Back on Track: Background Information



These are just some of the problems that have become an everyday
reality for many of the 2,500 children and young people and the
8,500 18-21 year olds who are currently living behind bars in the

We lock up more youngsters who offend under 21 years of age than
any other country in Europe.  But the conditions in many young
offender institutions are often poor and unacceptable, failing to
meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people. 

The effect this is having on those in custody, combined with the
impact it is likely to have when they are released, a matter of 
intense concern.  The violation of human rights and the lack of
respect shown for our young people should not be tolerated and the
Government has a duty to address those issues which are hampering
progress in prisons.  It must also do more to promote the positive
reintegration of these young people on completing their

Community Care acting editor Mark Ivory said:
“The Government seems to be using prison as the solution to
youth crime but despite increasing numbers in  custody, the problem
is getting worse not better.  Reoffending rates are high with more
than 80% of young people committing more offences within two years
of release.  Not only is custody expensive but it’s clear
that it is just not working.”

Young offenders’ experience of prison varies widely but
the horror stories emerging from institutions are becoming all too
common.  The new chair of the Youth Justice Board, Professor Rod
Morgan, recently admitted that conditions in some young offender
institutions remain “unacceptable”.  Overcrowding,
bullying, self-harm, physical, sexual and emotional abuse are just
some of the widespread problems in our youth justice system.
Despite Government efforts to tackle these, research suggests that
a new approach is needed if we are going to get these young people
back on track.. 

The label ‘young offenders’ masks the fact that
these are vulnerable children and young people. They may be in
trouble with the law but they should still have the same human
rights as any other child or young person in the UK.

Community Care is campaigning for all young people who commit
offences to receive better standards of treatment and
rehabilitation whilst in custody in order to help them reintegrate
with society when they leave and minimize the risks of

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