Catalina Holguin

Since September 2017, the British Council in Colombia has been working to improve the support provided to young people in trouble with the law.

The Support to Young Offenders in Colombia project (SYOC) takes a problem-driven approach to improve rehabilitation services for young people, building understanding and supporting the direct application of learning around innovative practice.

Through this work, the project seeks to support the ongoing peace process in Colombia by promoting systemic change in a way that can reduce the vulnerability of young people’s recruitment into gangs and organised crime.

Following the launch, activities to date have included a UK study tour and ongoing peer-peer exchange, focusing on themes such as multi-agency working, diversion away from custody, and effective rehabilitation techniques.

Colombian champions from selected agencies are now being supported to apply some of the ideas and good practices they have seen into action planning and delivery. Experts from the UK will be travelling to Bogota and Cali to train staff working directly with young people in detention to reinforce the quality of services and support provided to young people. 

Critical to the project’s success so far has been collaboration with a cross section of youth justice agencies in the UK and Northern Ireland and the close partnership built with Colombian representatives from the Colombian Ministry of Justice, Institute of Family Welfare, and practitioners working in the Specialised Care Centres.

SYOC is funded by the UK Government and will run until March 2018.