This week’s report by HMI Prisons and HMI Probation is one of the most shocking reports I’ve ever read as an MP. The document catalogues the Government’s abject failure to support young people leaving custody and prevent youth re-offending.
Accommodation, health services and support on leaving custody are all highlighted as failing. Shockingly, nearly two-thirds of children leaving custody are going on to re-offend.
In 2015, the authors of the report provided the Government with a range of recommendations to improve support for young offenders. Yet, years of Government inaction means that this latest report states that it is “immensely disappointing to find that many of the same issues and barriers to successful resettlement remain.”
In fact, spending on youth justice, which reduces offending and re-offending among young people, has been cut by 45% since 2010. During the same period, public spending on youth services in England has fallen by £1 billion, a reduction of 73%. Over 750 youth centres have closed their doors since 2012 and 14,500 youth and community worker jobs have been lost since 2008.
These cuts have left leaving gaping holes where there used to be support for young people and have created the conditions in which criminal gangs can more easily prey on the vulnerable.
Instead of throwing good money after bad in creating more prison places, the Government should provide the targeted investment on education and support that we know helps turn children’s lives around.
Labour recently set out our bold vision for rebuilding youth services across the whole country. The next Labour Government will provide long–term, stable funding for statutory youth services to ensure all young people have access to high quality youth work provision that matches their needs.