Prison Sentences: School Exclusions

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 10th September 2021.

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Photo of Sharon Hodgson Sharon Hodgson Labour, Washington and Sunderland West

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the number of people with a custodial sentence aged (a) 13 to 18 and (b) 19 to 21 who had previously been educated in (i) alternative provision, (ii) received a fixed term exclusion from school and (iii) were permanently excluded from school before receiving a custodial sentence in each year since 2015.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The government recognises the importance of education and schooling in preventing young people being drawn into criminality and offending.

The cross-government Beating Crime Plan published in July announced a targeted investment of over £45 million in specialist support in both mainstream schools and Alternative Provision (AP) in serious violence hotspots, to support young people at risk of involvement in violence to re-engage in education.

The AP Specialist Taskforces programme aims to provide intensive multi-agency support to vulnerable children and young people in AP most at risk of disengaging with education, being criminally exploited by gangs, and becoming involved in county lines and knife crime.

In addition, the government is also introducing ‘SAFE Taskforces’ in serious violence hotspots which will be led by local mainstream schools, to protect young people from serious violence who are truant and at risk of being permanently excluded. SAFE Taskforces will work directly with the police, social care, Violence Reduction Units and voluntary sector organisations to identify those at risk to re-engage them in education.

The full information requested by the question could only be obtained at disproportionate cost as it would require a manual review of cases.

In 2019, the Ministry of Justice published a one-off piece of analysis in collaboration with the Department for Education on understanding the educational background of offenders which will cover some of the issues raised in the question. The analysis compares male and female offenders’ educational attainment, pupil characteristics (such as Special Educational Needs), persistent absence and exclusion.

See pages 45-51 in the Women and the Criminal Justice System 2019 report here:

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