Justice Agency on Giving Voice award

Justice Minister David Ford has praised the Youth Justice Agency on winning a national award for improving communication within the youth justice sector.
Friday, 30 November 2012

This is a tremendous accolade for Paula and her team and demonstrates the Agency’s commitment to improving outcomes and reducing reoffending amongst this vulnerable group.

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

The Agency was a winner in the National Partner category of the Giving Voice awards hosted by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT).

The Countess of Wessex presented the award to Youth Justice Agency Chief Executive Paula Jack and Assistant Director Orlaith McGibbon at a ceremony in London.

The award was made in recognition of the Agency’s collaborative working with RCSLT in raising awareness of speech, language and communication needs of young people in the criminal justice system. In addition to organising a number of seminars to highlight the issues, the Agency has also worked with RCSLT on a pilot project to develop an e-learning and training tool for staff. This has enabled staff to recognise young people experiencing communication problems and ensure they get the help they need and deserve.

The Minister said “This is a tremendous accolade for Paula and her team and demonstrates the Agency’s commitment to improving outcomes and reducing reoffending amongst this vulnerable group.  There are clearly significant speech, language and communication difficulties within the youth justice population in Northern Ireland, in both custodial and community settings.  With the support of the RCSLT the Youth Justice Agency has been working tirelessly to highlight these problems and take steps to overcome communication barriers.

“Paula has also demonstrated a personal desire to incorporate speech and language therapy services into her team by introducing the e-learning tool for staff. I have every confidence that the Agency can build on the success of this award and their excellent partnership with RCSLT to the benefit of the young people they engage with.”

RCSLT Policy Officer, Alison McCullough MBE congratulated the Youth Justice Agency on the award saying: “Communication difficulties can have a startling effect on a person’s ability to contribute constructively in the judicial and custodial process. What may be perceived as a lack of interest, a disregard for the rules of the courtroom or a lack of remorse can sometimes be explained by identifying an underlying communication difficulty or need. The Youth Justice Agency’s commitment to addressing these issues has seen speech, language and communication needs reflected in the Criminal Justice Inspectorate report, the Department of Justice Disability Action Plan and the Youth Justice Review.

“Through the excellent support of the Youth Justice Agency more people in the justice system will receive the support they need. The Agency also supported the Department’s new intermediary scheme which will provide assistance within the court system for victims, witnesses and defendants who have communication difficulties.”

Notes to editors:

1. The award ceremony was held on Tuesday 27 November

2. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444.Out of hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.