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IPPR’s Condition of Britain report explains how we can work together to build a good society in tough times. It sets out an ambitious agenda for social renewal across Britain in several areas, including social exclusion, housing and criminal justice.


The report includes a chapter on how to prevent young people from getting involved in a life of crime and outlines policy recommendations to ensure this. These recommendations include extending the remit of youth offending teams to those aged up to 20, in order to provide locally-led support to help keep young adult offenders out of prison and cut reoffending.


The report states that the responsibility for tackling youth offending lies locally, with youth offending teams (YOTs), which are organised at the level of top-tier local authorities. YOTs were established in 1998, and have since performed well against their three core objectives. The number of young people entering the criminal justice system for the first time fell by 67 per cent between 2002/03 and 2012/13. IPPR argue that instead of dealing with young adult offenders through the ‘transforming rehabilitation’ contracts, the next government should extend the successful YOT model to offenders aged 18–20. They suggest that managing this more effectively by reducing offending and reoffending, and ultimately bringing down the size of the prison population, would save money and free up capacity in the adult justice system.


Under the plans outlined in the report, the responsibilities of the YJB would be extended to 18–20-year-olds to ensure that local areas are focused on tackling criminality and antisocial behaviour among young people and young adults and new community sentences should also be put in place as an alternative to short prison sentences for young adults. In order to boost the financial incentives for local areas to reduce reoffending and keep young adults out of custody, over time, the budget for youth custody could be devolved to local areas. IPPR say this would give local areas resources to invest in alternatives to custody.


The plans set out in this report would mean local areas would be held responsible to account for their progress in reducing first-time contact with the criminal justice system, keeping all but the most serious young adult offenders out of prison, and attempting bringing down reoffending rates.