To build the evidence for the T2A campaign, six projects, running since 2009, have tested different approaches to improving services for young adults in the criminal justice system.
Of these, three main T2A pilots have enabled demonstration of different community interventions, all focussed on the twin priorities of managing transition and taking account of developmental maturity. Each project is tailored to the needs of the individual, with the aim of reducing both the risk of reoffending and social exclusion.
The T2A pilots are in Birmingham, West Mercia and London, and are delivered by Staffordshire and West Midlands Probation Trust, YSS and the St Giles Trust respectively. The pilots have been subject to a formative evaluation by the University of Oxford’s Centre for Criminology, completed at the start of 2011, which identified promising early results and highlighted the pilots’ success in engaging young adults in actions which will help them towards better lives.
A summative evaluation of the three T2A pilots by Catch 22 tracked a random sample of 34 young people over a six month period, measuring outcomes based around the offender pathways used by the National Offender Management Service, including reoffending, accommodation, employment, health and families. The results were very encouraging:
- Only 9% of young people were reconvicted in this time;
- Only 9% breached the terms of their communnity order or licence;
- Employment rates trebled; and
- NEET (not in education, employment or training) levels halved.
More detail about the three main T2A pilots, and a film about each, is found below.
London T2A, run by St Giles Trust, initially worked across Southwark and Croydon with young adults in prison prior to their release, and during and after release into the community. It provided intensive support to divert young adults, principally young men, away from offending and enables them to build a new life for themselves. Support offered includes help with housing, accessing training and employment, as well as emotional support with issues such as relationships, behaviour, self esteem and self perception. The service is delivered by staff who are all ex-offenders, which helps to provide a level of trust and credibility with the young adults. Croydon Probation made direct referrals to the service, and the local Youth Offending Team invited the T2A teams to work alongside their key workers on some cases. In 2012, Croydon Probation set up its own young adult service, based in large part on the learning from the T2A pilot. From 2012-13, the T2A pilot is running in Westminster and Brent, working with young people in the community ‘cross-borough’. As well as working with local probation and YOS, the T2A team has built up good relationships with the local police, who also refer young adults directly to the T2A teams.
West Mercia T2A is run by YSS and works with young adult offenders with high needs in the community. The project offers a flexible, community based, one-to-one support and mentoring service, using a mixture of paid staff and local volunteers. Each young adult on the T2A project determines what level of support they require, including support for family members. The key worker steers them through the available provision, overcoming any barriers and provides feedback to agencies to influence service practice and policy development. Each young person develops their own action plan with smart objectives. Staff are responsive to need and flexible in their approach due to the potential changing and chaotic lifestyles of the young adults involved. YSS has established a robust multi-agency T2A steering group with senior management representation from across the criminal justice system, and the T2A project encourages regular discourse between the West Mercia Probation Trust and the Youth Offending Team. The project operates across the Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford local authority areas. In 2012, YSS became the ‘preferred provider’ for West Mercia Probation Trust, and at the end of 2012, the Trust took over the running of Youth Offending Services across the region, which is likely to lead to radical reforms in how young people in the transition to adulthood are managed.
Birmingham T2A is delivered by the Staffordshire and West Midlands Probation Trust and is aimed at young adults aged 17-24 years of age identified as posing a medium risk of reoffending. The project enables intervention to be tailored to the maturity and needs of the individual young adult and offers mentoring, as well as specific help with accommodation, employment, relationships and substance misuse, depending on their needs. It also aims to instil change in the young adults’ lives, to enhance their life opportunities, to influence their choices and to move them away from crime, reduce worklessness and improve emotional well-being. The project manages the transfer process of all young people moving across from the Youth Offending Service to adult Probation services, and works in the courts to ensure that sentencers are kept informed about community options and alternatives to custody, particularly following breach of an order. The pilot’s ‘youth to adult transfer protocol has been recognised as best practice by the Youth Justice Board, the Independent Riots, Communities and Victim’s Panel, and the Inspectorate of Probation.