Beyond Youth Custody


Darren has grown up in an environment where offending is the norm. In his neighbourhood criminal behaviour is something to aspire to. Within his family there is a culture of worklessness and a lack of positive role models. He had an extensive offending history which began when he was 13. Much of his offending had been related to gang-affiliated activities (mainly vehicle crime, robberies and assaults) and he had been in custody five times.

Darren first found out about the existence of the Youth In Focus resettlement project through a friend of his who had been on the programme. He then asked Probation to refer him. At this point, Darren was 19 years old and was registered with the police as a Priority Prolific Offender (PPO). Although he was anxious not to admit it initially, he had been involved with the gang fraternity where he lived. Every time that Darren came out of custody he found himself surrounded by the same people and the same culture of criminality.

By the time he came to the project, Darren was keen to make a change and turn his life around. The most important thing for him upon release from custody was to find work and somewhere to live. He was about to become a father for the first time and wanted to settle down with his new family. Although reluctant to leave the area that he had grown up in and where his family resided, the final straw came when a weapon was found in the unoccupied house next-door to his mother’s and the police, assuming that it must have belonged to Darren, arrested her. He decided that he needed to get his whole family re-housed in a new location.

But because of his PPO status Darren found it extremely difficult to secure appropriate housing. His first application for local authority housing was declined on the basis of information about his offending that was provided by the police. The project appealed this decision and advocated on his behalf – with the result that the decision was reversed and Darren and his girlfriend moved into their new home in August 2013. He now has a steady job and although he no longer needs the support of the project, he occasionally pops in to let them know he is still doing well, and refers other young people into the service who he thinks would benefit from the same help he received.

The police have since deregistered him from PPO status.

Tagged with the theme:

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes