Press release

Young criminals must be punished, but education is the cure

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

Doubling the time spent on schooling for young offenders will help cut reoffending #YouthCustody

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.

Video with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

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 doubled 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.

Transforming Youth Custody infographic

Notes to editors:

  1. The Secure College will be purpose-built and designed around a fully-equipped education facility, with modern living blocks to accommodate young offenders. Every young person will have an Individual Learning Plan that they will be expected to achieve while in custody and which will continue after release in the community. This plan will ensure that upon leaving custody the local Youth Offending Team can continue the programme of work started in the Secure College.
  2. Building work for the Secure College will begin in 2015 and it will open in 2017. It will house up to 320 young offenders aged 12-17. Legislation will shortly be introduced to create Secure Colleges as a new form of youth detention accommodation.
  3. As we develop the Secure College we are launching a competition for new organisations to bid to provide education within the current publicly-run Young Offender Institutions (YOIs). The new contracts, which will come into effect in late 2014, will seek to more than double the number of hours contracted education that young offenders receive each week. At the moment, young offenders receive an average of 12 hours a week contracted education, though it ranges from 5-15 hours across the YOI estate. The contracts will be overseen by the Youth Justice Board, rather than the Education Funding Agency, ensuring that education is fully integrated into a new regime for young offenders in custody.
  4. It is proposed that the new Secure College will be built on land adjacent to HM YOI Glen Parva (an establishment for young adult offenders) in Leicestershire, for which the department already holds planning permission. The Secure College will serve young offenders from the Midlands and the East of England, though offenders from other areas could also be taken.
  5. The plans follow a full consultation with the public and stakeholders on the future of youth custody.
  6. The Transforming Youth Custody consultation sought the views and proposals of 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. The consultation ran from 14 February to 30 April 2013.
  7. There were 1,323 young people in youth custody in England and Wales at the end of November 2013. In the 12 months ending June 2013, 6.3% of all young offenders sentenced received a custodial sentence.
  8. In September 2013, boys made up 95% of all young people in custody and girls 5%. 15-17 year olds accounted for 89% of young people in custody, 18 year olds accounted for 7%, and 10-14 year olds accounted for 4%.
  9. For the 12 months ending December 2011 (the most recent period for which figures are available) 71% of young offenders re-offended within a year of leaving custody, compared to 46% of adults leaving custody.
  10. The youth custodial estate currently consists of three different types of detention: Young Offender Institutions, Secure Training Centres and Secure Children’s Homes. As of 1 January 2014 the youth custodial estate consists of:
  • Secure Children’s Homes – 166 places
  • Secure Training Centres – 301 beds
  • Young Offender Institutions – 1311 beds

In 2012/13 the Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board spent approximately £247 million on the detention of young offenders. The average cost of a place in each of these types of youth custody is:

  • 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.

For more information please call the Ministry of Justice Press Office on 0203 334 3536. Follow us on Twitter @MoJGovUK and @MoJPress. We are using #YouthCustody on Twitter for this announcement.