Press release

Greater focus on education in youth estate

Young offenders should receive better education and training to turn their backs on crime Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Young offenders should receive better education and training to turn their backs on crime Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced today with the publication of a radical Green Paper.

At present, the average cost of a youth custodial place is £100 000 per annum- with some as much as £200 000 - while 73% of young offenders who leave custody reoffend within a year.

The vast majority of 15-17 year olds in Young Offender Institutions have been excluded from school at some point.  Half of those in this age group are assessed as having the literacy levels to that expected of a 7 -11 year old, learning disabilities are generally more prevalent among young people in custody, and education provision within the youth estate is patchy.

Many young offenders come from difficult and chaotic backgrounds, and custody may actually provide the opportunity to provide the education, skills, self discipline and self respect to turn those young people who have started off in the wrong direction back in the right one.

With a range of contracts for youth custody coming to an end in the near future, the Green Paper published today provides the real opportunity to explore a radically different approach. ‘Transforming Youth Custody: Putting Education at the Heart of Detention’ aims to deliver value for the taxpayer, reduce reoffending and set young offenders on the path to a better life.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:

‘Some youth custodial places cost £200 000, five times the cost of sending a child to a top private school.  But nearly three quarters of young people leaving custody reoffend. 

‘We cannot go on just doing more of the same, pouring more money into a system doesn’t work in the hope of a different outcome.  That doesn’t make any sense to the taxpayer, or to the young people who we should be trying to get back on the straight and narrow.

‘I want to see new models, perhaps something like secure colleges, providing education in a period of detention, rather than detention with education as an after-thought. I want young people to get the education and skills they need to turn their backs on crime for good.’

Professionals from the education sector, custodial services and organisations with an interest in young people are among those being consulted on a complete transformation of youth custody.

The Green Paper looks at the Free Schools programme and Academies programmes - which have secured improvements in education standards well above the national average and turned around some of the worst-performing secondary schools in the country. The paper says that to improve outcomes for young people in custody we need to draw on this experience and bring new expertise and providers into the market.

This builds on the Justice Secretary’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ paper published last month which set out plans for reforming the management of adult offenders.

Notes to editors:

  1. View the consultation ‘Transforming Youth Custody: Putting Education at the Heart of Detention’ - it seeks views and proposals from a broad range of stakeholders and providers, including education providers with experience in the academies and free schools sectors, on how youth custody can deliver improved education and reoffending outcomes while driving down costs.  
  2. In the 12 months to June 2012, 3,645 of all young offenders sentenced received a custodial sentence.  In 2011/12, boys made up 94% of all young people in custody and girls 6% - 17 year old boys accounted for over half (55%).
  3. According to the latest reoffending statistics for 2011/12, 73% of young offenders reoffended within a year of leaving custody, compared to 47% of adults leaving custody.
  4. The youth secure estate currently consists of three different types of detention including Young Offender Institutions (YOIs), Secure Training Centres (STCs) and Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs).  In 2012/13 the Youth Justice Board expects to spend approximately £245 million on the detention of young offenders:
* A place in a Secure Children's Home costs an average of £212,000 per annum  

* A place in a Secure Training Centre costs an average of £178,000 per annum
* A place in a Young Offender Institution costs an average of £65,000 per annum.   5. YOIs are contracted to deliver 15 hours of education per week, though this is not frequently achieved.  Of 15-17 year olds entering YOIs, half were assessed as having the literacy levels of a 7-11 year old; of 15-17 year olds 88% of young men and 74% of young women had been excluded from school. 18% of young people in custody (under sentence) had a statement of special educational needs, compared to 3% in the general population.   6. For more information please call the Ministry of Justice Press Office on 0203 334 3536. Follow us on twitter @MoJGovUK and @MoJPress.
Published 14 February 2013