The Bell Foundation's Criminal Justice Programme seeks to break down the language barrier to accessing justice and rehabilitation for individuals in contact with the criminal justice system for whom English is an additional language. The Foundation’s programme began with the Language for Change initiative in 2015. In 2018, The Bell Foundation developed a new Criminal Justice Programme with a broader focus on victims and offenders.
The Language for Change initiative has found that there is little awareness of the needs of offenders who have English as an additional language, or an understanding of what additional support should be provided. The Foundation commissioned two pieces of research “A prison within a prison” and “The language barrier to rehabilitation” both of which highlight the major impact language can have on the experiences of individuals in prison, but also a lack of data around this for offenders both in prison and in the community.
As a result, individuals with English as an additional language are often an ‘invisible population’ especially in prison. The Foundation is now seeking to investigate, through partners, whether the case will be similar for victims of crime who have English as an additional language, in that they will struggle to meaningfully access key support and justice services.
The Bell Foundation’s Theory of Change
The Foundation has developed a new programme to identify the impact of the language barrier and to use this learning to directly improve outcomes for victims and offenders as well as to change the policy and processes that support them.
The programme has four key objectives:
- KO1: Building an Evidence Base
Research whether a lack of English language impacts access to rehabilitation and justice and if so, how
- KO2: System Change and Thought Leadership
Use research, funding and influencing to change the system’s response to needs of individuals with English as an additional language in the Criminal Justice System
- KO3: Capacity Building of the Criminal Justice Sector
Develop and embed training and resources to improve the sector’s ability to respond to the needs of individuals with English as an additional language by working with statutory bodies and third sector organisations
- KO4: Developing a Workstream on Victims
Develop partnerships to meet the needs of victims of crime with English as an additional language, focusing where possible on sustainable initiatives and approaches