More than one in 10 young offenders have contemplated committing
suicide and a similar number have deliberately hurt themselves, a
report published by the Youth Justice Board last week
About half of young offenders often feel miserable or sad, a
quarter have difficulties eating or sleeping, and a third feel
worried about their health or would like help on a health issue,
the study reveals.
“The report underlines the board’s concerns about the mental health
needs of young people in the youth justice system,” the YJB said.
Its annual review published last week shows that access to services
such as child and adolescent mental health services is patchy
across England and Wales.
The Speaking Out report, based on extensive research commissioned
by the board in 2001 and 2002, also finds that 70 per cent of young
offenders have been excluded from school at some time.
A third need help with reading or writing, and 14 per cent need
special help with education but claim they have not received
Almost two-thirds of young offenders come from broken families and
58 per cent have a family member who has a criminal record.
Young people also see themselves as labelled according to the area
they come from, the report finds. Half of young offenders feel it
is easy to access drugs, and more than two-thirds say they have
friends who get into trouble.
Antisocial behaviour orders are considered a major deterrent to
offending because of the value young people place on their freedom,
but the threat of a custodial sentence appears to be the most
powerful deterrent, the report finds.
One-fifth of young offenders in young offenders’ institutions say
they have been physically restrained by staff, 18 per cent have
spent a night in a segregation unit and a quarter have been
assaulted by another young person.
Although almost all of the young offenders say they want to stop
offending, 37 per cent say they received no help in finding
accommodation shortly before they left custody and more than half
have no job or college place to go to.
Most young offenders say they have not received any preparation
from the authorities for returning to life in the community.
– Speaking Out from 0870 1207 400.