If there is one thing that is part of the DNA of Revolving Doors, it is our lived experience forums. This is where we bring together people with lived experience, criminal justice practitioners and decision-makers, to coproduce innovative solutions to the revolving door of crisis and crime. The ‘revolving door’ is characterised by repeat, low-level crime driven by unmet health and social needs, such as poverty, mental-ill health, problems with drugs and alcohol or domestic abuse.
Last Thursday we held one of our in-person lived experience forums in London, hosted by our lived experience members, on diversion and prevention and how to tackle issues further upstream. We had energetic discussions about the National Police Race Action Plan and efforts to support people experiencing multiple disadvantage in London where our members stressed the need for early intervention for people growing up in care, facing school exclusion or with a neurodiverse condition, all of whom are overrepresented in the criminal justice system.
“A lot of people in the care system end up in the criminal justice system because of the lack of family support or any help whatsoever.”Revolving Doors lived experience member
“We know why people go down that path of crime: poverty, trauma, mental ill health, problems with drugs. Once you’re in the criminal justice system, the horse is already out of the barn. Prevention must start way before that.”Revolving Doors lived experience member
Our members also spoke to the importance of equipping officers on the ground with the right understanding of how such experiences might increase people’s vulnerability to repeat, low-level crime, so they have a chance to be diverted out of the criminal justice system at the first point of contact. Training police officers on the experiences of the revolving door group is something our members have been able to do through their involvement with Revolving Doors.
“It was great to be able to speak with police officers, have them listen to me and understand where they failed me – being criminalised for being a product of my environment, because of poverty, or the lack of family support. If the next young person that comes into contact with them [the police] gets diverted because I talked to them, then I’d be happy.”Revolving Doors lived experience member
Our Women’s Forum members highlighted some of the gender-specific work Revolving Doors works on and how having a gendered approach to lived experience co-production is vital.
“We’ve been making sure that there are enough sanitary products for women, presented evidence to the Justice Select Committee, worked to make stop and search more gender-sensitive… It comes down to police training, and criminal justice agencies’ understanding and responsiveness to the needs of women.”Revolving Doors lived experience member
Revolving Doors has been working on embedding lived experience co-production in decision-making for 30 years. We know that hearing directly from our members is game-changing for decision-makers and practitioners, but this isn’t just what we think; as one attendee put it:
“What I’m hearing today at the Revolving Doors forum will then influence my conversations with the College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs Council and the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board. It’s really important to have these spaces.”Event attendee
“[Revolving Doors lived experience member] is an absolute powerhouse. To hear her talk about what needs to change is amazing and inspiring… I definitely want to do more work with Revolving Doors in future.”Event attendee
We know by experience that efforts to make the criminal justice system more effective and equitable are most successful when developed in partnership with those who know best – people who have been through the system themselves. This is why creating opportunities for collaboration between people with lived experience, practitioners and policy-makers is core to what we do. Seeing it come to life at our lived experience events is priceless.
Revolving Doors holds regular lived experience forums, where we invite those working on issues related to the revolving door of crisis and crime to consult with people with lived experience.
If you think this is something your work could benefit from, or you yourself have lived experience of the revolving door or know someone who does, why not come along to our next in-person event? Sign up here:
If you’d like to discuss other opportunities for getting involved, please email Natalia at email@example.com.