by Theo Gavrielides October 31, 2012, 12:56 pm 0 Comments

The probation service in England and Wales as well as the criminal justice system in Britain went through some fundamental reforms. At this critical point in time issues around race, disproportionality and the quality of criminal justice services that are being provided to Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups need to be looked at.

In 2012, IARS started a research and policy programme to build an evidence base for awareness raising and practical recommendations focusing on probation services and other criminal justice reforms. The project is directed by Dr. Theo Gavrielides (IARS Founder & Director). It is a timely and much needed programme with a great ambition. This work followed up our work on prisons (see “Restorative Justice and the Secure Estate”). The programme also linked with our EU project “Restorative Justice in Europe: Safeguarding Victims & Empowering Professionals” as well as the local work that we are doing on offender rehabilitation, gangs and riots with the Greater Manchester Probation Trust.

The programme started with a research and awareness raising project funded by the London Probation Trust (LPT). Through an independent review of the academic literature, evaluation of successful resettlement programmes, legal frameworks, LPT’s activities (including pre-sentence reports and resettlement/ reintegration programmes,) the project produced evidence based advice on how LPT’s services may be improved.

An event was held on 15 November 2012 to engage Probation staff in the debate. Speakers for the event included: Professor Theo Gavrielides, Professor Gus John, Dr. Richard Stone OBE (panel member of the McPherson Inquiry into Stephen Lawrence’s death) and Dr. Margaret Greenfields (Director of IDRICS at Bucks New Univ). Click here for a press release on the event.

The project’s findings were then launched at a public event on the 5th June 2013. The conference had a range of speakers from the academia and the third sector, including: Doreen Lawrence OBE, Founder of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust;Heather Munro, Chief Executive of LPT; Professor Gus John, Institute of Education and Chair of The Communities Empowerment Network; Professor Gavrielides, Founder and Director of IARS. The personal experience of two LPT users enriched the conference with insights from the service-user perspective. Click here for a press release on the event. The event culminated in the launch of the book “Race in Probation“, the first piece of research completed on this issue in over fifteen years. To order the book “Race in Probation” reporting on the findings please click here. The responsible Minister responded to IARS’ research through this letter.

IARS is now using the findings of the research to increase awareness of Probation Trusts and relevant stakeholders around Brtiain. For example, Dr. Gavrielides spoke at the Probation Chief Association (PCA) conference in Birmingham (14-15 March 13) as well as the Ministry of Justice Association of Black Probation Officers annual conference (12-14 Sept 13). To read his PCA presentation click here He also presented the findings to the Surrey & Sussex Probation Trust while he made an appearance at the NAPO annual conference in October. Furthermore, an article was published in the peer review Special Edition of the British Journal of Community Justice. To download the paper for free click here.

On the 15th October 2013, a close meeting was held by the Justice Minister Damian Green to discuss issues of race in the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. Representatives from the BME criminal justice sector shared their views and concerns.  To read the minutes and agreements including the list of people who attended click here A copy of the Minister’s letter can also be downloaded from here

In 2014, IARS followed up its findings with the intention of constructing a BME user-led, bottom up model for user involvement in the planning and delivery of probation services. Our intention was to help develop criminal justice services that respond to the real needs of BME offenders and victims giving them a voice in policy and the development of practices and services impacting on them. After involvement of BME users of probation as well as staff and key stakeholders we produced the Race in Probation Toolkit: BAME User Involvement in Probation Services This is now being presented to various probation trusts while working closely with the ABPO. IARS’ Projects’ Coordinator (Equalities) Dr. Paszkiewicz presented the Toolkit at various ABPO regional meetings as well as at the Keeping Race on the Agenda: Female Genital Mutilation – Developing Expertise and Practice.  To read her presentation click here

The Race in Probation toolkit also features in the first edition of the Probation Institute’s Journal, Probation Quarterly. The article calls for involving BME users in the design, delivery and evaluation of probation services. You can read part of the publication here

IARS Race in Probation toolkit can help probation providers to embed race equality in their work, and explores bottom up approaches in delivering resettlement services to BME offenders. 

Project Background

The starting point of our research acknowledges that despite progress, there is still a long way to go in achieving better outcomes for BME groups who come into contact with the criminal justice system including LPT.

Following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act, emphasis was placed on collecting better, more thorough and more consistent data on ethnicity, particularly at key stages of the criminal justice system and beyond. However, there is evidence to suggest that a large number of public authorities approached this obligation as a procedural “box ticking” exercise without reflecting on the actual significance of these findings. Various other factors did not help materialise the intentions behind the Race Relations Act. In the hope of addressing persistent inequalities and bridging the gap that the Race Relations Act failed to address, the Equality Act shifted the emphasis from procedures to outcomes.

Moreover, the world economic crisis in combination with the 2010 change in government brought a number of institutional restructures and a shift in the philosophy on public spending. Under the slogan of “Punishment and Reform”, a number of public consultations were initiated including some that were focused on probation services. Criminal justice service provision is gradually becoming an open market space where competition and privatisation are encouraged. Within this context, the role of probation trusts is revisited. Given that over 50% of LPT service users come from black and minority ethnic communities, this particular piece of work focused on how probation services can be improved for this particular group. Issues around community engagement, mental health, substance abuse, foreign nationals, victims and resettlement are analysed, and recommendations are posited.


We are Sculpt

IARS International Institute to operate as Sculpt

*Charity CEO available for interview – details in notes 

A UK-based youth charity today changes its operating name from the IARS International Institute to Sculpt. 

IARS is an international NGO that’s been working to empower young people to forge a fairer society for over 20 years. Their work is guided and evaluated by young people themselves.  

Over the last 20 years, IARS has delivered more than 70 successful projects that have addressed real problems that young people face, in areas such as: 

  • Gender discrimination 
  • Violence against women and girls 
  • Supporting young people to find work 
  • Creating green and sustainable business 
  • Promoting collaboration among young people across the world and much more. 

In 2021, with the world changing rapidly and opportunities for their work shifting, they decided to refresh their purpose and identity, and made the decision to rebrand as Sculpt. 

Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of Sculpt, said: 

‘We are delighted to launch our new brand that speaks to our aim to empower young people to shape their future.

‘We believe that many of today’s young people are facing unjust challenges – economically, environmentally and socially. A fair, sustainable society can only evolve if all young people have the opportunities, the confidence, the ambition and the skills to make their voices heard and propel change in their communities, irrespective of who they are or where they come from.  

‘Our rebrand, like our work, has been guided by research and by young people themselves. As an organisation we base our work on rigorously researched evidence and are led in our approach by our youth advisory board. Their voices and insight are critical to solving the right problems in meaningful ways.’  


Notes to editors:  

Dr. Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of The IARS International Institute is available for interview. Contact Claire directly on: director@iars.org.uk +44(0) 7833 224442  



Sculpt is a UK-based charity providing research, training and work-experience opportunities that empower young people to shape their own futures and those of their communities. 

We work directly with young people, employers and professionals who support young people. All our work is guided by young people themselves and based on carefully researched evidence. We: 

  • Facilitate forums for young people to make their needs and their voices heard. 
  • Publish a magazine by young people to express their perspectives and encourage debate around public policy issues. 
  • Conduct research to uncover young people’s real needs and what works to empower and support them. 
  • Deliver training to build young people’s confidence, skills, ambition, resilience and sense of responsibility, so they can shape their futures and change their communities for the better, as leaders, social entrepreneurs and active participants in civic life. 
  • Deliver training for professionals who work with young people, drawing on our research and expertise. 
  • Engage with employers to facilitate work experience and employment opportunities for young people to develop skills and access diverse jobs. 
  • Facilitate international exchange opportunities to encourage and enable young people to experience and appreciate other cultures, perspectives and ways of life. 

We tackle disempowerment from three angles: working directly with young people to build confidence and skills and their voice, working with professionals who support young people, and working with employers to break down barriers to opportunity.