Young people and parole: risk aware or risk averse?

Hazel Kemshall

in Children and young people in custody

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9781847422613
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301752 | DOI:
Young people and parole: risk aware or risk averse?

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The United Kingdom currently has one of the highest juvenile prison populations in Western Europe. This is against a backdrop of falling crime rates but heightened public, media and political perceptions to the contrary. The Commissioner for Human Rights noted that ‘juvenile trouble-makers’ in the UK were ‘too rapidly drawn into the criminal justice system and young offenders are too readily placed in detention’. The decade following the murder of Jamie Bulger in the UK saw a ‘punitive populist’ response to youth crime, with a doubling of custodial sentences since 1992, in a decade that has seen youth crime decrease by 16 percent. Perceived scandals and crises in parole and the community management of offenders (including young offenders) have also resulted in an increased tightening of the system. Corrective actions can create a risk-averse culture (and are often the product of a politically risk-averse culture). Over time, there is potential for the balance to move from calculated risk taking to risk aversion, from defensibility to defensiveness.

Keywords: United Kingdom; young people; parole; risk taking; risk aversion; youth crime; offenders

Chapter.  5979 words. 

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