Experience-based co-design (EBCD) with young people who offend: Innovating methodology to reach marginalised groups

Melissa Girling*, Ann Le Couteur, Tracy Finch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The mental health needs of young people who offend have become more widely recognised and attempting to meet these needs is now a global priority for governments and health agencies. Young people who offend experience a range of complex difficulties and have significantly worse health and social outcomes than their mainstream counterparts. These problems usually persist and often increase in severity through adolescence and into later life. There is growing acceptance of the potential value of co-designing services that recognise and address problems to improve the outcomes of young people with mental health problems yet to date, this methodological approach remains relatively unexplored in forensic service provision. Experience-based co-design (EBCD) is an approach to healthcare improvement that enables staff and service users to jointly co-design services. Central to the approach is the idea that understanding the experiences of service users and the ‘touchpoints’ (e.g., critical points or moments) in their journey through a service are integral to service improvement. The aim of this study was to explore whether EBCD could be applied to facilitate recognition of, and service developments for, young people presenting in community forensic settings. Qualitative methods used in this study included: observational fieldwork in four police custody suites (n = 30 hours), in-depth interviews with staff in community forensic services (n = 13) and researcher staff (n = 7). In this paper, the challenges of applying EBCD in community forensic settings with this population were: working with and across agencies; gaining access to participants; understanding knowledge and power dimensions amongst participants and understanding the context. This paper argues that innovative approaches to discovering the touchpoints for young people who offend – a key component of the EBCD approach - through combining analyses of secondary data and direct observations in community forensic settings can facilitate engagement with these specialist services and so provide access to relevant information about a group (i.e., young people who offend) who may be unable to participate directly in the EBCD process.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0270782
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2022


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