Beyond Youth Custody


Throughout his teens, Sean had hung about with a group of boys who were “always getting into trouble … nothing too bad, just petty stuff.” Over the years he got a couple of convictions for criminal damage and a section 39 assault. But then when he left school he had no money and no employment prospects and he thought the easiest way to make money would be to deal drugs with one of his friends. Suddenly they both had lots of money and were “living the life”. But then, within the space of two weeks, Sean was arrested twice. Having been charged with possession with intent to supply, Sean’s Dad accompanied him to court. Sean was worried about being sent to custody in his Dad’s presence because he knew it would upset him.

Sean was given a 14-month Detention and Training Order (DTO) – his first custodial experience. Sean was ashamed about both the drug dealing and the custodial sentence and he worried what his parents and grandparents would think of him because “they never brought me up like that”. He felt that he’d let his whole family down and felt angry with himself for being “such a cocky kid”. He couldn’t even look at his dad as he was taken from court because he felt that he had disgraced himself and was “a scumbag”.

After four months of custody, Sean was referred to the resettlement project by his Youth Offending Service (YOS). The project key worker started arranging regular one-to-one sessions in preparation for release – these sessions examined his resettlement needs and increased his motivation to stop offending. From the beginning of his involvement with the project, Sean showed a very positive attitude and was keen to engage.

By the time he left custody, Sean was 18. His post-custody supervision was split between his local YOS and the Youth In Focus resettlement project. The project’s initial assessment identified that Sean could be impulsive and had been aggressive towards his parents in the past. Sean had an individual plan that was tailored to his specific needs, including help with family and personal relationships, community integration, and education, training and employment. His involvement with the resettlement project was practically full-time, delivered through a programme of daily structured interventions which were aimed at reducing the risk of reoffending. The project also arranged for Sean to get engaged with positive opportunities within the community and charitable based organisations.

Since then, Sean’s relationship with his parents back in the family home has improved. He has not been involved with any further offending and his confidence and self-esteem have grown. Sean has made great progress and has successfully undertaken a range of accredited training activities while on the programme. At the end of his DTO supervision period, he applied for an apprenticeship within the project’s organisation. Sean is now employed on a full-time basis, acting as a peer mentor and role model for other young people on the programme. This has all been achieved in less than a year from his release date from custody.

Tagged with the theme:

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes