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Chaos, containment and change: Responding to persistent offending by young people

Batchelor, Susan and McNeill, Fergus (2002) Chaos, containment and change: Responding to persistent offending by young people. Youth Justice, 2 (1). pp. 27-43. ISSN 1747-6283

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This article reviews policy developments in Scotland concerning 'persistent young offenders' and then describes the design of a study intended to assist a local planning group in developing its response. The key findings of a review of casefiles of young people involved in persistent offending are reported. It emerges that youth crime and young people involved in offending are more complex and heterogeneous than is sometimes assumed. This, along with a review of some literature about desistance from offending, reaffirms the need for properly individualised interventions. Studies of 'desisters' suggest the centrality of effective and engaging working relationships in this process. However, these studies also re-assert the significance of the social contexts of workers' efforts to bring 'change' out of 'chaos'. We conclude therefore that the 'new correctionalism' must be tempered with appreciation of the social exclusion of young people who offend.