Most young offenders in Cambridgeshire reoffend within a year, figures show
Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite says county has invested heavily to prevent juvenile reoffending.
The majority of youth offenders in Cambridge reoffend within a year, according to a Ministry of Justice report.
From October 2015 to September 2016, 95 young offenders either left custody, received a non-custodial conviction or received a caution. Of those, 51 committed a proven re-offence within a year. Each re offender committed an average of 3.1 offences within this period.The 95 young offenders, aged under 18, also had 317 previous convictions between them.
The percentage of young people reoffending in Cambridge is higher than the England and Wales figure, with 42 per cent of juvenile offenders committing another crime within a year, committing an average of 3.9 offences each.
However, South and East Cambridgeshire had lower than average juvenile reoffending rates of around 21 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, bringing the percentage for the county as a whole down down.
A spokesperson for the Youth Offending Service at Cambridgeshire County Council said: “Cambridgeshire is below the national average for youth reoffending with 40.7 per cent compared to 42 per cent nationally. The figures for Cambridge from 2015-16 represent a relatively small number of people, and our own more recent data shows our re-offending proportion as less than 20 per cent.
“As a service we work closely with the police, courts, education, social care, health and other agencies as well as with victims and the wider community to reduce offending across Cambridgeshire.
“We have increased our focus on earlier crime prevention work with young people. This includes those who are dealt with by way of cautions at the police station. We use a range of interventions that divert young people away from all stages of offending. A significant part of this work is being funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner through prevention workers who support young people who are at high risk of offending. They will carry out detailed assessments with the young people and families and then provide weekly input to challenge the young people’s thinking, support them in appropriate areas and work to encourage them into a more positive future.”
The Ministry of Justice warned that since its figures only measure offences resulting in convictions or cautions, this could be a significant underestimate of the true level of reoffending.
Across England and Wales, juveniles are more likely to reoffend than adults. In Cambridge 30 per cent of 949 adult offenders reoffended over the same period. Nationally, 29 per cent of adults reoffended.
Youth justice practitioner on the Law Society criminal law committee, Greg Stewart, said that the way that juvenile crime is handled could be behind high youth reoffending rates.
According to Mr Stewart, who has been a practising defence lawyer for 25 years, children tend to only appear in court for more serious crimes, rather than minor misdemeanours.
He added: “As a result, those young people who are left still offending are the ‘kernel’ of offenders, often with complex and compound issues and serious problems at home and school.”
Mr Stewart said budget cuts to local youth programmes have also contributed to the problem.
He said: “The savings that will have been made by the reduced charging rates are not being reinvested in rehabilitating more vulnerable repeat offenders.”
However, Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said the county had invested heavily in programmes to prevent juvenile reoffending
“The Youth Offending Service works to engage with young people at risk of offending or re-offending to divert them away from such behaviours. I have invested more than quarter of a million pounds into this early intervention and preventative approach already this year.”
The Standing Committee for Youth Justice, a multi-member organisation with members including Barnardo’s and the NSPCC, says the harsher the punishment, the more likely under-18s are to reoffend.
Deputy chair of the committee Penelope Gibbs said: “If we want to reduce the reoffending of children we need to try and keep them out of the formal criminal justice system and out of prison.We instead need to address the trauma, mental health problems and behavioural difficulties which lead to them committing crime in the first place.”