Tutu Foundation calls for reconsideration of treatment of young offenders

By agency reporter
November 16, 2017

The comments reportedly made by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, about the need to consider ‘harsher and more effective’ prison sentences for teenage offenders in The Daily Telegraph, on 10 November 2017 are unhelpful and fly in the face of evidence which shows that young adults have the highest reconviction rates of any groups, with 75 per cent being reconvicted within two years of release from prison, says the Tutu Foundation UK (TFUK)

Those serving community sentences have equally poor outcomes with the highest breach rate of adults serving community sentences, and the poorest outcomes are typically faced by young Black and Muslim men and care leavers, who are over-represented in the Criminal Justice System

Not only do the Commissioner's comments fly in the face of the available evidence, it is also at odds with findings from the Harris and Lammy Reviews and the Justice Committee Inquiry into Young Adults in the Criminal Justice System. All of these reports agree that young adults in prison are vulnerable and that the experience of being in prison is particularly damaging to them as they are developing.

As a civil society organisation, the TFUK works hard to empower conflict-ridden communities to tackle anti-social behaviour and violence. It says "Through our work, we recognise and agree with organisations like the Transition to Adulthood Alliance, convened by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, that what is needed are approaches which recognise that young adults are a distinct group with specific needs, and that any CJS interventions must acknowledge the fact that their maturity processes are still developing.

"This is why our work, through the philosophy of *Ubuntu, has embedded the approach advocated by the Harris review. We recognise that young people are still developing and that they need to be nurtured and supported to navigate through the complexities of their lives into purposeful, mature adulthood. We do this by empowering them with the skills to listen to and talk with each other and the police about their experiences so we can contribute to reducing tension within communities and tackle gang violence and knife crime. We believe that this is the way forward and not harsher prison sentences.

"Safe boundaries and nurturing are essential for all young people growing up. Our Ubuntu Police Youth Roundtable Project is demonstrating that disaffected young people can engage effectively with their peers and authority figures in a safe environment. Supporting their development, self-worth and confidence are a vital part of the process. The potential is there but more resources are needed to ultimately make prison a much rarer end-game"

*The South African concept of ‘UBUNTU’ encourages a recognition of common humanity, connectedness and interdependence. It emphasises what people have in common, rather than their differences

* Read Cressida Dick's comments here

* The Tutu Foundation http://www.tutufoundationuk.org/



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