We have today welcomed the publication of Lord Laming’s report on behalf of the Prison Reform Trust into the life chances of young people in care and their involvement with the criminal justice system.
While the report focuses on England and Wales there are many lessons to learn for a Scottish context too. Lord Laming begins his report by stating:
“Investing in childhood is more than a nice thing to do. It has real value that goes beyond the child as it facilitates the future wellbeing of society. Failure to help the child and, where possible, to support the family at this stage is both costly to the child and very expensive to the state”
We echo this need for investment in early intervention to achieve positive and long-term outcomes.
Includem’s model of practice is focused on a personalised, responsive service for the most vulnerable and troubled young people in society. We believe that no young person is ever beyond help and that by rebuilding relationships and increasing resilience we set young people up to succeed.
We know that in Scotland, 27% of people who are in prison have been in care when they were children. The Howard League Scotland found recently that 37% of young offenders had often attended a Children’s Panel, over half were often excluded from school and a quarter had no qualifications.
These figures show that we are still not tackling the route causes of why young people end up in the criminal justice system. Includem’s work is focused on building the resilience and self-esteem necessary for young people to avoid the cycle of involvement with the criminal justice system and rebuilding family relationships so that the outcomes are sustainable.
Includem’s Chief Executive, Angela Morgan adds:
“Lord Laming’s report highlights all the factors resulting in poorer outcomes for young people in England and Wales that we recognise and have been working to address in Scotland.
“While we are making progress on preventing young people ending up in cycles of offending there is much more to do. We welcome the focus on effective joint working between families, communities, local authorities, mental health services and criminal justice agencies.
“We also welcome the emphasis on early intervention and would call on the Scottish Government to look at ways in which the approach in Scotland could be improved to ensure we are working in a truly preventative way to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people at all ages and stages”.
Case study of a young person supported by Includem – “Darren”
Darren was referred to Includem at age 17 with the aim of reducing his risk taking behaviour. He was in a secure unit at the point of referral but a key aim was to bring him back to his family home with appropriate support to sustain that as a permanent placement.
Darren had a past history of absconding from the secure unit and frequent attendances at A&E for injuries, sometimes on a weekly basis.
Initially Darren and his family were difficult to engage in Includem’s work. Project workers would frequently be refused entry and oftentimes Darren wasn’t there at the times agreed. However with persistence – recognising the deep rooted problems, eventually Darren started to trust his Includem worker and engaged more regularly in focused work through our cognitive behaviour toolkit, ‘A Better Life’.
Over the course of a six month intervention, we supported Darren to rebuild his relationship with his mother and to engage in a training course which would further develop his interests and steer him away from risk taking behaviour. We supported him to attend mental health services and to engage with mainstream health services on a regular basis to deal with the presentations at A&E and to ensure connections were in place for sustainability after the exit from Includem’s service.
After six months Darren was referred to Includem’s Transitional Support Programme for further, tapered support over the next few months. As a result of this intervention, Darren is now comfortable in the community and is able to manage his risk taking behaviour without the need for further secure care.
Please note the name of this young person has been changed to protect their identity.