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AFRICAN YOUTH IN THE UNITED KINGDOM PRISON

Posted by on January 30, 2013

(Being a paper presented by Mr. Nathaniel Oyinloye, Project Director, Hospital and Prison Action Network (HPAN), a UK registered Charity Organization. at the IDAY-UK Conference in London on 16th June 2012)

African Youth in the United Kingdom Prison

Population of African Youths in UK Prison

According to National Statistics on Race and Criminal Justice System 2010, published in October 2011, the following are figures as it relates to Blacks in the Criminal Justice System:

Prison Population – 2010

13..7%
Stop and Search (s1) 2009/10

14.6%
Arrests 2009/10

8%
Population aged 10 or over 2009

2.7%

Per 1000 of population searched, black persons were stopped and searched 7 times more than white people in 2009/10. In terms of prison population, more black people than white people per head population are imprisoned. The ethnic minority population has doubled in a decade from 11,332 in 1998 to 22,421 in 2008.

The table below shows the types and number of offence committed by black youth during 2010/11
Breach of statutory order

798
Drugs

1,445
Robbery

1,925
Theft and handling stolen goods

1,871
Violence against the person

2,879

In total more than 12,000 various types of offences were committed during 2010/11 by black youths .

Why the increase in African Youth in Criminal Justice System?
There are many issues that have impacted on young black people to be involved in criminal activities. Some examples of these issues include:

Lack of Education
Mental and physical illness
A life in care/living arrangements
Lack of roots – homelessness /temporary accommodation
Unemployment
Influence of drugs
Family and personal relationships
Thinking and behaviour
Perception of self and others
Neighbourhood

Action plan to reduce the incident of African Youth in Crime
To reduce the trend in the increase of black youth being involved in criminal activities, the following action is required:

There must be early intervention with families more effectively to stop kids going into prison.
Look at the causes of school exclusions and find solutions to the causes
Deal with the issue of mental health and substance abuse.

Support System for Black Youth Offender/Prisoners

Support system within the Prison ~ Probation and Prison Officers must provide various intervention courses whilst in prison custody so as to prepare them on their release into the community. These preparations will reduce their re-offending rate.

Support system outside the Prison ~ Once released from custody, Probation officers should be able to continue to provide adequate support so as to settle the offender into the community. This support will go along way to reduce the risk of re-offending.

Family/friends Support both inside and outside the prison ~ To maintain stability, both friends and family should play active role in the rehabilitation of the offender. Unfortunately in some instances there is no such support because the family are abroad.

Provision of adequate training whilst in custody ~ Education and training should be tailored to the need of the offender during custody. This will assist the offender to gain the necessary skills and confidence that will support the offender during rehabilitation as well as reduce re-offending rate.

Impact of custody on Young Offender:
Although the objective of custodial sentence is to correct the wrong doing of the young offender, there is the possibility or risk that he comes out worse and becomes persistence offender because:
· Youth may adopt a new criminal behaviour
· Youth may become drug addict because drugs are commonly available in prison
· Young people may see their custodial sentence as if the society is against them.

Support from Hospital and Prison Action Network (HPAN)
Hospital and Prison Action Network (HPAN) is a welfare and humanitarian registered charity organisation. Our organisation believes that most of the young people turn to crime due to lack of emotional and physical support.
HPAN will:
· Offer free training, education, provision of workshops during and after custody of young people
· Free confidential one to one counselling
· Befriending and advice
. Mentoring
. Visit Hospital & Prison
· Tackle crime and reduce young people re-offending via early intervention.