Recession hits young offenders

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WIGAN’S young offenders are struggling to find jobs and reintegrate themselves into the community because of the recession.

Figures shown to Wigan Council’s children, young people and families scrutiny committee show that the authority is falling behind its targets to get sufficient numbers of young offenders into full-time work once they have done their time.

The number of school-age young offenders in Education, Training and Employment (ETE) in Wigan fell by 10 per cent in the first quarter of 2011/12 compared to the same time the previous year, with a fall from 67.4 per cent to 54.3 per cent in the second quarters of 2010/11 and 2011/12,

The number of post-school age offenders in ETE fell by 13 per cent in the first quarter of 2011/12 compared to the previous year, but there was a significant rise in the second quarter, up to 55.3 per cent in 2011/12 from just 35 per cent in 2010/11.

Out of 35 school-age offenders, 19 were in full-time education, training or employment, while there were 21 post-school offenders in ETE out of a group of 38 in the second quarter of 2011/12.

Overall the total number of young offenders successfully finding full-time work or education fell by 11.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2011/12 from the same time the previous year, but rose slightly in the second quarter, from 51.8 per cent to 54.8 per cent.

Wigan also remains well behind the North West average of 71.6 per cent and the national average of 72.8 per cent for young offenders accessing further opportunities after release, with 61.4 per cent in ETE in the borough between April 2010 and March 2011.

Head of the early intervention and prevention service Sue Astbury acknowledged Wigan was facing a tough task to get young offenders into work during the economic downturn.

She said: “The figures demonstrate that the performance compared to other areas, in terms of reaching targets, is not as strong as it could be.

“We have been making good progress but taken a downturn this year, which is not surprising given the economic situation and is in line with other areas.

“We are not dealing with people on the edge of crime, but with people coming from backgrounds where there is offending in the family, where unemployment is generational, and young people have complex issues, often involving alcohol and drugs.”