What happens to persistent and serious young offenders when they grow up?

A follow-up study of the first recipients of intensive supervision and surveillance; Emily Gray, Keele University

Since its inception, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) of the UK has initiated several innovative programs to try to reduce youth crime and to reduce re-offending. Consistent with the principles of evidence-based policies, favoured by the governments of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the YJB also undertook to have its initiatives evaluated, and to publish the results. The following is excerpted from an evaluation of the UK Youth Justice Board Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP). The ISSP provided more extensive liaison, supervision and support counselling to young offenders than is usually available

In 2001, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) launched the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP). Targeted at persistent and, later, serious young offenders, it aimed to tackle the underlying needs of young people, reduce re-offending, and reassure the community. In 2008, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act put ISSP on a statutory footing as one of a range of interventions that could be attached to a Youth Rehabilitation Order.

The ISSP and control groups displayed remarkably similar trajectories in the frequency of offending at all time points. Indeed, there were no long-term differences between the groups after the programme ended.

The data demonstrated a steep downward trend in the frequency and seriousness of offending for the ISSP sample as a whole, although there was considerable variation within the sample. Very similar patterns were identified in the comparison sample. Indeed, sharp post-test reductions are typical for this population of persistent and serious offenders (Cook and Campbell, 1979; Sherman et al, 1997; Smith, 2005; Moore et al, 2006). In terms of its effect on long-term offending patterns,5 ISSP proved no better and certainly no worse than other community6 or custodial disposals.
5 Up to four years post intervention.
6 The community disposals received by the comparison group were Supervision Orders and Community Rehabilitation Orders without Intensive Supervision and Surveillance.

Despite the disappointing results, the researchers report that the program is nonetheless a cost-effective alternative to custody. They recommend that the importance of delinquent youth having a trust relationship with a responsible adult is vital, and they also recommend that restorative justice measures be integrated into such programs where possible and appropriate.

http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/research-and-analysis/yjb/issp-follow-up-report.pdf

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