Young offenders and Restorative Justice: Language abilities, rates of recidivism and severity of crime.

  • Maxine Winstanley

Student thesis: Phd


There is a high prevalence of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) amongst young offenders. First time entrants to the Youth Justice Service (YJS), however, have yet to be considered. In recent years there has been a shift towards the use of restorative justice (RJ) in response to low level youth crime. Although there is speculation pertaining to the impact of DLD on RJ processes, the subject has yet to be empirically tested. Despite the prevalence rate of unidentified DLD in the YJS, little research exists considering the crime outcomes of young adults with identified DLD. A range of methods have been used in the studies included in this thesis, including secondary analysis on a longitudinal clinical cohort and survival analysis on novel data. The first two studies contained in this thesis relate to the longitudinal outcomes of young adults with DLD. They suggest that young adults with identified DLD, who have received early targeted intervention, have less adversarial contact with their local police and youth offending service than age matched peers. The participants also reported receiving increased levels of support from others, namely their parents, with tasks in early adulthood. The following two studies comprise of novel data collected to profile the psycholinguistic and socioemotional characteristics of young offenders, with and without, DLD and detail gender differences. Additionally, this thesis contains the first study to examine rates of reoffending and severity of crime in young offenders with and without DLD. Survival analysis indicated that the absolute risk of reoffending within a year of the young person’s court order was significantly higher for the youths with unidentified DLD compared to the youths without DLD. This risk persisted even when covariates were added to the model. The findings of this PhD provide support for the early identification and intervention for children with DLD. They also provide an important contribution to the risk assessment processes and methods of rehabilitation in the youth justice service. Directions for future research and potential improvements to RJ processes are discussed.
Date of Award31 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGina Conti-Ramsden (Supervisor) & Roger Webb (Supervisor)


  • Restorative Justice
  • Recidivism
  • Longitudinal research
  • Young Offenders
  • Developmental Language Disorder

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