Young crooks in Wigan are soon back in trouble

Reoffending rates for Wigan young offenders are high
Reoffending rates for Wigan young offenders are high

Nearly 40 per cent of youth offenders in Wigan re-offend within a year, a shocking new Ministry of Justice report reveals.

From October 2015 to September 2016, 141 young offenders either left custody, received a non-custodial conviction or received a caution. Of those, 54 committed a proven re-offence within a year.

Not only that each re-offender committed an average of four offences within this period and doubtless some committed many more than that.

The 141 young offenders, aged under 18, also had 734 previous convictions between them.

In England and Wales, 42 per cent of juvenile offenders committed another crime within a year, committing an average of 3.9 offences each.

The Ministry of Justice has cautioned that, since the figures only measure offences resulting in convictions or cautions, this could be a significant underestimate of the true level of re-offending.

Across England and Wales, juveniles are more likely to reoffend than adults. In Wigan 26 per cent of 2,368 adult offenders reoffended over the same period. Nationally, 29 per cent of adults reoffended.

Efforts are made to rehabilitate youngsters while they are incarcerated, training them for potential work when they are released and trying to make them more public spirited.

Youth justice practitioner on the Law Society criminal law committee, Greg Stewart, said that the way that juvenile crime is handled could be behind high youth reoffending rates.

According to Mr Stewart, who has been a practising defence lawyer for 25 years, children tend to only appear in court for more serious crimes, rather than minor misdemeanours.

He added: “As a result, those young people who are left still offending are the ‘kernel’ of offenders, often with complex and compound issues and serious problems at home and school.”

Mr Stewart said that budget cuts to local youth programs have also contributed to the problem.

He said: “The savings that will have been made by the reduced charging rates are not being reinvested in rehabilitating the more vulnerable repeat offenders.”

The Standing Committee for Youth Justice, a multi-member organisation with members including Barnardo’s and the NSPCC, says that the harsher the punishment, the more likely under-18s are to reoffend.

Deputy chair of the committee Penelope Gibbs said: “If we want to reduce the reoffending of children we need to try and keep them out of the formal criminal justice system and out of prison.

"We instead need to address the trauma, mental health problems and behavioural difficulties which lead to them committing crime in the first place.”