Mental health needs of young offenders in custody and in the community

Wendy Macdonald, Prathiba Chitsabesan, Leo Kroll, Sue Bailey, Cassandra Kenning, Stephanie Sneider, Wendy MacDonald, Louise Theodosiou

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    Background: Research has revealed high levels of mental health needs in young offenders but many studies have been small, focusing on specific populations. Aims: To evaluate the mental health and psychosocial needs of a nationally representative sample of juvenile offenders in England and Wales, including female offenders and those from Black and minority ethnic groups. Method: A cross-sectional survey of 301 young offenders, 151 in custody and 150 in the community, was conducted in six geographically representative areas across England and Wales. Each young person was interviewed to obtain demographic information, mental health and social needs, and psychometric data. Results: Young offenders were found to have high levels of needs in a number of different areas including mental health (31%), education/work (36%) and social relationships (48%). Young offenders in the community had significantly more needs than those in secure care and needs were often unmet. One in five young offenders was also identified as having a learning disability (IQ <70). Conclusions: Needs for young offenders were high but often unmet. This emphasises the importance of structured needs assessment within custody and community settings in conjunction with a care programme approach that improves continuity of care.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)534-540
    Number of pages6
    JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
    Issue numberJUNE
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


    • Adolescent
    • organization & administration: Community Mental Health Services
    • Cross-Sectional Studies
    • epidemiology: England
    • Female
    • organization & administration: Forensic Psychiatry
    • statistics & numerical data: Health Services Needs and Demand
    • Health Services Research
    • Humans
    • ethnology: Juvenile Delinquency
    • Male
    • epidemiology: Mental Disorders
    • organization & administration: Mental Health Services
    • psychology: Prisoners
    • organization & administration: Prisons
    • Psychometrics
    • epidemiology: Wales


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