Public protection in youth justice? the intensive supervision and surveillance programme from the inside

Tom Ellis, Nick Pamment, Chris Lewis

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In 2001, the Youth Justice Board of England & Wales introduced the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP). It was quickly hailed as the most robust community-based sanction available for the most serious and persistent young offenders. However, it has been dogged by high reconviction rates. This paper undertakes first a review of the international evidence base for the effectiveness of all types of intensive supervision, before focusing specifically on its effectiveness within youth justice. It then presents our findings from fieldwork (participant observation, interviews and questionnaires) carried out within two Youth Offending Teams, comparing the views of supervisors and the supervised young offenders. The conclusions show that ISSP is not founded on sound evidence. Our own evidence suggests a number of reasons why ISSP does not work, and is not likely to, in its present form. Most importantly, it is clear that ISSP cannot provide the level of public protection claimed with such a severe offending group, and therefore does not aid the realistic promotion of greater use of community sentences. The article makes suggestions for an alternative approach to dealing with serious and persistent offenders in the community, based on the views of the young offenders subject to ISSP and the staff who supervise them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-413
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Police Science & Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


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