Beyond Youth Custody


Ches’s family background was challenging – he had a difficult relationship with his mother which had contributed to emotional problems. In addition, his father was serving a life sentence for murder – although Ches was unaware of the details of the case. Ches first became involved in the youth justice system when he was 13 years old and was convicted for robbery. By the time he was 17 years old he had 10 previous convictions, and following a further assault on a police officer and attempted robbery, he was sentenced to his first custodial sentence, a 16-month Detention and Training Order.

The Youth Offending Service that was working with him referred him to a Youth In Focus resettlement project six months before he was due to be released. The project was able to meet with him on a weekly basis through legal visits. Together they began to devise an action plan for his release. He engaged really well with the project and before he came out of the YOI he began training for a half marathon which he ran with a member of the resettlement team, completing it for charity just two days after release.

When Ches came out of YOI he returned to live with his grandmother who is his foster carer. He attended the resettlement project on a daily basis, and staff focused on increasing his motivation and self-esteem and on helping him to access positive opportunities. Ches began to disclose to his key worker about his drug and alcohol use, describing it as “a necessary part” of his life – even though he recognised that it was linked to his offending, having previously committed a serious assault while drunk.

In his initial assessment with the resettlement project, it was identified that Ches was susceptible to peer pressure and had in the past associated with offending peers. Ches was able to see the project’s psychologist who helped him to work on his consequential thinking to become more aware of the potential cost of committing crime. Although Ches was originally diagnosed as having ADHD in November 2010, it was not until he met the project’s psychologist that he was able to get some medication for it. The project also enabled Ches to begin to address both his physical and emotional health.

Everything appeared to be going well for Ches’s resettlement. As part of a programme of positive activities he worked with pensioners from a local care home which he enjoyed. He was planning on applying to become an apprentice for a local community programme. Seemingly out of the blue, he was caught and charged with taking a vehicle without consent and associated offences. Fortunately he was given a 12-month community order on the condition that he continue to engage with the resettlement project. Initially, he withdrew from the project and became quite depressed. But with ongoing support from the team’s staff, he has been able to re-establish himself on the programme. Now he’s hoping he can still become an apprentice or a peer mentor with them.

Tagged with the theme:

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes