Co-production in the Lost Mothers Project: transforming criminal justice narratives through Lived experience engagement

Kate Chivers, Tuesdae Moncrieffe

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The Lost Mothers Project researches the repercussions of mandatory separation between newborns and women
in the Criminal Justice System (CJS), aiming to address gaps in evidence and decision-making for pregnant women
within the CJS. Co-production with Birth Companions and their Lived Experience Team (LET) is integral, involving
substantial input from the LET in various aspects. This paper, written collaboratively, explores the success stories,
challenges, and impact of co-production on The Lost Mothers Project, emphasising the profound role of the LET
in reshaping the criminal justice landscape for mothers within the system.
The LET, comprised of mothers with direct CJS experience, assumes a central role as co-creators and decision-makers,
providing invaluable insights into systemic issues. The co-design process, exemplified by refining the project’s title
and logo, showcases collaborative efforts to reduce isolation and emphasise the transformative power of co-production. Challenges in co-production, such as power dynamics and language barriers, are acknowledged, with strategies
for overcoming them discussed. The project’s commitment to non-hierarchical co-production ensures equal partnership among all stakeholders. Remuneration for the LET is prioritised, avoiding tokenistic engagement.
The co-production paradigm in The Lost Mothers Project contributes to a more compassionate, equitable, and effective criminal justice system. This article concludes that co-production is not just a slogan but a cornerstone
for empowering sometimes disempowered populations and fostering positive change in the criminal justice landscape. The transformative impact of the LET in actively shaping the research, coupled with their role as decision-makers, highlights the significance of lived experience engagement in reshaping narratives and creating inclusive research
practices within criminal justice studies.
Keywords Lived experience, Lost Mothers, Co-production, Collaboration, Criminal justice system
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Involvement and Engagement
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 May 2024


  • co- production
  • Lived Experience
  • collaboration
  • Lost Mothers
  • Criminal Justice System


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