T2A (Transition to Adulthood) welcomes the publication of this important short thematic report on Outcomes for Young Adults in Custody which makes it clear that there is a lack of a clear strategy for young adults in custody, resulting in lost opportunities and poor outcomes. Although some individuals working in the prison system are highly motivated, their efforts are hampered by the lack of a systematic approach, integrated strategy and limited resources for this age group.
The Chief Inspector’s report endorses many of the key findings and recommendations of a decade of T2A research and other independent reviews of how this age group are dealt with in prisons. We have long-advocated for distinct prison estate accommodation for this age group — separate from the over 25s — including well-tailored, developmentally-appropriate regimes that addresses the distinct needs – and opportunities for change – presented by young adults. Outcomes for young adults have been poor for a considerable time and will be exacerbated by the current pandemic. T2A has been particularly concerned about outcomes for people of colour, people identifying as gypsy, traveller and Roma, and care experienced young people in and following custody. A more effective approach would understand the experiences of these people as well as young adults more generally and build on the numerous examples of effective practice undertaken in other jurisdictions in the UK and internationally.
The Government can do more to stop these young people from becoming lifelong criminals who undermine our public safety. It is imperative that this evidence and the volume of credible voices calling for change are reflected in the Sentencing Bill when it comes before Parliament, otherwise an ‘open goal’ opportunity to reduce reoffending and be smarter about how we treat this group will be missed.
Joyce Moseley, Chair of T2A said: “It is frustrating that despite practitioner, academic, government and Inspectorate findings, we have seen so little progress for young adults at a time when the criminal justice system so needs an evidence-based strategy to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. If the Government fails to act on yet one more damning report it will be another indictment of its failure to respond to the needs of a lost generation of young people, locking them into a cycle of crime and undermining public safety.