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SIX in Conversation- Anton Shelupanov, Centre for Justice Innovation

Published Date: 28 July 2015

SIX speaks with Anton Shelupanov, Deputy Director at the Centre for Justice Innovation, about their Streetcraaft Scholarships and the challenges and opportunities facing frontline practitioners within the criminal justice sector. 


1. What's the impact of the StreetCraft Scholarship?

After dozens of conversations with frontline staff about the barriers to developing innovative practice in the criminal justice sector, we decided to set up the StreetCraft Scholarship. One barrier that was identified was that the sector lacks the sort of social innovation tools & early initiatives that other sectors like health or education benefit from. The Scholarship tries to change this by supporting justice pioneers to develop new ideas and shake up the sector.

Last year we supported four justice pioneers, two were placed on the Young Foundation’s acclaimed social enterprise accelerator, whilst the other two secured the commitment of their respective organisations for Innovation Time Off (ITO), spending roughly 5% or 10% of their working time developing their ideas, and being supported by the infrastructure charity Clinks and the Centre for Justice Innovation to get to the next level.

It’s still early days but all four StreetCraft Scholars have made strong progress. Lisa Rowles, a restorative justice specialist, and Alex Crisp, at the time of his application a serving police officer with a focus on mental health, are both now working for a Police and Crime Commissioner. Both have developed strong proposals to take to Commissioners and have initiated conversations about how to progress their work. Leroy Johnson, is developing a social enterprise to use his established music business to engage justice-involved young people and equip them with the skills and emotional resilience they need for today’s challenging labour market. Roger Blackman of the Reasons Why Foundation ran a very successful crowdfunding campaign to set up a new project in Lambeth. 

2. What's are the current challenges of working in the criminal justice sector?

The focus of the StreetCraft Scholarship is more about maximising opportunities. It’s about helping the Scholars identify available assets or create new ones, make links with social investors, commissioners and decision makers and seek out the best paths (which may not always be direct) to implement an innovative practice idea. Access to exciting new approaches like crowdfunding, or having established organisations like Clinks, the Young Foundation or the Centre for Justice Innovation throwing their weight behind your idea can go a long way in terms of opening up new avenues and securing new support and partnerships.

3. If you could change one thing in the criminal justice sector- what would you change? 

This is exactly what the StreetCraft Scholarship is doing already. It’s about getting empowering the practitioners who already understand the challenges and have strong ideas for how to change things. There is a vast ocean of talent among the people who work on the frontline in the justice sector, and their experiences and ideas need to be better heard. The StreetCraft Scholarship is a way of not just giving some of these innovative ideas prominence, but it’s about actually developing, embedding and scaling them, until they become established practice. It’s an exciting opportunity for frontline justice workers to be at the forefront of positive change.

Applications for the current cohort of StreetCraft Scholarships are currently open until 31 July 2015.