Calls For Social Work Support For Young Adult Offenders

(Community Care) – 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.

It argued this amounted to ‘little value for money,’ pointing out that re-offending 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.

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.’

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