Supporting Young Offenders to Communicate in the Youth Justice System

A Scoping Review Protocol

  • Anna Sowerbutts University College London/Homerton University Hospital
  • Emma Eaton-Rosen The Children’s Integrated Speech and Language Therapy Service for Hackney and the City/Homerton University Hospital
  • Karen Bryan University of Greenwich
  • Suzanne Beeke University College London
Keywords: communication, language disorder; young offenders; youth justice.



Objective: The scoping review will collate literature from different disciplines on supporting young offenders to communicate in the youth justice system. Specifically, it will map the evidence on a) the communication requirements of youth justice interactions; and b) how to support young offenders to communicate in this context.

Introduction: Young offenders disproportionately present with unidentified Developmental Language Disorder. Successfully participating in the youth justice system demands considerable proficiency in language, and a large proportion of young offenders will thus struggle to engage in the required processes. Although there is emerging evidence regarding the specific communication tasks that young offenders are likely to struggle with, and published guidelines exist for supporting young offenders to communicate, it is unclear to what extent these recommendations are substantiated by evidence. This scoping review will collate what is currently known about supporting young offenders to communicate, identifying gaps and trends in research.  

Inclusion criteria: The review will consider publications which focus on young offenders, describe the communication requirements of the youth justice system, and/or provide guidelines for supporting young offenders to communicate in this context. Publications only concerning victims or witnesses will be excluded. 

Methods: Five databases will be searched, using identified keywords from relevant papers. To identify further studies, reference lists will be scanned and the grey literature will also be searched. Relevant data will be extracted from included publications using a pre-defined tool, and a narrative and visual summary of the findings will be presented. 

Study Protocols