38% of young offenders reoffend within a year

38% of young offenders reoffend within a year

Published by Maria Greenwood at 11:45am 3rd March 2020.

More than a third of young offenders in Dorset go on to reoffend within a year.

Ministry of Justice data reveals that 162 offenders aged under 18 in Dorset either left custody, received a non-custodial conviction or were cautioned in 2017-18.

Of those, 38% went on to commit another offence within 12 months.

That's up from the 31% rate recorded for the previous year's cohort.

Between them, the 62 juvenile reoffenders racked up 235 new offences – an average of 3.8 each.

768 sex crimes against children were recorded in the 12 months to April.

'Child criminals'

Children in England and Wales are deemed to have criminal responsibility from the age of 10, meaning they can be arrested and brought to court for committing a crime.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission last year called for the age to be raised "to stop very young children being exposed to the harmful effects of detention".

Nationally, 38% of juvenile offenders in 2017-18 committed another crime within a year – compared to 41% from 2016-17 – amid a steep fall in the number of juvenile first-time entrants to the criminal justice system.

However, Dr Tim Bateman, chairman of the National Association for Youth Justice, warned that the falling numbers of juvenile offenders and reoffenders nationally is only partly down to children being less likely to break the law.

He said:

"The main explanation is a shift in how minor lawbreaking is treated – an increasingly large proportion of minor misdemeanours result in an informal response that doesn’t get into the figures.

"As a consequence, the smaller number of children who do now come into the system are very different from those who did 10 years ago when there was a tendency for all detected youth crime to get a formal response – however petty."

prison cell

The MoJ figures show that nationally, juveniles are also more likely to reoffend than adults.

In Dorset, 27% of adult offenders reoffended over the same period.

Across England and Wales, 29% of adults reoffended.

Dr Bateman continued:

"What we know is that drawing children into the justice system actually tends to increase lawbreaking.

"If we want to reduce the level of problematic behaviour by teenagers, then we need to be able to keep them in education and provide them with interesting activities which they can afford when they are not in school.

"We also need to reduce levels of poverty so that fewer children suffer various forms of victimisation – which is associated with later violent behaviour."

prison cell

The Government is being urged to avoid criminalising youngsters by diverting them from the justice system where possible, amid calls for the age from when a child can be arrested and charged to be raised.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said:

“The number of further crimes committed by young offenders has fallen by 80% in the last decade as a result of our work to support, rather than criminalise, children falling foul of the law.”