Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 15:57 UK

Rise in under-18 reoffending rate

Teenagers on street
The reoffending trend was based on comparisons with previous years

The proportion of under-18s in England and Wales who reoffend within a year of their release from custody has risen, Ministry of Justice figures show.

They indicate that 77% of the 817 youths aged 10 to 17 released in the first quarter of 2006 were convicted of a further offence inside 12 months.

The reoffending rate was up on that of 73.1% among 844 youths freed in 2005.

However, figures for adults indicate reoffending rates have fallen to their lowest rate for at least six years.

The highest reoffending rates remain those for short term prisoners who receive the least resettlement help

Paul Cavadino

The frequency rate fell 22.9% from 189.4 to 146.1 offences per 100 offenders between 2000 and 2006.

The longer an offender spent in custody the less likely they were to reoffend.

The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro) said it was "encouraging that there's been such a sharp drop in reoffending by adults given non-custodial sentences".

"The highest reoffending rates remain those for short-term prisoners who receive the least resettlement help," said Paul Cavadino, the charity's chief executive.

He called on the government to commission voluntary organisations to provide a "national resettlement service" for short-term prisoners, to help cut their reoffending rates.

And Geoff Dobson, deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the figures showed the best way to deal with petty offenders is to "use targeted community sentences, not a series of ineffective spells in our overcrowded prisons".

Ex-offender proposal

"By allowing judges and magistrates to force offenders to address the causes of their behaviour, community sentences are much more likely to break the drug addictions and fix the drink problems that fuel so much crime in our communities," he said.

The figures come as the government was urged to save taxpayers' money by funding jobs for ex-offenders.

A report by the Policy Exchange think-tank says more than 300m a year could be saved if organisations were paid to hire people released from jail.

Pay-outs could go to private companies, public sector organisations and charities who took on ex-convicts.

Reoffending costs taxpayers in England and Wales 13bn a year, with jobless ex-offenders most likely to reoffend.


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