Young people involved, or at risk of, criminal behaviour are often vulnerable and present risk to the communities they live in. Involvement in crime often means that they have complex needs that haven’t been identified at an earlier age. This includes family breakups, trauma, educational barriers, exploitation, poverty, substance misuse and neglect. Effective youth justice sees children as children, treats them fairly and helps to build on their strengths so they can make constructive contributions to society. This prevents offending and creates safer communities with fewer victims. Greater Manchester Youth Justice support this ‘child first’ approach.
Young adults are less than 10% of the general population but are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system (CJS), making up more than one third of those commencing a Court Order, one third of the probation service’s caseload and almost one third of those sentenced to prison each year. This alone demonstrates the importance of recognising the distinct needs and circumstances of young adults in developing effective approaches to reduce re- offending and preventing victims of crime.
Young adults are the most likely age group to desist and grow out of crime, although the wrong intervention at this time can slow desistance and extend the period that a young adult is involved in the CJS. Getting it right at this critical time is crucial to assisting young adults to make a successful transition to a crime free adulthood.