Beyond Youth Custody


Katy had a good childhood up to the age of 12. Then her Dad started to have an affair and used the time when she was having her swimming lessons to meet his girlfriend. When her Mum found out, Katy’s world fell apart. Her Dad left home and her Mum started drinking heavily and blamed Katy for ‘allowing’ the affair to happen. Previously a good student, Katy was too distressed to concentrate on her school work. Although her Dad eventually moved back home, the atmosphere was very tense and her parents began to have many violent rows. They were too wrapped up in themselves to pay her any attention.

Katy made some new friends who were into drugs. She found that taking drugs helped to numb the emotional pain she was feeling. Her new friends started burgling houses and Katy joined in. She wasn’t particularly interested in making any money, but she was aware of how distressing it is to be a victim of burglary and she wanted to make someone else feel as much hurt as she did.

She got a boyfriend who was one of the lads in the group she was hanging around with. They would use cannabis and LSD in her bedroom at home and they spent a lot of time on the streets together. One night when out in a group, there was a huge confrontation between their friends and another group of young people. Katy’s boyfriend was stabbed and he died in her arms.

Katy was devastated but had no one to turn to to help her deal with what had happened. She began using drugs a lot more heavily to numb the pain: scared that if she came off them, her painful emotions would overwhelm her. She began shoplifting to pay for her drug use, determined that she would not sell sex to fund her heroin use. Her prolific offending brought her to the attention of the police and this was when she started going through the criminal justice system. She was 16 years old.

Tagged with the theme:

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes