Substantial fall in numbers of young adults in the criminal justice system

There has been an 8% fall in the number of 18-24 year olds in both prison or serving sentences in the community over the last year, with all other adult age categories showing a rise in numbers.


The continuing fall in the numbers of children in custody and under community supervision is certain to be a contributing factor to this drop, as is the increasing recognition of the distinct needs of young adults by the police, prosecution, judiciary and probation services. The ‘T2A approach’, which includes taking account of maturity of young adults in criminal justice decision-making, is now being delivered on the ground in many parts of the country, led by Police and Crime Commissioners, probation providers, and through the six T2A Pathway projects.


Figures published today by the Ministry of Justice show that on 31 December 2014 there were 19,250 18-24 year olds serving community orders, and 11,083 serving suspended sentence orders, a total of 30,333 (a fall of 2,290 in one year). Young adults therefore represented 27% of the whole probation caseload.


12 months earlier on 31 December 2013, there were 21,310 18-24 year olds serving community orders, and 11,313 serving suspended sentence orders, a total of 32,623. A year earlier, therefore, young adults represented 29% of the caseload.


Overall, this represents an 8% fall in just one year in the numbers of young adults on the probation caseload, and compares to an overall increase of 1% (802) in the probation caseload of all other ages combined.


The latest prison population figures also show a significant decrease in the number of young adults aged 18-24 in prison, with fall of 8%. On 31 March 2015 there were 17,177 18-24 year olds in prison, compared to 18,534 12 months earlier, a fall of 1,357 (-8%). This compares to a rise of 2% (1,756) in the prison population for all other age groups combined. The number of 18-20 year olds in prison fell by 13%, while the number of young adult women aged 21-24 in prison on remand saw the biggest percentage fall of any age, gender and status type (down 23% in the year).