Read Pathways from Crime – ten steps to a more effective approach for young adults in the criminal justice process for more context and analysis of each step and recommendation.
Policing and arrest
Recommendation: The police should receive specific training for managing contact with young adults, particularly in relation to stop and search and, where possible, should seek to divert young adults into appropriate services away from the criminal justice process.
Recommendation: Drug, alcohol and mental health services should support young adults in the criminal justice process and have arrangements in place for managing the transition between child and adult services. Appropriate young adult diversion services should be commissioned via the Police and Crime Commissioners
Recommendation: Restorative justice should be considered for all young adult offenders at all stages of the criminal justice process, including pre-arrests, pre-sentence, and as part of a sentence.
Recommendation: As part of the decision-making process on arrest, charge and prosecution, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service should consider the ‘lack of maturity’ of a young offender, alongside current considerations of ‘youthfulness’ among the factors tending against prosecution, in line with similar considerations by probation and sentencers later in the process.
Recommendation: More should be done centrally and locally to develop the approach to identifying and responding to varying developmental maturity of young adults in the criminal justice process. Criminal justice professionals should support the sentencing process by ensuring that lack of maturity is identified. Pre-sentence reports by the probation service should consider the maturity of all young adult offenders, and clearly recommend and advocate to the court an effective response and, where appropriate, a robust community-based intervention.
Recommendation: The few existing examples of young adult specific community interventions that exist cross the country should be replicated nationally, and similar effective interventions should be available to all sentencers when sentencing a young adult. More should be done to develop the scope of the Attendance Centre requirement as well as tailoring other available community sentence options to the specific needs of young adults.
Managing the transfer process
Recommendation: All Youth Offending Services and Probation Trusts should develop arrangements to manage the transfer process to ensure that young adults receive the support they need to comply with their sentence or licence.
Recommendation: Lessons should be learned by the young adult YOI estate from the reduction in numbers of children in custody, which has enabled some degree of justice reinvestment from acute services to prevention. Every effort should be made to keep non-violent young adults out of custody, particularly remand, and enable the courts to issue an intensive community sentence. Specific attention should be given to young adult women who require a distinct approach, and to the over-representation of black and ethnic minority young adult prisoners.
Recommendation: All prisons should have resettlement plans in place for every young adult at least three months prior to their release and a ‘through the gate’ service should be provided to every young adult in custody.
Enabling desistance from crime
Recommendation: A young adult specific approach (with a focus on securing stable accommodation and long-term employment) should be implemented throughout criminal justice service design, commissioning and delivery to ensure that young adults coming out of the criminal justice process are supported to stop offending.