YJB urged to investigate cost-effectiveness of custodial places

The Youth Justice Board has been urged by a group of MPs to
commission research into the cost-effectiveness of the three types
of establishment in which a young offender could serve a custodial
sentence, writes Clare Jerrom.

The public accounts committee warns that the average annual cost
of custodial places varies significantly, but no research has been
carried out about their relative effectiveness.

A place in a local authority secure children’s home costs
around £185,000 reflecting the high staff to child ratio.
Privately-run Secure Training Centres cost £164,750 while a
place in a young offender institution costs £50,800 for an
annual place.

The committee urges the YJB to carry out the research into each
option’s cost-effectiveness “in terms of re-offending
rates and the welfare of the young person”.

However, the report raises questions over the effectiveness of
locking children up as of the seven per cent of children sentenced
to custody, eight out of 10 re-offend. It also slams short periods
in custody as “unlikely to make an impact on offending

Chair of the committee Edward Leigh added that he was concerned
that the proportion of young offenders given custodial sentences
varies significantly across the country. He urged the Board to work
closely with courts to ensure there was sufficient space in custody
and improve the confidence in community sentences.

He highlighted that over half the offenders on the Intensive
Supervision and Surveillance Programme failed to complete the
course and a quarter are re-sentenced to custody.

The report backs recent research from the University of Oxford
into ISSPs which found that 85 per cent of young people were
reconvicted at some point within 12 months of the programme’s
start. The report said this was “unsurprising” given
the profile of the young people.

However it found there was a “marked reduction” in
the seriousness and frequency of offending among the young people
on the programme.

This week Leigh added that if community sentences were to be a
credible alternative to custody they needed to be administered
effectively and consistently across the country. He urged the Board
to identify why some offenders were failing to complete the

The committee highlighted that Youth Offending Team staff often
faced difficulties placing young people back into education,
employment or suitable housing and urged a more joined-up approach
between the relevant government departments and local

Community Care’s ‘Back on Track’ campaign is
calling for a dramatic reduction in the number of young people
being held in custody and for the greater use of community
sentences instead.

Public accounts committee report from:-

For further information about our campaign ‘Back
on Track’
:- www.communitycare.co.uk/backontrack

For more information on ISSP:-



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