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Innovation, Justice and Youth

Published Date: 20 February 2008

A programme of work looking at ways of cutting youth offending, to include analysis, assessments of current projects and developing new alternatives.


Innovation within the criminal justice system and related spheres is desperately needed. Year on year we see a steady rise in the prison population, with especially alarming trends amongst young people, children, and women.


Prisons are overstretched, overcrowded and under-funded. The time and resources available for purposeful activity, learning and rehabilitation are limited. Reconviction rates are high, with roughly two-thirds of prisoners being re-convicted within two years. The rates are even higher for young people, with almost 80% returning into custody within two years. Moreover, the cost of crime continues to rise. Aside from the cost of wasted human potential, the overall cost of the criminal justice system have risen from 2% of GDP to 2.5% over the last ten years. That is a higher per capita level than the US or any EU country. Levels of public confidence in the criminal justice system are low.


The case for innovation is clear: current methods, models and institutions are failing. We need innovative and effective ways of preventing and reducing re-offending in order to maximise human potential in the criminal justice arena whilst preventing unnecessary harm to both victims and offenders caused by excessive use of incarceration. To this end, the Young Foundation has recently embarked on a new programme of work entitled Innovation, Justice and Youth. The programme will focus primarily on children and young adults.


There are three key streams to this programme:

  • Enabling innovation - identifying, empowering and promoting innovative approaches to reducing offending and the use of custody, and to maximise human potential among vulnerable populations.
  • Influencing policy – producing a number of policy reports focusing on key priority areas, including, for example, mental health and substance misuse, and skills and learning.
  • Shifting public opinion – exploring how public opinion can support innovative approaches to reducing offending.
  • For more information please contact Senior Research Associate Anton Shelupanov at the Young Foundation