Detention, treatment and follow-up care for young offenders; Impact Assessment
The Netherlands Court of Audit has investigated the detention, treatment and follow-up care for young offenders. In this impact assessment, we considered whether the minister had followed up the recommendations we had made in the Detention, treatment and follow-up care for young offenders report we published in 2007. We looked at whether the measures the minister had taken further to our 2007 audit had helped young offenders successfully return to society following their detention, treatment and follow-up care and whether they no longer committed offences (i.e. did not re-offend).
Quality of detention and treatment in young offenders' institutions
In our 2007 Detention, treatment and follow-up care for young offenders report, we commented on the organisation of the detention and treatment system. The legislation applicable at the time did not provide all young people with the treatment they needed. We also found that the conditions in young offenders' institutions did not satisfy the statutory requirements.
We conclude in our Impact Assessment report that the quality of detention and treatment in young offenders' institutions has improved. The Minister of Security and Justice (V&J) and his predecessor have adopted all the recommendations we had made to improve the quality of detention and treatment.
We also conclude that the quality improvements have required a substantial financial investment. On average, the government pays 83% more in nominal terms for detention and treatment in a young offenders' institution today than it did in 2007. In 2012, this is equal to €563 a day (not including the cost of education and youth probation services).
Current developments relating to the declining number of detainees in young offenders' institutions, however, are jeopardising both the quality improvements that have already been made and the achievement of further improvements. The Minister of V&J has taken measures to limit the consequences of the declining numbers. He noted in his budget for 2012 that he wished to lock in the quality improvements that have been made.
Quality of follow-up care for young offenders
In 2007 we had found that the transition from complete detention to complete freedom was abrupt for many young people. The youth probation services had not been involved with any of the young offenders included in our sample.
We conclude in our Impact Assessment that the Minister of V&J has taken a series of measures to ensure that follow-up care is an integral part of the process young people undergo between arriving at a young offenders' institution and the end of their punishment. The various parties involved in the process pay systematic attention to follow-up care and make agreements on it.
We also conclude that steps have been taken to improve the cooperation and exchange of information between the parties in the chain. We found, however, that permanent attention is required to ensure that the improvements are not lost and that cooperation is strengthened further.
Impact of policy
In 2007 we had concluded that not enough was known about the effectiveness of detention and treatment in young offenders' institutions.
We conclude in the Impact Assessment that the Minister of V&J has still not developed a method to determine whether:
- young offenders receive the treatment and follow-up care they are entitled to (outputs);
- the measures taken between 2007 and 2011 have reduced re-offending among young offenders (impact).
We also conclude that the minister has still not carried out an initial impact assessment.
We recommend that the Minister of Security and Justice determine in 2012 whether the young people in youth offenders' institutions receive what they are entitled to, i.e. whether the institutions deliver the agreed outputs. We also recommend that the ministry develop a method in 2012/2013 to determine the social impact of detention, treatment and follow-up care for young offenders. Finally, we recommend that the minister measure the impact as from 2013.
The State Secretary for Security and Justice was pleased that the Court of Audit acknowledged the improvements the youth custodial sector had made. He recognises that permanent efforts are needed to lock in the improvements.
The state secretary thinks it is time to pay more attention to demonstrating the impact of detention, treatment and follow-up care in young offenders' institutions as priority has been given in recent years to improving the provision of services. He summed up a number of initiatives that had recently been taken.
The state secretary notes that measuring results and impacts is very complex. Nevertheless, he thinks it is important to show that treatment in a young offenders' institution makes a positive contribution to reducing the risk of re-offending.
The state secretary thinks it is not possible to determine the cost effectiveness of the treatment in and the follow-up care provided after detention in a young offenders' institution.
We assume that the state secretary will ensure that the quality improvements are locked in. We understand that gaining an insight into cost effectiveness is complex. Nevertheless, we believe there are opportunities to do so. In our opinion, a final diagnosis of a young person upon leaving a young offenders' institution could be compared with changes brought about during detention and the cost of that detention, including specific treatments.