Young adults, aged 18-25, are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system. They make up less than 10% of the general population, but account for more than a third of the probation service's caseload and almost a third of those sentenced to prison each year.
Young adults are also the group most likely to grow out of crime if the right conditions are available. However, young people in the criminal justice system can fall between the gaps in their transition to adulthood and they lose the very support or intervention that might help them.
The right interventions can support desistance from offending, while the wrong response can increase offending and extend the period that a young adult is engaged with criminal justice agencies.
Voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system have pioneered successful approaches to working with young adults. This knowledge and intelligence has been gathered, alongside academic research, to develop the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Pathway Approach which, in turn, has supported the development of further good practice amongst voluntary groups.
Between 2008-2017, T2A pilot projects demonstrated the value and benefit of working with local voluntary organisations in the development, design and delivery of services for young adults. Voluntary organisations:
- Have the potential capacity to be led by the needs and aspirations of the service user
- Offer engagement that is flexible in length and intensity
- Have specialist services that respond to, and directly involve, the local communities within which they work
- Give the people they engage with involvement in the design and delivery of services
- Offer support outside traditional office-based appointments, such as meetings in community settings or in the home)
- Provide flexible advocacy, such as accompanying individuals to appointments with other agencies
- Provide successful recruitment, training, management and involvement of volunteers
- Have the potential to access resources not available to the statutory sector.
The pilot projects found that engagement is voluntary, leading to trusting relationships not bound to formal supervision as part of court orders and that is not breachable for non-compliance.
Clinks thinks the Ministry of Justice should produce a national strategy for the management of young adults aged 18-25 at all stages of the criminal justice system, as recommended by the Justice Select Committee. This would deliver a distinct approach to young adults, design services that support desistance from crime, based on evidence and service user consultation, and based on the evidence gathered by the Transition to Adulthood Alliance.
What Clinks is doing
Clinks works to support voluntary sector organisations working to combat the over-representation of young adults in the criminal justice system by promoting the need for a fresh approach through the Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A).
Clinks is one of the founding members of the Transition to Adulthood Alliance and supports its programme of work. The Alliance is a broad coalition of organisations and individuals that identifies and promotes the need for a distinct and radically different approach to young adults - an approach that is proportionate to their maturity, and responsive to their specific needs.
How to get involved with the Clinks group that advises the Ministry of Justice
Summary note of the RR3 Future Regime Design SIG meeting
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The Transition to Adulthood Alliance aims to develop and promote evidence of effective policy and practice for young adults and women at all stages of the criminal justice system.