chapter  5
26 Pages

Inside the machine

The previous chapters explored the policy aims and rationale(s) (Muncie, 2002) associated with the New Labour project, and considered their impact on youth justice processes and outcomes. However, it is also important to make sense of the ways in which pure policy objectives are mediated and reconstructed by way of the procedures and organisational arrangements which create the terrain for practice. We cannot simply assume that policy as set out by government or quangos such as the Youth Justice Board translates directly and straightforwardly into standardised programmes and interventions, and this is so even in a context where it frequently feels as if practitioners are being addressed directly by government, over the heads of responsible agencies and managers. Harris and Webb (1987), in their study of secure accommodation for young people, advanced the proposition that there is a dynamic relationship between each of three levels, the ‘macro’, ‘mezzo’ and ‘micro’; thus policy originating at the ‘macro’ level is interpreted, developed, revised and in some cases bypassed or subverted as it is translated into operational guidance and practice itself.