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Shadow Justice Minister visits Together’s new Rotherham project for vulnerable young adults

Posted on 02, May 2014

Dan Jarvis, Labour MP for Barnsley Central and Shadow Minister for Justice, will today visit Together’s new Rotherham service for young adults in contact with the criminal justice system.

The service provides support to 17 to 24-year-olds from the point they come into contact with police and emergency services in Rotherham. Together’s local team will help young adults to manage their mental wellbeing and to avoid future contact with police or overuse of emergency services. Mr Jarvis’ visit coincides with the official launch of the project, which started taking referrals this March.

Part of the national T2A Transition to Adulthood Alliance Pathway programme, funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust, the service helps young adults to access community resources to help with areas such as employment and training, housing, mental health and substance misuse. They are supported to identify, understand and alter any behaviours that are creating distress, and to develop tools to uphold these changes. This might include building emotional awareness, confidence, negotiation and problem-solving skills, as well as strengthening their relationships with others, such as family and friends.

Dan Jarvis will have the opportunity to talk to staff and hear of young people’s experiences to learn about how the service works in practice and how young adults benefit.

Alison Thorne, who manages the service for Together, says: “The young people we see often have very chaotic lives – they may have mental health and drug and alcohol problems, complex social needs and be at risk of offending or of abuse by others. Frequently, they’ve not been able to get the support they need, or don’t even know support is available. With nowhere else to turn, their situation gets so bad that they end up in a cell having dialled 999 or been picked up by police.

“Often, no one has ever asked them how they’re feeling, or explored what might be behind their behaviour, leaving them at risk of getting caught in the justice system rather than being directed to specialist support. We can listen to them, find out what’s not going well for them and work with them to take steps towards improving their situation”.

Dan Jarvis MP, Shadow Justice Minister, said: “Young people with mental health problems are significantly over-represented in youth custody, and far too many end up coming into contact with the criminal justice system because they are unable to access support at an earlier stage. Much more needs to be done to tackle this if we want to stop youth crime before it starts and successfully rehabilitate young people who do commit offences.

“We need a youth justice system that both recognises and caters for complex needs, particularly for vulnerable teenagers making the difficult transition from children to adult support services. This is especially important at a time when general child and adolescent mental health services are being devastated and many young people are struggling to get the support they need.

“I’m delighted to visit Rotherham and see the work Together are doing to make a difference in this area.”

Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin of South Yorkshire Police said: With the support of South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, other strategic partners and Barrow Cadbury Trust itself, this is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that vulnerable 18-24 year olds receive the support and direction they need to prevent them coming into ‎the criminal justice system. If they do enter the criminal justice system, the service looks at preventing them entering the system again in the future.

“This project ensures that all of the necessary professionals (police, medical, mental health, local authority) are engaged with these young people at the earliest opportunity, which is of massive benefit to everyone involved.”

Together designed the service in response to a specific local need identified by Rotherham Police. A significant number of callouts in the area are related to wellbeing and crisis, and young people aged 17 to 24 often fall between children’s and adult services, ultimately coming into contact with emergency services because they haven’t been able to get the support they need.

Until now, there were no services in Rotherham in place to prevent young adults from entering the criminal justice system that specifically targeted those transitioning to adulthood. This is in spite of evidence that young people aged 17 to 24 are the most likely to commit a criminal offence, but also the most likely to desist with the right support1.

The service is one of six that form the T2A (Transition to Adulthood) Alliance’s three-year national Pathway programme to deliver interventions to young adults involved with the criminal justice system. Together runs the project in partnership with South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH). In addition to support from Barrow Cadbury Trust, match funding has been secured from the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner with additional funds provided by the Clinical Commissioning Group.

  1. T2A: Pathways From Crime Summary Report; p2 & p8. 2012:

For more information on the Rotherham Pathways project please contact the Coordinator Alison Thorne