A new report by the cross-party Home Affairs Committee has called on the government to place more emphasis on early intervention when it comes to dealing with potential young offenders.
The report by the group of MP's praises initiatives such as the Sure Start scheme, but said efforts to prevent opportunities for crime need to be improved.
Cost benefit analysis demonstrates that while the average cost to the taxpayer of having a young person in the criminal justice system is £200,000 by the age of 16, less than £50,000 is needed to support a young person to stay out of the system. Therefore, more should be done to prevent vulnerable youths turning to crime.
The report states: "A more effective long-term prevention strategy must focus on early intervention with young children and their parents.
"Short custodial sentences make effective rehabilitation almost impossible, but the high level of breaches regrettably make it difficult for us to give unqualified support to greater use of community sentences as an alternative," the report states.
- Home Affairs Committee Report: The Government's Approach to Crime Prevention (March 2010)
- Justice Committee Report: Cutting crime: the case for justice reinvestment (Jan 2010)