18 to 21 year old offenders need dedicated services, says chief inspector

The chief inspector of prisons called today for a new sector to be developed within the criminal justice system to cater for 18 to 21 year olds.

In a report, Anne Owers said placing the age group on sites also housing juveniles or adults had a “detrimental impact” on them, as they were given a “lower priority” on sites with juveniles and adult sites had “less tailored services” for them. 

Owers said young adults, who have the highest re-offending rates of any prisoners, needed a “discrete strategy” to meet their needs.

They had been left “exposed” by changes in the law, which are yet to be enforced, removing their right to be able to see out their sentences in young offender institutions, she said.

“It does not work just to decant young adults into the mainstream adult prison population”, she added.

The report said dedicated young adult units offered the best support to the age group, but dedicated units within adult training prisons offered “the next best solution” and called for these to be developed. 

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