A new £3m project is being created in order to stop young offenders from becoming “career criminals”. The scheme will work with offenders aged 18-25 who are on licence, probation or doing community service.
The hopes for the new London hub, the first of its kind, will hopefully save an average of £18 billion spent on annual costs for repeat crimes.
The offenders will be able to visit a hub in Newham where they will have access to training, help with addiction and mental health support.
Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland MP has stated that projects like the hub are particularly important because of the pandemic.
“Covid has taught us a lot about the challenges that every system has to deal with, as well as the mental health challenges that all of us face, young people included.
“As we come out of the pandemic, it’s not just about recovering services. It is about reforming them and improving them. I think that this hub is very much part of that. If it is successful, it will be rolled out further” he said.
The project is being funded by the Ministry of Justice and the Mayor of London’s office and could be rolled out in England and Wales if it works. Reports have shown that the service held, for more than a decade, failed to help young adult prisoners rehabilitate – putting communities at risk from reoffenders.
The Ministry of Justice has reported that on average, a third of men aged 18-20 reoffend within a year, this is a fifth for women of the same age.
It is said that the project will start in July and will begin to roll out further over the next two years over England and Wales. It will then become easier to see from the hundreds of people who have taken part to see how it works.
Nadine Smith, 24, is part of the Young Justice Advisors group. They have been talking to government officials about the hub. “I think the pilot project is very important. But it also needs to be run in the right way,” she tells us.
“The fact that the government is taking the steps to involve young adults in the design of this service, is a credit to them.”
There is hope at the end… Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: “This ground-breaking new model will help offenders get their lives back on the straight-and-narrow before it’s too late and they become career criminals.
“It will mean less reoffending and fewer people becoming victims of crime while also giving these young adults all the tools they need to make the most of their lives.” It will put a range of specialist support services for 18 to 25-year-olds “under one roof”.
“Young adults have a particularly high risk of reoffending and are more likely to carry out drug, robbery and possession of weapons offences, and be caught up in gang crime,” said the Ministry of Justice.
Sources added: “This support is already available but bringing this range of services under one roof and tackling these complex issues together at an early stage can prevent thousands of people becoming victims each year.”
London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, said: “It is vital that we do everything we can to prevent reoffending and give young people who have been through the criminal justice system the support they need to turn their lives around.”
The pilot will launch in July and run until March 2023 for 18 to 25-year-olds who are assessed as having low levels of maturity and 17-year-olds transitioning from the Youth Offending Service to adult probation. It will then be externally evaluated and, if it proves a success at reducing reoffending and improving outcomes for this cohort, rolled out across the country.
The MoJ said all staff will receive specific training in the brain development of young people.
“Young adults have distinct needs, which are different to both older adults and children and treating them as a specific group will ensure the root causes of their offending are spotted and addressed earlier on in their development,” it added.
The £3 million funding for the new hub is part of a £220 million package from the Government to tackle crime, including £148 million to protect people from “the scourge of illegal drugs” and £70 million to support offenders into temporary accommodation upon release.