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Gaps in Government plans will mean significant failure in "rehabilitation revolution"

Release Date: 28 Feb 2011

Children as young as 13 are being released from custody into unsuitable and unsafe housing, leaving them vulnerable to reoffending at huge cost to themselves, society and the Exchequer.

New Barnardo’s research published today has found that a young person caught in a cycle of homelessness and re-offending can cost the Government as much as £116,094 over three years - but if they receive the necessary support there could be savings of £67,000 per child.

Suitable accommodation and support for young people leaving custody is crucial in achieving successful rehabilitation. Yet in its work with thousands of young offenders Barnardo’s has found that significant numbers are leaving custody without a safe place to live. In 2009/10, 4,147 referrals were made to Barnardo’s to help young people in custody, and of these housing was a top five concern.

Calling for cross-governmental leadership and action, Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said:

These children can be all too easy to ignore, but our report shows that we do so at great cost to their young lives and society.

"Young people who offend are among the most vulnerable; a quarter have special educational needs and almost a fifth have depression, yet children as young as 13 are sent back to families who can’t cope and end up without a safe place to live.

"The Government is on the verge of a self-styled ‘rehabilitation revolution’ –  but there are gaps in the Ministry of Justice’s plans which must be filled to ensure we do right by these children and society by bringing down crime levels.

"We don’t say this lightly, we are all too aware of the cuts being made across the UK in an effort to fight the effects on the economic crisis we are in, but surely, if ever there is a case for return on investment this is it."

Barnardo’s report, No Fixed Abode: the accommodation struggle for young people leaving custody in England, calls for a cross-government action plan and dedicated senior officials from the MoJ, Department for Education and Department for Communities and Local Government to ensure that suitable accommodation for young people leaving custody is an issue of urgent priority.

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