Welfare ‘is key’ to successful release

A welfare charity has called for a national co-ordinated strategy
to keep young people out of prison and prevent re-offending.

The Michael Sieff Foundation says the current system of locking up
young offenders is not working and an alternative must be found.

It points to statistics showing that three out of four young men
re-offend within two years of release.

The founder of the foundation, Lady Elizabeth Haslam, says:
“Instead of the present failing incarceration system, a
welfare-centred approach is needed, recognising that many of the
11,600 young people up to the age of 21 in prison come from violent
or neglectful homes, from local authority care and are often
emotionally disturbed and without basic education and job

“We know that key factors for going straight are a stable home and
a steady job, so any strategy for reducing further offending needs
to combine them as an in-built, clear cut purpose.”

The strategy should be focused on protecting the child’s human
rights and should be in place during and after custodial sentences,
she added.

It should include access to independent advocacy services and
personal mentors for young prisoners in custody and also
post-release in the community.

Local authority chief executives should set up pilot regeneration
projects that provide stable jobs and accommodation for young
offenders on release.

The foundation is calling on government ministers to address
popular misconceptions about young offenders and for research to be
undertaken into areas such as why young people re-offend, what
works in preventing re-offending and how best the education system
can help at-risk children.

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