A project to cut youth reoffending rates, already mired in controversy when the Mayor falsely or mistakenly claimed it was doing better than it was, is to close.
Project Daedalus, at Feltham’s Heron Unit, aimed to get young offenders into jobs or education when they left. But only 50% were found places and just one in six stuck them out for at least six months. Money for the scheme came from a European fund and when it runs out this summer there’ll be no more.
The Unit has also seen disappointing reoffending rates. Boris Johnson initially told people reoffending had dropped from 80% (the national headline rate) to below 20%, but was using figures his office had been told were preliminary (the row escalated to the point where the Mayor called the head of the UK Statistics Authority, a former private secretary to Margaret Thatcher, a “Labour stooge“). Last October the rate had risen to 40% and the final figure, likely to be higher, won’t be known until summer. For a trial using low-risk offenders showing a “willingness to change“, that’s not particularly successful.
David Lammy is fuming. He told the BBC
A few years ago this was the flagship – you can’t just discard it quietly, you’ve got to explain why you’ve decided to destroy it.
Which is a bit harsh – if it’s not working, it’s not working. Apparently Boris wants to set up a new initiative if he’s re-elected (though we’re pretty sure any candidate will want to do something about turning young people’s lives around) and is being urged to spend money on early interventions.