Trauma-Informed Practice and the Criminal Justice System: A Systematic Narrative Review

Annie McAnallen, Emma McGinnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

703 Downloads (Pure)


Summary: Enthusiasm for trauma-informed practice has grown exponentially in the last two decades. The concept was coined by Harris and Fallot (2001), and rather than provide treatment, this approach aims to ensure all services are trauma-aware, safe, compassionate and respectful (Levenson and Willis, 2019). Given the prevalence of trauma experiences among the justice-involved population (Bellis et al., 2014; Olafson et al., 2018; Levenson and Willis 2019; Ford et al. 2019), local and international criminal justice agencies have sought to integrate trauma-informed practice into service provision. This paper highlights key themes from a systematic narrative review of the international criminal justice research on trauma-informed practice in the criminal justice system. Five key themes were identified. Firstly, recognising trauma was important to support recovery and avoid re-traumatisation. Secondly, safety was a central consideration for justice involved women, young people and for staff. Thirdly, trauma was experienced in abusive relationships, but healthy relationships supported recovery. Fourthly, gender-responsive, trauma-informed and flexible services, including programmes, had positive benefits for women. Finally, where practitioners were committed to trauma-informed practice, they were important mediators for its integration into organisational practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-129
Number of pages21
JournalIrish Probation Journal
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 6 Dec 2021


  • Trauma-informed practice
  • criminal justice
  • justice-involved women
  • justice-involved young people
  • probation
  • PBNI


Dive into the research topics of 'Trauma-Informed Practice and the Criminal Justice System: A Systematic Narrative Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this