The Foyer Federation has been collaborating for some time with individuals and organisations who believe it is possible to secure much better outcomes from our youth justice system. There is a large amount of expertise within the Foyer network in supporting the rehabilitation and transition to positive adulthood of young offenders.
The Foyer Federation’s role in improving the quality of services available to young people from offending backgrounds included the publication of a national Resettlement and Rehabilitation strategy in 2010 to promote the role of Foyers as ‘Delivery Platforms’ for a range of local offender services. This in turn led to the establishment of a strategic partnership with the Youth Justice Board to support the YJB’s work on developing an ‘enhanced offer’ for young people leaving custody.
The capacity of local authorities, community, health, housing, education and other service providers and partners reduce the number of young people involved in crime would be greatly enhanced by the existence of a Young Offenders Academy providing the base for a comprehensive range of services for young offenders before, during and after custodial or community sentences.
A Young Offenders Academy will not be a good prison, but a new approach
Proposals for the development of a ‘Young Offenders Academy’ were initially developed with funding from a range of progressive charitable trusts. A Young Offenders Academy will not be a “good prison”, but a new approach to the education and development of vulnerable children and young people, all of whom are young offenders and some of whom are also damaged, difficult and dangerous. It will enable them to make the transition to independent crime-free adulthood. It will reduce the child custody population and cut re-offending levels, improve community safety and curtail the waste of public funds.
The Secure Foundation is a new approach to young offenders who are at the threshold or in custody. It will provide a means for local organisations to take responsibility for youth crime and address it constructively by providing a comprehensive and integrated range of services for local young offenders, before, during and after custodial and/or community sentences. The services will be child focused and include education, personal development, mental and physical health, supervision, vocational training and family support. The pilot project will serve a catchment area of no more than one hour’s travel time by public transport, link with local services and be locally accountable. It will be the hub for the development of other services and be a crucial step towards a new 10 year youth crime and community safety strategy for the metropolis. This will require determination and consistency of leadership.
On 14 February 2013 Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling MP launched a Green Paper on the future of Youth Custody.
The Foyer Federation and our partners on the YOA Advisory Group were particularly interested in the call to “put education at the heart of detention” and the announcement of a “Secure College” model very similar to our suggested Young Offenders Academy.
We are keen to contribute in a practical way to the development of government’s thinking in this area and believe the work we have done provides a compelling case for an innovative service that has the potential to transform the life chances of young offenders and reduce re-offending.
For more information on our proposals for YOAs check out some of our publications or read our policy position on youth offending