Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
COMMENDEE 2016-17: Brian, a Practice Development Advisor for the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice, is Commended for his contribution to improving youth justice services in Dumfries and Galloway, and across Scotland.
Brian McClafferty, a Practice Development Advisor to the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ), has worked in the criminal justice sector for three decades, and for most of this century has played an influential role not only in improving the culture, approach, and outcomes for young offenders in Dumfries and Galloway, in the Southern Uplands of Scotland, but also turning his ‘tireless’, ‘relentless’ and ‘endless’ energies towards improving youth justice services across Scotland.
Fiona Dyer, who nominated Brian, is a Practice Development Manager at CYCJ, and concisely summarises those years of work to make a difference:
“In 2001 he was a prime mover in establishing the Youth Justice Service in Glasgow, which led to his becoming Youth Justice Manager in Dumfries and Galloway in 2002. Since 2002 he has raised Dumfries and Galloway’s profile within Scotland through his work in youth justice and related fields. This success is all the more noteworthy for a relatively rural area to be a main driver for positive change across the national networks. He was instrumental in developing a mentoring service in 2003, which won a COSLA [Convention of Scottish Local Authorities] Excellence Award in 2006 and has also been the driving force for a diversion from prosecution scheme in Dumfries and Galloway, which has diverted more young people per head of the population than anywhere else in Scotland. He has been instrumental in the development and establishment of a Multi-Agency Youth Justice Service that remains in place to date in Dumfries and Galloway, their work having been subject to a positive independent academic evaluation in 2015. Over and above his direct professional role, he has been very active in Youth Justice at a national level and has previously chaired the National Youth Justice Advisory Group.”
Fiona adds, “Tirelessly advocating best practice in supporting young people to turn round their lives, Brian has been a key figure in the youth justice field in Scotland for over 12 years. He has consistently championed vulnerable young people’s rights, and applied innovation while using the best available evidence as to ‘what works’”, and says, “Brian is the most committed and sincere person that I know. His passion for youth justice and those young people involved in the system is outstanding. He is a highly driven, enthusiastic, respected individual who always goes the extra mile.”
She concludes by noting, “Brian has worked endlessly in the pursuit of Scotland’s children being afforded the full rights and entitlement of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). His ethical approach to all issues youth justice is unwavering and Brian has been a significant factor in Scotland achieving outstanding outcomes in reducing youth offending; having less young people in custody; and diverting young people from formal justice systems where possible.”
In another testimonial, Steve Harte, Manager of Youth Services in Edinburgh, says Brian “is a leader in the field of youth justice in Scotland and is hugely respected by his peers. Brian is a man of integrity, passion, and has a huge commitment to the young people of Scotland.”
Professor Bill Whyte CBE, Professor of Social Work Studies in Criminal and Youth Justice at the University of Edinburgh, notes that “The Annual Youth Justice Conference and organisational strategy was heavily driven by Brian and he played a prominent role in the establishment of the national strategic group and in establishing the relationship of the champions groups to it. In his own authority he has maintained a specialist role in managing young people in trouble, particularly early interventions, which provided a model for other authorities in moving towards the whole system approach.”
Claire Lightowler, Director at the CYCJ, adds that Brian “is relentless in arguing for improvements at the Scottish as well as the local level, with a commitment to children and young people that is unsurpassed. Within his local authority he has been successful at building a culture where those under 18 years old are treated as children first and offenders second, ensuring that whenever possible children are kept out of the formal youth justice system and given the best chance of moving away from offending. Brian has also had a major influence on policy and practice development at the Scottish wide level, ensuring greater consideration of young people over the age of 18 in youth justice strategies and thinking, and playing a critical role in establishing what is now the CYCJ, a practice development organisation with a remit to work with and for those involved in youth justice practice. ”
Claire reports that Brian “has shown exceptional leadership across the youth justice sector in Scotland for many years. He has been the chair of the National Youth Justice Advisory Group – the only body representing youth justice practice in Scotland, and has had a seat at key youth justice policy and practice development groups where he has been able to influence national developments. He has been a tremendous force for pushing change and challenging us to go further in our ambitions.”
And the impact of his work, she adds, will continue, because “he has been a mentor, in roles both formal and informal, to many of the younger generation of leaders now emerging.”
In addition to the COSLA award for The Mentoring Service, Brian – and the work he has been intrinsic to – has received several accolades and awards. In 2012, he received a ‘Leader of the Year’ as part of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s ‘Recognising Excellence – Social Services Awards’, and also a ‘Special Chief Constable Award’ in recognition of his contribution and commitment to Youth Justice. Having retired from his work in Dumfries and Galloway, he’s taken up a new role bringing his commitment and deep experience to CYCJ.