Younger offenders were considerably more likely to escape or try to escape compared to their older counterparts. More than 80 per cent of offenders who successfully escaped, and almost 90 per cent of those who tried to escape, were younger than 35. This cohort only makes up just over half (58%) of the custodial population, and is therefore substantially over-represented in escapes and escape attempts. Almost all of these offenders were male.

Young people also account for a very large proportion of the attempted (but unsuccessful) escapes. Almost one third of attempted escapes involved people aged 13 to 18 and another third involved those aged 13 to 14.

Risk taking behaviours by adolescent and young adults (which would include attempting to escape from legal custody) are well documented. The adolescent brain is widely considered to be still developing well into the young person’s mid-20s. Research suggests that this can lead to an increased propensity towards risky, sensation-seeking behaviour.

Offenders under 24 years of age who escaped were also more likely to do so in company with a co-offender. Research shows that adolescents and young adults are far more likely to engage in risky behaviour in the presence of peers. Similar results were observed in this Office’s review of custodial roof ascents where younger prisoners and juvenile detainees were more likely to engage in roof ascents in pairs or larger groups.

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