The report was written by Dr Aaron Brown, who completed his master’s and PhD at School of Law, and now holds a position as a Youth Justice Specialist for Unicef UK.
Aaron first joined Swansea University in 2009, undertaking the MA in Applied Criminal Justice and Criminology. This was followed by a period working at the UK Parliament in Westminster, London, before returning to Swansea at the end of 2014 to pursue a PhD in Criminology (Youth Justice).
Aaron’s PhD, supervised by Dr Anthony Charles and Dr Jon Burnett, examined the Welsh Bureau Model – a rights-based youth diversion model designed to divert children ‘away from’ the formal youth justice system (and associated labelling and stigmatisation) and, where necessary, ‘into’ appropriate-based interventions designed to offer support and promote pro-social outcomes.
Significantly, during his PhD studies, and building on the networks of the Observatory on Human Rights of Children at Swansea University, Aaron, along with colleagues from the Department of Criminology, had the opportunity to visit the University of Houston (Texas) and Emory University (Georgia), to meet with leading academics in the areas of children’s rights and juvenile justice.
Following on from the completion of his PhD, Aaron joined Unicef UK as a Youth Justice Specialist, where, over the past year, he has utilised his existing academic knowledge, to help lead on, and produce, a youth justice report that looks at the devolved and non-devolved policy contexts, in which youth justice functions in each of the four UK nations from a children’s rights perspective.
The report findings reveal that whilst much positive work exists, which seeks to use, make sense of, and apply international children’s rights standards, there remains significant areas of activity, in policy and practice, which do not meet the standard expected within international children’s rights standards.
The Observatory of the Human Rights of Children and Unicef UK have long collaborated over child rights implementation in Wales and international human rights monitoring, and reflecting on this, the report foreword was graciously provided by Professor Jane Williams of the Observatory.
The time Aaron spent studying for his PhD within the School of Law at Swansea University, and engaging with academics from the Observatory, has been invaluable in equipping him with the tools and expertise that he has needed in his role at Unicef UK, and which he will make use of throughout the rest of his career.
Speaking of his time spent at the School of Law and publishing the new report, Aaron said:
“My time spent studying for my PhD degree at Swansea University was not only a brilliant experience, but also afforded me incredible opportunities to develop networks with youth justice and children rights experts domestically and globally. It also equipped me with a strong knowledge base of youth justice and children’s rights issues that has been invaluable. I draw upon these experiences and skill-sets every day in my role and I am incredibly grateful to Anthony, Jane and other academics who were always on hand to offer support and encouragement throughout my time within the School of Law.”
On Aaron’s time at the School and supervising his PhD, Dr Anthony Charles said:
“Aaron undertook deeply impactful research whilst here at Swansea University which makes unique and important contributions to our understanding of diversion and appropriate interventions, especially in a Welsh context.
Further, what Aaron found in his research challenges us to think again about the ways that children’s rights are understood and applied in youth justice. Always diligent and collegiate, it was a pleasure working with Aaron when he was doing his Ph.D and I was so pleased that, after he accepted a Youth Justice Expert role at Unicef, we kept in touch. Aaron has led a very important research project for Unicef and I know that the findings from his project have the potential to positively inform youth justice policy across the UK.”
Speaking about the on-going relationship between the Observatory and Unicef, and on providing the foreword for the report, Professor Jane Williams said:
“The Observatory and Unicef have collaborated for many years, including on child rights monitoring and law reform in Wales and elsewhere to give better effect to the human rights of children. It was a delight to be asked to write the foreword for this important report, drafted by a Swansea alumnus who made a great contribution to our team of researchers and activists for children's rights. It is wonderful to see Aaron applying in the wider world the knowledge and values we share.”