JOURNAL ARTICLE

Six years on: a prospective cohort study of male juvenile offenders in secure care

Prathiba Chitsabesan, Justine Rothwell, Cassandra Kenning, Heather Law, Lesley- Ann Carter, Sue Bailey, Andrew Clark
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2012, 21 (6): 339-47
22427059
Longitudinal studies are helpful in understanding developmental trajectories and recognising opportunities for early intervention. This paper describes the long-term needs and mental health of an initial sample of male juvenile offenders, now adults 6 years after their index admission to secure care. In this prospective cohort study of 97 male juvenile offenders admitted to secure, offenders were assessed initially on admission, 2 and 6 years later. Interviews were conducted with 54 offenders at the 6-year follow-up and included an assessment of psychosocial need, mental health and psychopathy. Outcome data on offending behaviour were collected on a total of 71 offenders. Persistent offenders have needs in multiple domains as they transition into adulthood. The majority of offenders were single and about a half were in neither employment nor training. Almost nine out of ten offenders had a substance misuse disorder and a similar number met the criteria for a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. Substance misuse in adolescence was strongly correlated with later substance misuse in adulthood, emphasising the importance of early intervention. A diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and living with friends and family were both significantly associated with persistent offending behaviour. Many offenders continued to reoffend despite receiving offence-related interventions and custodial care. Interventions currently aimed at reducing recidivism in more severe offenders appear to be ineffective. Persistent offenders would benefit from a multi-modal approach based on individual needs, rather than receiving generic interventions.

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