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Catch22 Director of Justice responds to report on youth resettlement

Two criminal justice inspectorates, HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Probation, have today released a report on the joint inspection of resettlement work at young offender institutions (YOIs).

08 August 2019

Youth offender institutions (YOIs) house young people from the ages of 15 to 21 and the report focuses on the situation facing those who come out under the age of 18, when they are still children. The full report is available here.

In response to the report on youth (YOI) resettlement work, Lisa Smitherman, Director of Justice at Catch22, said:

“The statistics are stark: 70% of children and young people serving sentences of under 12 months go onto reoffend. This is, frankly, a failure of the system.

“Young offenders are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. They have often faced serious challenges in their young lives and require intensive support to unleash their potential and allow them to be active citizens who contribute positively to society.

“Too often, support in youth offender institutes is provided ‘to the gate’ – and upon release, things begin to become more fragmented.

“The most successful programmes – including Catch22’s Gang Exit and Violence Reduction programmes – work because they build trusted and consistent relationships with young people while in custody and continue those relationships beyond the prison gate. This is vital for successful resettlement and the figures speak for themselves; 80% of young people on our bail support and supervision support programme in Northamptonshire committed no further offences.

“The recommendations set out in today’s report go some way to addressing the problems – but will require buy-in from policy makers and governors, and tangible plans put together with partners in housing, education, and health and to put them into practice.

“Resettlement should start on day one of a sentence – not just before release. Support must be developed with the young person, be tailored to their needs, consistent, and vitally, coordinated between services.  That might be easier said than done, but research shows that when young people leave custody there is a window of opportunity when they are most optimistic and open to change. If young people are surrounded by the right people, have a decent place to live and have a real purpose, it can make a huge difference to both them and society as a whole.”