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Pioneering prison project 'saves thousands' by helping cut re-offending

The Deputy Mayor of Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, has welcomed the findings of an independent Ipsos MORI report which has praised a pioneering resettlement project at Feltham Young Offenders Institute for making considerable savings by helping prevent re-offending. The Deputy Mayor made his comments as he addressed the annual Youth Justice Board convention in Birmingham.

Project Daedalus, a three year pilot project aimed at tackling high rates of youth re-offending, is a unique partnership project between the Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC), the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Youth Justice Board (YJB) and other agencies, which formed part of the Mayor's long term strategy to tackle youth crime, and find preventative measures that helped steer vulnerable young people away from crime.

The enhanced 'resettlement' unit (known as the Heron Unit) within Feltham was developed for young offenders ready to make positive changes during their sentences, and each young offender was given a key worker (a resettlement broker), who tailored a programme of structured activities and training to help prepare them for effective release and reintegration into the community. Many of the boys were given day release to attend training and job interviews, with three securing places at University.

The Deputy Mayor of Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh said: 'These results show a positive reduction in reoffending that was cost-effective, and means we have fewer victims of crime in London. Lessons gained from the Heron Unit are now informing the youth offending strategy across the entire country. This pioneering project has helped some damaged young people get into a better place, largely thanks to the resettlement brokers and the dedication of the staff at Feltham, and contributed to the growing evidence base that resettlement can work. We now need to go beyond this small pilot and help create a rehabilitation revolution in the capital.

'We will be having conversations with the Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice to make sure the learning is spread and that money spent on young offenders in secure accommodation goes towards getting them into the world of work. Education and employment are the tools many young people need to get them firmly back on the right path. '

The Ipsos MORI report made the following findings observations:

- The programme represented excellent value for money and the criminal justice savings attributable to the programme were estimated to be between £580,000 and £1,160,000 in the first year.

- 24 per cent of the offenders within the unit were sentenced for robbery; 19 per cent violence against the person. 67 per cent first time in custody; 26 per cent identified as having gang involvement.

- The Unit's re-offending rate was 53 per cent – this equates to 37 young people out of 70 who left custody from end Oct 2009 to end Sep 2010 and re-offended in the first 12 months following the discharge. For the same period the national rate was 70 per cent and Feltham YOI was 72 per cent, although Heron unit has a much smaller cohort.

- Positive relationships between the young people, officers and resettlement brokers. Young people involved felt that staff had a positive impact on their attitudes toward offending

- 56 per cent entered education, training or employment (73 per cent of these entered into education, 17 per cent employment and 10 per cent training). It was noted that lower numbers than desired secured employment, which was not helped high rates of youth employment nationally.

Following the success of the Heron pilot, the Mayor is investing up to £3.5 million of European Social Fund match funding towards providing resettlement brokers to help turn around offenders from London over the next three years. The fund will target 14 - 17 year olds who have either been remanded or sentenced to custody and support them through the difficult transition on release, motivating them to access education, training or employment. Resettlement brokers will be placed in the main secure units in England that house London offenders (including Feltham, Cookham Wood, Ashford, Medway, Holloway and Downview).

The Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime has worked in partnership with the Youth Justice Board, Ministry of Justice, local boroughs, London Criminal Justice Partnership and Rathbone to deliver the Heron wing resettlement project.

Many of the ex- Heron young offenders have so far managed to turn their backs on crime, with three boys in university and many securing work in retail, building and sports related fields.

Research tells us that most children of under school leaving age who go to custody are not in mainstream school. Breaking the cycle of re-offending, getting a job or staying in education or training is a major achievement for many of these young offenders.

Notes to editors

For more information and to view the report visit www.london.gov.uk/priorities/crime-community-safety/time-action/project-daedalus

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