The benefits of music programmes on children at risk of involvement with the Criminal Justice System

Exploring the impact of music on children at risk of contact with the criminal justice system


The research, conducted by Laura Caufield and Bozena Sojka, found that engagement with a music programme had a positive impact on the young participants’ engagement with education, their musical ability and general well-being.


Previous research found that young people who participated in a music programme run by a Youth Offending Team were significantly more likely to attend their YOT appointments. They also demonstrated improved musical ability, well-being and self-confidence. Conducted in 2020, the study focused solely on young people who were already involved in the criminal justice system.

The study was replicated with young people who had been identified as being at risk of involvement in the Criminal Justice System, vulnerable or disengaged and the results were published this year. A total of 57 young people participated in the study and they again showed significant improvements in engagement with education, musical ability and well-being.

Eleven of the young participants were interviewed as part of the study. They reported that they felt more confident and developed better social skills and communication skills. They all reported that the programme improved their mood, gave them something to look forward to and that they enjoyed their time on the programme.


It is no secret that youth services have been cut consistently over the last decade. This has meant that our children and young people have very few safe places to go and spend their free time, leaving them more vulnerable to negative influences and at greater risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system.  This research not only confirms the importance of programmes such as these for young people who are already involved in the criminal justice system but also for those who are at risk of being involved. Programmes such as these are vital in diverting children away from the criminal justice system, as they provide constructive opportunities to occupy their free time as well as teaching them new skills and increasing their self-confidence.

Written by Sabrina Neves, Solicitor at GT Stewart Solicitors