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Overhaul of resettlement support needed

NACRO has gathered evidence that demonstrates that too often support services for children in custody are patchy and planning for release starts too late. This hampers their chances of successful resettlement.

They call for young people to be prepared for release the moment they enter custody, with education and training programmes made available immediately and tailored to an individual’s needs, and a place in stable accommodation found well before the person is released. 

Their report – Effective Resettlement of Young People – considers findings from the first three years of the programme.

It found that while the number of under-18s in custody has steadily fallen in recent years, reoffending rates among young people remain high at 68%.

The report pins much of the blame for the high reoffending rate on the failure of the system to use a custodial sentence as a way of turning lives around. 

Lord Dholakia, president of Nacro, said:

“It is shocking that so little time is spent in custody preparing young people to leave and turn their lives around in the community. It is no surprise that too many young people return to negative behaviours and that more than two in three reoffend within the year. Children and young adults in custody are some of the most vulnerable in society and while the nature of some young people’s offending may result in a custodial sentence, incarceration will rarely solve the social problems caused by youth crime, nor does it resolve an individual’s offending behaviour. We must support young people to lead constructive lives when they are released from custody.”

The report asks for:

  • better co-ordination between young offender institutions and community services to develop and deliver multi-agency, tailored packages of care and support that meet the needs of young people. 
  • greater priority to be given to engaging young people in the resettlement process and encouraging them to forge strong and trusted relationships with youth justice professionals. 
  • more transition support for young people when they leave custody, as well as support for families so they can help the young person adapt to life in the community away from old negative influences.