A DOZEN youngsters in Barnsley - some as young as ten - reoffended within a year of a previous conviction, new figures have shown.
Ministry of Justice figures for 2021 showed 12 of the 52 offenders in Barnsley aged up to 17 went on to commit a further crime despite having been convicted or released from a young offender institute.
Prison reform campaigners said children who end up in prison are being failed by a system that offers little chance of education or rehabilitation.
Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Children in the criminal justice system are some of the most vulnerable in society, often with histories of abuse and neglect.
“That is what leads them to commit crimes in the first place.
“Historically this means that those children have higher reoffending rates than adults, which partly reflects the fact that many people fortunately ‘grow out of’ crime.
“That said, there is no doubt that children who end up in prison are all too often being failed and accessing very little in the way of education or rehabilitation. Without support to help them out of crime, it can be no surprise if they go on to reoffend once released.”
Meanwhile, 469 of 1,798 adult criminals committed further offences.
The overall reoffending rate in Barnsley was 26 per cent - slightly less than in 2019, when it was 26.2 per cent.
Nick Emmerson, the president of the Law Society, added “Reoffending is yet another issue that is impacted by systemic underfunding of the criminal justice system.
“To succeed in reducing reoffending rates, there needs to be investment in rehabilitation, particularly in relation to literacy and addiction, and support for those who have offended because of reasons connected with their mental health.
“This investment is likely to pay for itself in terms of reduced crime, reduced numbers of cases coming into the courts and reduced pressure on prisons. It needs to be one part of an overall strategy of investing effectively throughout the system to create a justice system fit for the 21st century.”
Of the 481 reoffenders in Barnsley, the most - 129 - were found guilty of offences.
These can include common assault, breach of supervision requirements and breaking into a house.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “This government is doing more than ever to support children and young people caught up in the justice system - investing millions into local services to help them get their lives back on track.
“At the same time, the number of children and young people entering the justice system has fallen by 78 per cent over the last decade.
“We are looking closely at what else can be done to improve support for young people both in and out of custody.”