Start360 responds to NIAO report on youth reoffending

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Start360 shares many of the concerns highlighted in today’s ‘Managing Children Who Offend’ report. It has been argued for some time that new approaches are needed to engage with some of our most vulnerable population of young people. Start360 has played a critical role in this debate and has led the way in innovative practice.

Speaking in response to the report, Anne-Marie McClure, Chief Executive of Start360, said, ‘Start360 has been at the forefront of dealing with issues of youth offending in a different way. It is a complex issue, but in the short term, Start360 has developed innovative and proven practice that helps to reduce reoffending and recidivism – we know that throughcare works. Continuity of support between custody and community is essential for sustainable rehabilitation. In the long term, we should be taking a completely different approach – we should raise the age of criminal responsibility. This will allow a social engagement approach, rather than a criminal justice one, which will have a greater impact.’

Ronan McGinley, Justice Service Manager, said, ‘We listen to our clients and know what works. We have a proven track record of working in partnership with criminal justice agencies, including our ADJUST service. An independent evaluation highlighted that 86% of those we engaged with did not return to custody – a fact which speaks for itself.’

The ADJUST service operates in the Woodlands JJC and in Hydebank Wood College. By engaging with each service user six weeks prior to their release and up to six months after release, ADJUST works by building relationships and putting the young person at the centre of a flexible programme of engagement. Between 2012 and 2016, Start360 ADJUST staff engaged with over 300 clients.

The evaluation of the ADJUST service carried out in 2016 also estimated that £7.6m could be saved over three years.