Beyond Youth Custody

Resettlement of young people leaving custody: lessons from the literature

15 April 2013

This literature review aims to set out the research and practice evidence about effective resettlement services for children and young adults and can be used to inform future policy and practice to ensure service delivery is evidence based. The findings of the review will help to steer the focus of Beyond Youth Custody’s research over the duration of the programme and act as a baseline to assess how our understanding has advanced in terms of what works in facilitating the transition from youth custody to the community and beyond. In addition, the review highlights some examples of good practice, as well as the emerging key principles of effective resettlement provision.

This literature review presents the findings of an analysis of research and practice literature about resettlement services for young people when they leave custody. It will act as a baseline to assess how the Youth in Focus delivery projects have advanced our knowledge of what works within youth resettlement following custody.

The review also highlights some emerging principles of effective practice that will be useful for practitioners, policymakers and commissioners to ensure resettlement services are designed and delivered in a way which meets the needs of young people and consequently which reduces reoffending.

The headline findings of the literature review are:

  • Custodial sentences have the highest reconviction rates, but more effective and better coordinated resettlement provision and planning can significantly reduce offending and public costs.
  • The reduction of numbers in custody has brought additional challenges in relation to resettling these remaining young people.
  • The transition from custody to community is an opportunity for positive change for young people, but is impeded by system failures in joint working between community stakeholders and the institution.
  • Key principles to inform effective practice include: ensuring continuity between custody and community; adequate preparation for release; ensuring support immediately on release; proactive engagement and collaboration with the young person; and a focus on co-ordinating partnerships of stakeholders across sectors.
  • Priority issues for further exploration include: continuity across the transition to adulthood; sustained engagement to and beyond the end of the licence; ensuring support without increasing licence requirements; meeting diversity in the custodial population; managing an exit from support; extending resettlement provision to the remand population; and critical consideration of alternative aims and measures for long-term resettlement success.

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Publications categories

Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes