Preventing Reoffending in Young People who Sexually Offend

  • A report shows there are missed opportunities in preventing reoffending by children and young people who sexually offend.

    Professionals are often missing the opportunities to prevent the reoffending, and if the time is given to them most work well and the majority do not reoffend at all.

    The report, Examining Multi-agency Responses to Children and Young People who Sexually Offend, by the Criminal Justice Joint Inspction, focused on the work undertaken with the young people, and showed that most children and young people engaged well when worked.

     HandcuffDespite this group being a very small proportion of those who offend, it is to a very damaging result, and when different agencies worked together to help them, the majority do no reoffend at all.

    However, there are big missed opportunities, and much intervention could take place earlier than it does. Their offences account for a tenth of all sexual offences and preventing this should be a big priority, but it seems to be a forgotten area.

    Inspectors also found that:

    • cases were slow to get to court, and took an average eight months between disclosure and sentence, resulting in lengthy periods when little or no work was done with the young person;
    • despite some examples of good practice, much work was characterised by poor communication between the relevant agencies, with inadequate assessment and joint planning;
    • many young people had complex and multiple needs and positive examples of holistic interventions to address these delivered by a range of agencies were rare;
    • once these children had been picked up by the justice system, their chances for rehabilitation improved and they clearly benefitted from the child-focused approach by YOT workers; and
    • despite some successful outcomes, there was little evidence of routine evaluation at a strategic level of the quality of effectiveness of multiagency work.

    Chief Inspector of Probation, Liz Calderbank, said:

    The behaviour of this small but significant group of children and young people can be extremely damaging, often involving other children as victims. Yet the evidence from our inspection is that these children and young people do respond to intervention from the youth offending teams and can be prevented from reoffending before developing entrenched patterns of behaviour.

    We were therefore very concerned to find that a sizeable number of these children had been referred on previous occasions to children's services but the significance of their sexual behaviour was either not recognised or dismissed. This, to us, represented a lost opportunity, both for the children themselves and their potential victims.


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