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Criminal Justice

New guide for probation officers sets out good practice for working with young adult offenders

“A probation officer empowers you, helps you choose your path and provides an insight into the opportunities available.” (Young adult)

A new guide ‘Effective approaches with young adults: A guide for probation services’ published by Clinks and T2A, provides a range of practical suggestions on how probation practitioners can engage with young adults, deliver a tailored and effective approach, and achieve improved outcomes. Importantly, the guide draws on the experiences of both practitioners and young adults themselves.

Young adults (18-24-year-olds) constitute less than 10% of the general population but make up one third of those involved in the criminal justice system (CJS). However, this age group is also the most likely to grow out of and stay out of crime. Getting it right at this critical time is crucial to helping young adults make a successful transition to a crime-free adulthood. A young adult interviewed for the guide said:

“My probation officer needs to show an honest care of my welfare and everything going on in my life. Showing a genuine interest in my life will help me feel like they are on my side because at first it just feels like they are part of the system like the rest.”

Grace Strong, Strategic Partnership Manager of a Young Adult Project, said:  “In my experience, it is often the small things that make a big difference when working with young adults.”

In recent years there has been a growing recognition amongst professionals and policy makers in the justice system that the specific needs of young adults require a distinct approach. The practitioners interviewed for this guide said that because of the chaotic lives these young adults lead their work is often unpredictable, requiring them to adapt and respond on a daily basis. This made the flexibility of services and a person-centred approach absolutely vital to the success of any young adult project.

Clinks Director, Clive Martin said: “Most of us change when we are encouraged by people who understand and support us. This guide provides clear evidence about how a collaborative and supportive approach works best for young adults.”

Download ‘Effective approaches with young adults: A guide for probation services’ .