• New approach brings together organisations that can help young offenders
  • Programme allocated £150,000 funding from Deputy Mayor
  • Young people to be supported to achieve their goals

Young offenders should be supported with consistent and comprehensive support to help them reintegrate from custody into society, a conference has been told today (Thursday 4 February).

Young people serving their sentence at a young offender institution need to be equipped with life skills, education, work experience, help with their health, and the social support of family and friends, delegates were told.

However, not every young person from Greater Manchester receives this support to a consistently high standard, said Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire.

The Deputy Mayor was opening an online conference to bring together the Greater Manchester Resettlement Consortium.

This is a group of organisations which have come together to ensure consistently high standards in the resettlement and rehabilitation of young offenders across Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs.

The Deputy Mayor has allocated £150,000 over three years to fund the programme, which is part of Greater Manchester’s work to improve youth justice. This funding has been used to commission Positive Steps, a youth justice service provider, to manage the consortium.

The programme also contributes to Greater Manchester’s work to reduce serious and violent crime.

The Deputy Mayor said: “There is a great deal of good practice across Greater Manchester supporting young people who have served their sentence to reintegrate into society.

“However, that good work is not consistent enough across all our boroughs and as a result not all young people are getting the support they need.

“That means that not only are their lives blighted but also that our communities are at continued risk of their reoffending.”

Organisations attending the conference include health commissioners, further education colleges and local authorities as well as the youth custody service and probation.

The conference heard that, in Greater Manchester:

  • 70% of young people go on to reoffend, after a sentence of less than 12 months
  • 37% of young people are held in locations that are more than 50 miles from home, mostly in Wetherby, West Yorkshire
  • There are unusually high proportions of young people from a minority ethnic background, and those who have been “looked after” in the care system

Analysis of the backgrounds of young offenders from Greater Manchester showed they faced many challenges and disadvantages before going into custody.

These include exploitation, neglect, childhood trauma, poor mental and physical health, and poor educational achievement.

Young people therefore need much more comprehensive support to overcome these issues not only during their time in custody but also continuing when they are released, to help them establish purposeful lives for the future.

Delegates were asked to adopt an approach promoted by the national Youth Justice Board called “constructive resettlement”.

Academic Neal Hazel, who has researched the evidence on this method, set out the principles to the conference.

The approach involves working with the young person to identify their strengths and goals and then providing personalised support to help the young person contribute positively to society.

The practical support might include:

  • Supported housing, so the young person has a safe place to live
  • Healthcare, for example language therapy to improve speech and participation
  • Education and training, to help get the skills for a job
  • Leisure, to look after health and participate constructively with other people

The Deputy Mayor added: “The challenge we are setting today is for all our public services and the voluntary and community sector to work together and rethink the way they work with young offenders.

“What support could they provide, for example in training or healthcare, and how could they start to provide that before the young person is due to leave custody, continue after release and maximise the opportunities for that young person to make a successful transition to a constructive, positive future?”


Article Published: 04/02/2021 11:52 AM