Working it out
: perceptions of community reparation

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Community reparation for young offenders was introduced under section 67 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and it involves the completion of unpaid work, such as painting and decorating, litter picking and graffiti removal. The Youth Justice Board (YJB) places significant emphasis on community reparation as a successful sanction, but concern has been raised about the poor quality of workplace provision and the deteriorating performance of the disposal. Crucially however, there has been no research explicitly focusing on youth justice community reparation within England and Wales.
This study, therefore, reviews and integrates the research and evaluation evidence base for both adult community service and youth justice community reparation and as a result, establishes the most comprehensive model for the effective delivery of unpaid work, including the acquisition of employability skills. It then examines community reparation in practice within a single Youth Offending Team (YOT), utilising a combined methods approach and drawing upon the experiences of young offenders and their supervisors.
This research shows that community reparation in practice does not match the available evidence base of what is thought to be effective. In particular, the YOT studied has adopted a formulaic approach to workplace allocation, with an over-reliance on low cost menial tasks. As a result, offenders and their supervisors are frustrated that such placements do not provide employability skills, a key factor associated with reductions in reoffending.
This study concludes that youth justice community reparation has the potential to be a highly successful re-integrative intervention for young people, but it argues that more attention needs to be paid to the rehabilitative potential of the disposal. The study also suggests there is a need to disseminate an ‘evidenced-based best practice model’ for the successful delivery of community reparation to all YOTs, sentencers and relevant Inspectorate staff. This will contribute to increasing staff awareness and commitment to the disposal, making a valuable potential contribution to reductions in the use of imprisonment and its associated costs.
Date of AwardJul 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorTom Ellis (Supervisor)

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