National Evaluation of Youth Justice Board Mentoring
Schemes 2001 to 2004
Ian St James-Roberts et al, Thomas Coram Research Unit,
University of London
Although there is much value in mentoring, according to the recent evaluation of the Youth Justice Board’s mentoring schemes it is unlikely to provide a cost-effective means of preventing or tackling crime. Between 2001 and 2004 the Youth Justice Board supported 80 community projects involving nearly 3,000 young people with an average age of 14, each matched with a mentor recruited from the community whose aim was to build up a trusting relationship and provide a role model.
The team evaluated the projects’ effectiveness in teaching basic literacy and numeracy as well as social or life skills to young people who had offended or were at risk of offending.
The evaluation team found that mentoring programmes varied considerably in length and form, but that an average programme included eight meetings between a mentor and a young person. Almost half of those on a longer programme lasting more than 10 months and entailing an average of 15 meetings entered or re-entered education or training. Improvements were also found in attendance and behaviour at school, in literacy and numeracy skills and family relationships and accommodation.
However, it has proved diffi cult to measure any reduction in offending, partly due to constraints on data. Many young people referred to the project also refused to take part or did not get on
with their mentor.
Rather than short, one-off programmes, one suggestion is that services should be integrated and co-ordinated over time.
Professional intervention using the “social pedagogue” model developed in several European countries, combing both care and education, could also help.