Serco and its long-term voluntary and community sector partner Catch22, have launched an innovative pilot scheme in the capital aimed at supporting young offenders aged 16 and 17 years completing community sentences.
Six young offenders across five London Boroughs have already been assigned a Catch22 mentor who will provide a range of support and guidance, including valuable educational and employment skills support, to help them complete their sentences. Every 16 and 17 year old given a youth rehabilitation order by the courts with a requirement to complete Community Payback will be given the opportunity to benefit from this support in the pilot areas. The mentors will assist young offenders to make positive changes to their lives, and ultimately reduce re-offending.
The initiative, which has been developed in conjunction with Youth Offending and Probation Teams in several London Boroughs, will initially be rolled out across Croydon, Islington, Camden, Greenwich & Lewisham and Wandsworth. Wandsworth Council's children services spokesperson, Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "We believe mentors can play an important role in helping young people to break cycles of offending behaviour. Many of these teenagers are at a crucial juncture in their lives and could benefit enormously from one-on-one support."
As part of the pilot, Serco is also looking to improve the type of placements available to young people while continuing to be mindful of gang-related issues across the capital. This could include more group work placements, which allow for young offenders to gain valuable work experience. If successful, the intention is to extend the scheme to other London Boroughs later in the year.
Nick Cameron, Serco's Contract Director for Community Payback said: "We have been working closely with Catch22 and Youth Offending Teams to develop this exciting new pilot. Currently, many young offenders undertaking Community Payback fail to comply with their order or finish their sentence. Our aim is to ensure that young offenders complete their orders and have the support they need to help turn their lives, while also improving the offer for courts with more placements suitable for this age group."
Chris Wright, Chief Executive of Catch22 added: "This innovative mentoring service has been designed specifically for this younger age group. Mentors will bring their different skills and experience to help these 16 and 17 year olds complete their community sentences and support to prevent re-offending."
The public can nominate a project in their local community for Community Payback by contacting with a description and location of the project. Please also provide your name and full contact details, including an email address and where applicable the name of your organisation.