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T2A Chair Leroy Logan MBE reflects on the findings of the Alliance for Youth Justice’s (AYJ) briefing paper on the transition from the youth to adult justice system – focusing on the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic young people.

A Black person with a grey beard, blue suit, and glasses

A spotlight on racial disparities

As the briefing suggests, young people who turn 18 while in contact with the justice system face a steep cliff edge. Studies show that this age is a crucial turning point where many young people begin to desist from crime with the right support and interventions. But rather than take advantage of this capacity for change, statutory services fall away. For Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic young people, the transition to the adult justice system can be even more challenging. 

This latest briefing from AYJ has cast a harsh spotlight on the failings of our justice system to address the racial disparities that have blighted many young people’s lives. From an early age, many Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic young people find themselves associated with criminal stereotypes. Labelling young people in this way is incredibly damaging, eroding self-belief and making it harder to move towards a pro-social identity. Once Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children enter the justice system, they are less likely to be diverted, more likely to receive harsher sentences, and more likely to be sent to custody, sentenced or on remand, compared to white children. 

“Guilty before proven innocent… you kind of learn authority figures don’t actually care.” – (Young person) 

This can create a huge gulf in understanding and trust between Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic young adults and the professionals working in the system.  Sadly, these findings confirm what many of us working in the sector already expected. That’s why I welcome AYJ drilling down into the causes of this crisis, and what needs to change to deliver better outcomes. Too often, we focus solely on what’s not working and forget that we must create a roadmap for the future we wish to see. 

An over-stretched and under-resourced system

It’s clear that even with a diverse workforce, culturally competent training, and the best will in the world, the probation service is struggling to keep its head above water.  A professional quoted in the briefing had this to say: “Record levels of staff sickness, extended sick leave, people fleeing the service in droves – that then exacerbates every other issue we have. We can’t be ambitious, we can’t be progressive, we can’t make many changes if you’re barely able to keep the regime running.” There are many admirable professionals working in the system who want to do better for young adults, but they don’t have the time, resources, or support to implement creative approaches.  Without sufficient investment, the system can barely meet young adults’ basic needs – let alone support them to take steps towards a more positive future.  

Collaboration with the VCSE sector

In this depressing climate, the work of voluntary and community organisations has become even more vital.  Specialist Black and Ethnic Minority-led organisations have an intimate understanding of the communities Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic young people come from and how their experiences inform their behaviour and identity. As the research highlights, these grassroots organisations are well placed to provide nuanced support that recognises these young people’s overlapping needs – support that statutory services would struggle to provide. 

These organisations are also more likely to have lived experience embedded in their staff and support services, meaning they can provide peer mentoring and positive role models – both of which are essential components in facilitating the shift towards a pro-social identity 

Ring-fenced funding to commission specialist organisations

I believe that we could take this further by developing a model where specialist Black and Minority-Ethnic led grassroots organisations are commissioned to operate services in their communities. Funding would be ring fenced for these local organisations who have the expertise to deliver the best outcomes.  This model could be supported by local roundtables where information and knowledge are shared regularly so that young adults can access support from multiple agencies. Meeting in this way will also help criminal justice agencies better understand how these organisations are well placed to support young adults. Having buy in from all partners will be vital to the success of this model. 

The Newham Transition to Adulthood Hub is a great example of how this approach can work in practice. They have a wide variety of services in one space, so staff can consult each other on individual cases and referrals to different services are much easier and more efficient. Regular spotlight sessions are held where different teams share their expertise and explain how their services can benefit young adults.  

Grassroots organisations excluded from funding opportunities

Unfortunately, the AYJ’s report found that organisations with strong community links and knowledge are effectively excluded from funding opportunities. They lack the resources to compete with larger organisations who can meet the excessive commissioning processes and compliance requirements demanded by the Ministry of Justice and HMPPS.  However, many of these larger organisations lack the knowledge and cultural competence to successfully deliver these services. Shockingly, they often sub-contract their services at a lower rate to the very grassroots organisations that have been denied a place at the table. 

It is crucial that the Ministry of Justice and HMPPS immediately reform VCS funding allocation so that specialist Black and Minority-Ethnic led grassroots organisations can build the capacity of their services – ensuring every young person receives age-appropriate, trauma-informed, culturally competent services that reflect their entire lived experience. 

A group of leading charities, lawyers, care experienced children and young adults have worked together to produce a new guide for lawyers ‘Dare to Care’.

Care experienced children are up to six times more likely to be criminalised than other children. In 2022, 1% of children in England were in care, but 59% of children in custody in England and Wales had been in care.

It does not have to be this way.  Law and policy affecting care experienced children and young adults can be used to achieve fairer outcomes.  This guide will help lawyers prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of looked-after children and care leavers.

The guide will be a key resource for all lawyers working with children and young adults in the justice system. It provides powerful testimony from children and young adults, as well as the key legal framework and practical tips.

Laura Cooper, Director of Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC), which has published Dare to Care as part of its seminal series of youth justice guides said:

“It is incredibly unjust that care experienced children are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system when these are the very children we should be supporting. We are extremely proud to publish this comprehensive legal guide which we know will be a vital resource for practitioners in preventing the unnecessary criminalisation of care experienced children.”

Jordan Morgan, founder of the Policy Forum and Trustee of the Drive Forward Foundation, said: 

“To complement this vitally important guide, the Policy Forum is calling for the Justice Select Committee to urgently launch an inquiry into youth diversion schemes and their application to care experienced young people. We warmly welcome collaboration to achieve this aim and to support young people leaving the care system to live a full, dignified life where their aspirations can be met with opportunities.” 

Laurie Hunte, T2A Campaign Manager, said:

“For far too long, children and young adults with care experience have been vastly overrepresented in the criminal justice system. That’s why T2A and the Barrow Cadbury Trust are proud to support the publication of this much-needed guide for defence lawyers. Its ultimate aim is to ensure that every child and young adult is treated fairly and that their care experiences are considered and taken into account by criminal justice professionals. We have no doubt that this guide will play a crucial role in reducing the over-criminalisation of children and young adults with care experience.”

Kate Aubrey-Johnson, Director of CRYJ and barrister at Garden Court Chambers, said:

“Care experienced children and young adults deserve lawyers who understand their needs, the legal protections available and the reasons why they are so vulnerable to criminalisation. We are delighted to have worked with the Policy Forum at the Drive Forward Foundation. They are the most impressive group of young people who have, for the first time, explained to lawyers how to represent care experienced young people. Our hope is that this new legal guide will play a key part in addressing the shocking overrepresentation of care experienced children and young adults in the criminal justice system.”

The guide will be free to access online.  

Notes to editors

  1. Dare to Care: Representing care experienced young people written by Kate Aubrey-Johnson (barrister) and Dr Laura Janes (solicitor) in collaboration with the policy forum at the Drive Forward Foundation and is published by the Youth Justice Legal Centre.  Confidential advance copies are available to the press prior to the launch on request or it can be downloaded from 13 September 2023 at:
  1. Drive Forward Foundation supports care experienced young people into sustainable and fulfilling employment. The Policy Forum was founded by Jordan Morgan to promote legislative and policy change in the care system. Its members, who have lived experience of being needlessly criminalised, campaign on a number of issues, including mental health provision and education.   The forum worked with MOPAC to secure the creation of a London-wide protocol to reduce the criminalisation of looked-after children and care leavers.

This blog was originally written for T2A (Transition to Adulthood) by Chair, Leroy Logan MBE.  He reflects on the lack of progress on the Lammy Review recommendations and what this means for young Black and minority ethnic adults. 

Last week, Prison Reform Trust published an update on the progress of the Lammy Review’s prison recommendations. Commenting, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said: 

“More than five years on since David Lammy’s review revealed the shocking extent of racial disproportionality in our criminal justice system, our report shows that many of the issues he identified remain stubbornly persistent.” 

Of course, I welcome the transparency that this analysis brings. However, as someone who has worked tirelessly throughout my career to create a fairer criminal justice system, I am bitterly disappointed by the government’s lack of progress on its commitments. 

In his 2018 Perrie Lecture, David Lammy said: “You cannot be in the criminal justice business and not be in the race business.” 

And one cannot support children and young adults in the criminal justice system without being uncomfortably aware of the deep-seated racial disparities that exist. According to the Ministry of Justice’s statistics, over 40% of 18-24 year olds in custody are young Black and minority ethnic adults. 

That’s why the work of T2A is hugely important. Together with T2A Alliance members, we’re doing all we can to ensure that every young adult in the criminal justice system gets the support they need, based on their ongoing maturity and not simply on their chronological age. 

We often speak to practitioners across HMPPS who want to do more to support young Black and minority ethnic adults, so we must continue to create accessible resources and tools that enable them to do so.24 year olds in custody are young Black and minority ethnic adults. 

Training materials should cover everything from understanding how to talk about race and increasing cultural awareness, to learning more about implicit bias and discrimination. Listening to Black and minority ethnic organisations and the young adult they support will ensure these materials are grounded in lived experience. Spark Inside’s recent #BeingWellBeingEqual report highlighted the importance of this approach, and how promoting young Black men’s wellbeing can help them unlock their full potential. 

Learning how to support young adults to move from a pro-offending to pro-social identity will also be crucial. With a stronger insight into how identity and trauma inform behaviour, staff will be able to develop more positive relationships with the young Black and minority ethnic adults in their care. 

I know that the scale of the challenges we face may feel insurmountable at times. Many people, myself included, are rightly disappointed that so little has changed since David Lammy’s landmark review five years ago. 

But we must not let this deter us. We must harness this energy and relentlessly focus on the work ahead of us. And if you’re feeling a tad cynical, which is completely understandable, I invite you to delve into the power of optimism. 

Want to learn more about how to support young adults in the justice system? 



This blog, by Rob Allen and Dr Laura Janes, was written for Russell Webster to coincide with the launch of their T2A (Transition to Adulthood) report on young adults and parole and is cross-posted here.

The current Secretary of State for Justice has put the parole system at the heart of his reform agenda, introducing sweeping changes to both law and policy designed to “stop the release of dangerous offenders from prison”.

The changes have ranged from who may be referred to the Parole Board, to what professionals working for the Ministry of Justice can say to the Board in written and oral evidence. In the recent case of Bailey v SSJ the High Court said that one piece of guidance “may well have resulted in prisoners being released who would not otherwise have been released and in prisoners not being released who would otherwise have been released.” All the changes made by the current administration apply indiscriminately to anyone going through the process, regardless of age.

Young adults, currently defined by the Parole Board as 18-21-year-olds, only make up around 2% of its overall case load. But data revealed in a new T2A report on young adults and parole shows that there are some important differences in the characteristics of this cohort compared to older adults..

First, young adults are much more likely to appear before the Parole Board because they have been sent back to prison for alleged failures on supervision after automatic release from a standard sentence. The Board must then decide whether it’s safe to re-release them. Last year 97% of all initial ‘paper reviews’ by the Parole Board of young adults were because they had been recalled. Yet, across all age groups only 73% of cases concerned recalls.

recent report by the Chief Inspector of Probation found that “most recalls to custody were caused by homelessness, a return to drug or alcohol misuse or a failure to ensure continuity of care pre and post release – not by re-offending.” Young adults can be particularly susceptible to be being recalled given that their developing maturity may make it harder to comply with licence conditions.

Second, when young adults are considered in more depth and have a chance to explain themselves to the Parole Board at an oral hearing, they are much more likely to be released than older applicants. In 2022, 59% of all young adults were released following an oral hearing whereas the overall release rate for all reviews was one in four.

The T2A Alliance

In the 18 years since its Independent Commission published Lost in Transition, Barrow Cadbury Trust has worked tirelessly to promote a more distinctive approach to young adults in the criminal justice system through T2A. This latest study looks at a relatively hidden corner of criminal justice that needs urgent attention.

It’s very welcome that existing Parole Board guidance says 18–21-year-olds should be presumed suitable for an oral hearing if they aren’t released on the papers, but the study suggests more should be done to enable release at the initial paper stage or at least ensure oral hearings are convened as quickly as possible. Given the current pressures on prison places, it makes little sense to have young adults recalled to prison who are highly likely to be safe to release, sometimes staying there for a year or more. The Chair of the Sentencing Council has recently encouraged the use of suspended sentences where appropriate in light of the high prison population.

The report also recommends that more should be done to ensure young adults, many of whom have high levels of need, can effectively participate in the parole process with the support of legal representation. This could also go some way to counter the systemic discrimination that persists for minoritised groups in prison and which has still not been addressed five years on from the Lammy review. It will also assist the very few young adult women that come before the Board but who require a specialised approach.

Young adults

The T2A report also argues that the Parole Board should treat those up to 25 as young adults, which would not only reflect the latest research on brain development but bring practice into line with many other agencies. For example, thanks in part to the influence of work by the Howard League and T2A, courts should now take account of the emotional and developmental age of an offender, and recognise that young people up to 25 are still developing neurologically.

Greater application of this evidence-based approach by both the Parole Board and HMPPS will bring parole more into line with other parts of the system. The report makes a number of simple recommendations such as making sure the Board asks for the right kind of information before reaching a decision. When a young person has been in care, the Board should have information from social services. The Board should also interpret the test for release which it must apply in the light of what’s known about how young people mature, and how their risks of causing harm can be managed and reduced. The report recommends that the prison service gives young adults better access to the programmes, relationships and assistance which can help them prepare for success on release.


Probation is also encouraged to provide more individualised support for young adults on licence in the community, but which does not overload them with complex requirements or impose conditions all but impossible to meet. The report finds mixed views about whether young adults are recalled too much but recommends this should be kept under close review, along with safeguards to prevent them going back to prison unnecessarily.

Given the relatively small number of young adults going through the parole process, and the obvious benefits to reform, it is hoped that these recommendations will be both feasible and welcomed.

T2A Chair, Leroy Logan, blogs about the relevance and importance of Spark Inside’s new report, Being Well, Being Equal. This blog was initially posted on the T2A website.

“I was quite positive when I went inside and I think the system strips you of that. And once it has been stripped you then have the issue of well, trying to get that back and they are not putting support in place to rebuild that.” (Young adult, Being Well Being Equal Report)

When we see young adults in the criminal justice system solely as people to be punished, we deny them the opportunity to forge a better future. We rob them of their full potential. If we don’t rehabilitate young adults at this crucial juncture in their development, the desistance process becomes much more complex after the age of 25 due to the “scarring effect” of “new adversities which are emergent in adulthood” (University of Edinburgh Study March 2022).

Prisons should focus on the rehabilitation of every individual. Young adults who are given the chance to grow, develop and realise their potential during their time in prison are less likely to reoffend – and more likely to positively contribute to society.  This is exemplified in a new report from Spark Inside. Its detailed paper Being Well, Being Equal contains a comprehensive list of recommendations on how we can prioritise the wellbeing of young men, and particularly young Black men in the criminal justice system. Spark Inside’s recommendations could not be more timely when we consider the scale of the challenges young adults face.

A 2021 thematic report from HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMIP) on the outcomes of young adults in custody stated: “if action is not taken, outcomes for this group and society will remain poor for the next decade and beyond.” The December 2022 HMIP thematic review into the experiences of adult black male prisoners and black prison staff found that lack of trust in prison staff was a significant barrier to asking for support.

“Prisoners generally had low expectations of the help that they might be given if they needed support; some gave examples of times when they or friends had sought support and not received it, and others did not feel that staff had the cultural sensitivity, expertise or experience to help them, and therefore did not want to ask for help.” (HMIP, 2022)

This places young Black men in the criminal justice system in an incredibly vulnerable position – one where they feel unable to seek help from the very people who have a duty of care to keep them safe.

The evidence is clear. We must act now. But where to start? Spark Inside believes we need to listen to the voices and experiences of young adults and the organisations that advocate on their behalf. Involving Black-led and Black specialist organisations in the development of wellbeing strategies will lead to greater engagement and trust on both sides – creating an approach to young Black men’s mental health and wellbeing that considers their distinct needs.

Empowering young adults to play a role in shaping policy and practice is also key. Being able to actively participate in matters that have a huge impact on their lives will boost their self-confidence, self-esteem, sense of agency, and wellbeing. Spark Inside have rightly identified that training and coaching will be vital to see through the report’s recommendations.

Many prison and probation officers want to do more to support young adults, but they don’t have the resources, time or support. HMPPS ringfencing time for staff to receive specialist training will help them understand how to effectively meet the needs of young adults – leading to more open and positive relationships. It will also help people working across the prison estate to explore and challenge discriminatory attitudes towards young adults, particularly young Black adults.

Right now, with organisations like Spark Inside working directly with young adults, we have a chance to create a criminal justice system that focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment. A system where young adults can gain the skills and confidence they need to thrive. A system where every young adult can unlock their full potential. But we need to grab this chance with both hands if we are to ever make it a reality.


Tuesday 22 Jan

Former Metropolitan Police Superintendent Leroy Logan MBE takes over as chair of T2A young adults campaign

Leroy Logan MBE, anti-racist campaigner, former Met superintendent, and a founding member of the Black Police Association, has been appointed as Chair of Transition to Adulthood (T2A).

Transition to Adulthood (T2A) is a Barrow Cadbury Trust programme advocating for a criminal justice system that takes a distinct approach to policy and practice for young adults (18-25 year olds). The criminal justice system regards all people over 18 year olds as adults.  T2A argues it’s not as simple as this.  Our research, as well as evidence from academic institutions and from government bodies, along with the insights from criminal justice practitioners, shows that between 18 and 25 the brain is still developing.  This can show itself as irresponsible and unpredictable behaviour which may lead to criminal justice interventions.  T2A is working with sentencers, criminal justice practitioners, and policy makers to make sure this evidence is taken into account when services are designed and decisions made impact on young adult in the justice system

The prison population is made up of a disproportionate number of young adults.  At the last census they made up 9.4% of the general population but 16% of the prison population, 23% of those on the most basic regime, as well as young adults making up over 30% of police cases.

On taking up the role Leroy Logan said:

“The causes of crime have always been overlooked by a ‘tough on crime’ approach. I believe my new role with T2A is a way of highlighting the challenges young adults face that may lead them to offend or repeat offend. All of these factors along with an individual’s maturity should be taken into consideration when the courts sentence an individual. I look forward to working with everyone on the T2A team and the T2A partner organisations”.

Welcoming him as Chair of the campaign, Sara Llewellin, CEO of Barrow Cadbury Trust said:

“When Leroy Logan said he would take up the role of chair we were absolutely delighted to have someone so committed to reforming the criminal justice system and challenging inequality, particularly racism.  His 30 years’ experience in the Met Police advancing policing (recognised by an MBE in 2000), and his work on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry will help to drive the T2A campaign to the next level, increasing traction and profile.  We are very much looking forward to working with Leroy and his team to accelerate change for young adults in the CJS”.








Leaders Unlocked supports young people from diverse backgrounds to influence change on the issues that affect their lives. It was founded by Rose Dowling in 2015 with the belief that any young person could become a leader if the right conditions were created for them to thrive.

Since 2015 Leaders Unlocked projects have provided young people with the space, support, and tools they need to lead. Completely youth-led, Leaders Unlocked enables young people to define their own priorities, produce their own research, develop recommendations and co-produce solutions.

In 2020, Leaders Unlocked established a Youth Board – a group of motivated young leaders representing all of its work areas: criminal justice, education, health, and policing. These young leaders are helping to drive Leaders Unlocked’s growth as an organisation – working on its strategy, business development, partnerships, media and communications. The Youth Board of Leaders Unlocked have co-produced and authored this Impact Report – a vibrant record of its collective achievement over the last 6 years.

Follow @LeadersUnlocked

The new evidence review by the national justice charity Revolving Doors for T2A (Transition to Adulthood), reveals that delivering tailored interventions that meet the health and human needs of young adults can turn young people’s lives around, reduce crime and improve public safety.

The review brings together the latest evidence and emerging good practice that are shown to support young adults to move away from the criminal justice system. It highlights the need to scale up investment in police assisted diversion services to meet the ever-rising time demand on policing and courts.

Evidence from this review recommends that police-assisted diversion services should:

  • Avoid prosecutions for low-level and non-violent crimes where possible to have the most impact
  • Deliver tailored responses to meet the specific needs of young adults’ health, human needs and maturity
  • Apply trauma-informed approaches to understand root causes of crime and minimise harm
  • Adopt a gender-specific and culturally competent approach to achieve equable outcomes for young adults in the criminal justice system
  • Promote a pro-social identity that builds on their strengths and abilities and empowers them to shape their own future
  • Link young adults and their families into sustainable and long-term support to prevent future crises.

Pavan Dhaliwal, Chief Executive of Revolving Doors Agency, said,

“The benefits of out of court disposals are generally well known but what is often lacking is evidence about works about these programmes specifically and importantly given the fact that they make up around a third of all police cases, what works in reducing reoffending in young adults.

This new review shines a light on interventions that are most effective for diverting young adults into support. It pushes the New Generation agenda forward into practical steps towards reducing reoffending and offers the chance for young adults to turn their lives around.

With magistrates’ courts backlogs expected to rise ten-fold, it is vital that police and crime commissioners invest in diversion services so that the police can deal with low-level crime effectively.”

Natasha, New Generation young adult campaigner, said,

“What made the biggest difference for me was having a consistent support worker who worked with me at every step of my journey, taught me how to notice patterns, followed up after I left the service, and encouraged me to seek help. I liked how they did not judge me or make me feel less than. This made me see the light at the end of the tunnel and push me to make the positive changes and embark on my journey to change.”

Joyce Moseley, Chair, T2A said:

“T2A (Transition to Adulthood) has been working to develop and collate best practice evidence from the UK and globally to understand how young adults (18 to 25) can best be supported to move away from crime. This report from the Revolving Doors Agency makes a valuable contribution to that evidence base of diversionary approaches for young adults. Young adulthood can be a time of high offending but it is also the period where with the right interventions rapid desistance from the cycle of crisis and crime can be achieved.”



Hello! My name is Niamh and I am currently working as a prison officer as part of the Unlocked Graduate’s scheme. As part of the scheme, I have been given the opportunity to come and complete a 2 week work placement with the Barrow Cadbury Trust. This is my first week and I am excited to be here!

I want to use my blog posts as an opportunity to get more prison officers involved in the reports and research that are being published about the criminal justice sector. While working as an officer, it has been important to me to inform my practice using the most up-to-date research being conducted about my place of work. This kind of research is available to everyone to see, but often it’s thought that the only people who need to see it are policy makers, or members of parliament. This is not true! In these papers is a wealth of knowledge that can inform the frontline workers who are coming into daily contact with the people the publications are aiming to help.

As a prison officer, I come into contact with so many different people, often with very different needs, and understanding why they have those needs can often be the answer for how best to help them. Looking at papers like how to prevent young adults being caught in the revolving door, coming in and out of contact with the criminal justice system again and again, I can see the men that I work with, in the middle of that cycle themselves.

Catching them before they come to prison is ideal, but I know that it is never too late to help them break the cycle of reoffending. Research into young people who are care experienced, and LGBTQ+ people, for example, is important as it recognises and highlights the impact of different environmental experiences, such as spending time in care, or being discriminated against because of your gender and/or sexuality. This can teach frontline workers, such as prison officers, about triggers, which will help them build trust, and inform them about what people need with respect to these vulnerabilities, whether it be building a connection with someone who has found it hard to access consistent support in the care system, or researching resources that will help a LGBTQ+ person get back on their feet when they are released from prison.

Sometimes, working in a prison can feel like you have a thousand and one jobs to do at once, and having to cater for individual needs seems like an unnecessary additional burden. While I understand that feeling, I also know that by understanding these individual needs, I can predict who needs what, and this helps me manage my time better, as well as building relationships with the men. This can be as big a thing as understanding how to help someone who has just experienced a bereavement, down to just wishing Eid Mubarak to the Muslim population who have just finished fasting for Ramadan. This is the kind of good practice that highlights the importance of frontline workers who want to see change in the men and women they’re working with.

Thank you very much for reading this blog. I hope you learned something from it, and I hope you read some of the reports I linked to – especially if you are another prison officer! Even though I work with male offenders, I think the reports are just as valuable wherever you work, whether it’s the male or female estate, young offenders or adults. I’ll be writing another blog next week, which I hope you will also enjoy. See you then!

A distinct approach to young adults is tough on crime and a high-return investment, says Max Rutherford Criminal Justice Programme Manager at Barrow Cadbury Trust

Three years ago, six projects set out to demonstrate the effectiveness of a ‘whole pathway’ approach to young adults involved in crime – from point of arrest to release from prison. Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) independent evaluation of this ‘T2A Pathway’, published today, tells the story of these projects from design to delivery during a time when local services faced unprecedented turmoil and austerity.

It highlights the extraordinary resilience, flexibility and skill of voluntary sector organisations in meeting the needs of society’s most vulnerable people, turning young lives around and pulling them back from the brink of a life of crime, self-harm, addiction and, for many, an early death.

A distinct approach to young adults that is tough on crime

What the T2A Pathway delivered was unequivocally “tough on crime”. There’s nothing soft about intervening to calm down a young man wielding a samurai sword in a park full of children. There’s nothing fluffy about coming to the aid of a brain-injured young man who, every day, sits naked on a bridge and threatens to thrown himself off. It’s not a charitable nicety to secure a safe place to live for a teenage mother and her new-born child who are both at high risk of sexual and physical abuse.

Commissioning services for 16-25 year olds that enable them to address their behaviour and turn their lives around is not do-gooding – it’s a high-return investment. No other age group is more likely to desist from crime, and no other group of adults has as much life still ahead of them. All of the 414 young people supported by the projects were causing harm to their communities (three quarters already had criminal records) and even more harm to themselves.

The evaluation is further evidence of the unmatchable value to people with complex needs of relationship-based, intensive support. This doesn’t mean services that are either high-cost or slow – quite the opposite. Services were described as “quicker” and “tailor made”, in comparison to statutory provision.

Benefits to other agencies

Of course, the work of projects like these benefits criminal justice agencies – reducing offending, avoiding breach and increasing compliance – all big wins for the police, courts, probation and prisons. It saves money, reduces crime and, perhaps most persuasive, saves these agencies precious time. As a police borough commander put it to me in conversation, “these projects help us spend more time catching bad guys”.

Yet it’s a direct benefit to other agencies too – mental health services (many of which have raised their thresholds to unreachable heights for young people) won’t have to pick up the pieces of acute crises; social care and child protection services won’t have to take as many children into care.

Gender and race

Nearly a third of the young adults supported by the projects were female, and one project was women-only. These teenage and young adult women had even more needs than the young men: 63% had experienced abuse, rape or domestic violence, and 15% had been involved in sex work. The evaluation reports great additional benefit from a gender-specific approach within the young adult focus.

A third of the young adults were BAME, with a higher rate in the prison-based projects than the community-based projects. A concern arising from the evaluation is disproportionately low levels of referral of young BAME men, in particular, by statutory agencies to voluntary sector services -, raising questions about the ability to meet the cultural, faith and ethnicity needs of this group -compared to referrals of young white men.


The most effective projects shared some common features in their structure and design, such as having a clearly defined distinct offer for young adults, strong partnerships in place from the beginning and a referral criteria and process that was co-designed by the project team and the referring agencies.

Sustainability of the projects beyond the pilot phase was universally tough at a time of continually shrinking budgets. Two projects were incorporated into the delivery model of a wider contract by the lead charity, two came to an end, and two secured further funding to carry on as they were. A reconviction study and economic analysis from MMU will conclude later this year, and be published in early 2018.

Wider impact

As a collective, T2A Pathway projects contributed evidence to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee’s inquiry on Young Adult Offenders, which concluded in 2016 that there is “overwhelming evidence” in support of a distinct approach to young adults throughout the criminal justice system. Professionals and young people from the projects spoke at national conferences and local events alongside politicians, Police and Crime Commissioners and senior officials. The projects took part in an array of pioneering research projects, including ones on brain injury, bereavement and race equality.

The projects’ legacy is still emerging, but it is clear they have already delivered immense impact, not only on the lives of hundreds of young people and their communities, but also on the people who work with them, and on those who make the policies.

This blog was written by Max Rutherford, Criminal Justice Programme Manager at the Barrow Cadbury Trust in response to the Final Process Evaluation report of the T2A Pathway. For more information email Max Rutherford.