New research addresses worrying gap in knowledge about resettlement of girls and young women

Beyond Youth Custody’s research report, “Resettlement of girls and young women”, addresses a worrying gap in the knowledge about the effective resettlement of girls and young women. Reviewing research literature in a number of relevant areas, it cross-references evidence of what works in the resettlement of young people with what we know about the wider need of girls and young women. This iterative synthesis approach thus provides a gender-sensitive approach to inform policy and practice development in resettlement for this specific group.

Recent years has seen an increasing focus on the resettlement of young people after custody, with a number of initiatives designed to address stubbornly high reoffending rates. However, the specific needs of girls and young women have received little attention in policy and practice. This is worrying gap because research with adult female offenders consistently warns that what works with male offenders is unlikely to work with females.

The resettlement needs of girls and young women have been ignored partly because they make up a small proportion of the custodial population, and partly because they usually offend less frequently and seriously than young males.

Academics have also largely ignored the needs of this group in resettlement. This is reflective of relatively limited numbers of studies on women in the criminal justice system more generally, but with even less known about younger females, and less still around custody.

This report provides gender-sensitive perspective of the established gender-neutral principles of what works in resettlement with young people. The report first considers the contemporary policy context for the resettlement of girls and young women, specifically in relation to Transforming Youth Custody. Literature searches then focused on reasons behind female youth offending, reviews judicial responses to this group, details the characteristics of young females in custody, and reflects on lessons from interventions with older females. Finally, the report draws on any resettlement studies or interventions that have previously included some focus on girls or young women’s specific needs.

The full research report “Resettlement of girls and young women” is now available to read.