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Experience-based co-design (EBCD) with young people who offend: Innovating methodology to reach marginalised groups

Lookup NU author(s): Melissa Girling, Professor Ann Le Couteur, Dr Tracy Finch



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 Girling et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.The mental health needs of young people who offend have become more widely recognised and attempting to meet these needs is now a global priority for governments and health agencies. Young people who offend experience a range of complex difficulties and have significantly worse health and social outcomes than their mainstream counterparts. These problems usually persist and often increase in severity through adolescence and into later life. There is growing acceptance of the potential value of co-designing services that recognise and address problems to improve the outcomes of young people with mental health problems yet to date, this methodological approach remains relatively unexplored in forensic service provision. Experience-based co-design (EBCD) is an approach to healthcare improvement that enables staff and service users to jointly co-design services. Central to the approach is the idea that understanding the experiences of service users and the ‘touchpoints’ (e.g., critical points or moments) in their journey through a service are integral to service improvement. The aim of this study was to explore whether EBCD could be applied to facilitate recognition of, and service developments for, young people presenting in community forensic settings. Qualitative methods used in this study included: observational fieldwork in four police custody suites (n = 30 hours), in-depth interviews with staff in community forensic services (n = 13) and researcher staff (n = 7). In this paper, the challenges of applying EBCD in community forensic settings with this population were: working with and across agencies; gaining access to participants; understanding knowledge and power dimensions amongst participants and understanding the context. This paper argues that innovative approaches to discovering the touchpoints for young people who offend – a key component of the EBCD approach - through combining analyses of secondary data and direct observations in community forensic settings can facilitate engagement with these specialist services and so provide access to relevant information about a group (i.e., young people who offend) who may be unable to participate directly in the EBCD process.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Girling M, Le Couteur A, Finch T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2022

Volume: 17

Issue: 7

Online publication date: 12/07/2022

Acceptance date: 20/06/2022

Date deposited: 01/08/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0270782

PubMed id: 35819945


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