We are pleased to announce the publication, via Open Access and print, of this research volume stemming from our EU MSCA Rise project Improving Collaborative practice between correctional and mental health services or the COLAB project. Improving Interagency Collaboration: Innovation and Leanring in Criminal Justice Systems is edited by our former Social Sciences and Social Work colleague Prof Dr Sarah Hean and other partners in the project this Open Access edited collection seeks to build on our cross-European research and improve collaboration between criminal justice and welfare services in order to help prepare offenders for life after serving a prison sentence. It examines the potential tensions between criminal justice agencies and other organisations which are involved in the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, most notably those engaged in mental health care or third sector organisations. It then suggests a variety of different methods and approaches to help to overcome such tensions and promote inter-agency collaboration and co-working, drawing on emerging research and models, with a focus on the practice in European and Scandinavian countries. For academics and practitioners working in prisons and the penal system, this collection will be invaluable.
The book contains chapters from former Centre for Seldom Heard Voices PhD student Dr Will Dugdale and current PhD student Jo Wells, alongside Faculty of Health and Social Sciences academics, Dr Vanessa Heaslip, Dr Angela Turner-Wilson, Dr Richard Heslop, Prof Dr Sara Ashencaen Crabtree and myself, Prof Dr Jonathan Parker. Our work contributes to the Centre for Seldom Heard Voices drive to include the marginalised and voiceless. We explore the contested concept of vulnerabilities in the context of criminal justice and mental health and into which people in contact with criminal justice systems are usually placed without critique. Normative positions that suggest vulnerability is something that offenders possess in themselves, because of certain characteristics they own, is critiqued as limited and indicative of structural power relations and an alternative consideration of vulnerability as something constructed within and by social structures and processes is offered. Drawing on aspects of an action learning approach, previous research evidence and research undertaken during the COLAB project an ‘etemic’ understanding (both insider and outsider) of vulnerability that allows an integration of agentic and structural factors is presented. We call for the inclusion of offenders in the design and conduct of services as a more humane and mature approach at a time in which current Government directives become harsher, ideological and dismissive of humanity.