Mentoring schemes for young offenders are expensive and do not work, a new Youth Justice Board study has found.
Mentoring “succeeded in some respects – particularly in reintegrating young people into education, training and the community,” says the report.
However, it finds that young people are reluctant to be mentored and that questions about effectiveness and cost of the scheme remain.
The research failed to “find evidence of improvements in behaviour, literacy and numeracy” and does not “provide convincing evidence of a reduction in offending”.
The study analyses 80 mentoring projects for young offenders, or young people at risk of offending, supported by the Youth Justice Board
between 2001 and 2004. About half the programmes ended earlier than planned.
The findings do not support an expansion of mentoring for young offenders.
Mentoring is “substantially more expensive than alternatives that produce similar benefits”, such as the Youth Justice Board’s education, training and employment schemes, the research finds.
Many young people refused to take part in mentoring. Less than half (2,045 out of 4,828) young people referred to schemes in the study took part.
On average, mentoring programmes consist of eight meetings, around 20 hours. The report suggests this is not long enough for work with very vulnerable young people as many on the schemes had serious emotional and behavioural difficulties.
The government’s Respect action plan on antisocial behaviour, published earlier this month, promises to expand mentoring schemes for young people.