Coalition wants social work support for young adult offenders

Young adults leaving custody should get similar support and supervision to care leavers including a social worker and personal adviser, according to proposals published today.

The Transition to Adulthood Alliance, made up of eleven criminal justice organisations and charities, called for the measure as part of a package of recommendations to boost support for offenders aged 18-24.

The coalition’s report, A New Start, highlighted that young adults committed a third of all crimes, costing the taxpayer between £16-20bn a year.

Little value for money

It argued this amounted to “little value for money”, pointing out that reoffending rates remained “persistently high” at 75%.

The report urged the government to consider a “wholesale shift” in the system for 18- to 24-year-old offenders. Currently, over half are unemployed on arrest and have higher than average rates of self-harm and suicide, according to statistics cited by the coalition.

It made 21 recommendations including urging the government to look at replacing prison sentences lasting six months or less with community sentences, and ensuring young adults had full assessments and accommodation arranged by social services on release from custody.

Take age into account

Courts should also take the age of young adults into account as a “mitigating factor” when sentencing them.

Rob Allen, Director of the T2A Alliance and a former Youth Justice Board member, said: “For too long criminal policy has neglected the special needs of young adults, resulting in high rates of imprisonment and re-offending among this age group.

“We need a comprehensive rethink of measures  for young people in transition to adulthood so that more grow out of crime , more are diverted from prison and those who are detained are given every chance to make a new start in their lives.”   

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