The “sky-high” rate of reoffending by young criminals must be reversed, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said today as they unveiled radical proposals to rehabilitate young offenders through better education and training.
Almost three quarters of young offenders return to crime when they are released. Currently, young offenders spend on average just 12 hours a week in education under new proposals this would be more than double to give young offenders much more time in the classroom or workshop to help them develop the skills they need to turn their back on crime.
Under the plans to transform youth custody, a pioneering Secure College will be built in the East Midlands. The fortified school will provide young offenders with strong discipline, while focusing squarely on rehabilitation and education. The Secure College will have a head teacher or principal at the core of a leadership team made up of educational professionals and offender managers.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
“Criminals can’t go unpunished, but young people who’ve made mistakes and committed crime can’t simply be left on the scrapheap. If we expect them to turn their lives around, we have to put their time inside to good use.
“The Coalition has reduced the number of young people in custody. But reoffending is sky high in this country and the answer lies in education and opportunity to change. We need to make sure that time spent in custody is time well spent – an opportunity to turn lives around.
“We can do this by helping young offenders develop the skills and training they need to break the destructive cycle of crime.
“Some young offenders spend less than one school day a week in the classroom. By increasing the amount of time young offenders spend learning, we can help them to move away from crime, take responsibility for their actions, and rebuild their lives.”
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling:
“Nearly three-quarters of young offenders who leave custody reoffend within a year; clearly the system as it is at the moment isn’t working.
“It’s right that the most serious or persistent young offenders face custody but we must use this time to tackle the root cause of their offending and give them the skills and self-discipline they need to gain employment or training upon release.
“Young people themselves tell me that better education and training would help them get on to the right path and become law-abiding, productive and hard working citizens.”
At any one time, there are about 1,000 young people in youth custody across Britain. Nearly three quarters of young offenders who leave custody reoffend within a year. In order to help them turn their backs on crime, education, vocational training and work skills will become a central part of a young offender’s daily routine, giving them the tools they need to turn their lives around and increase their chances of getting a job after release.
The Government is also taking steps to improve the help given to young offenders when they leave custody so that more are encouraged to go into education, training or employment and fewer go on to reoffend.