Mayor answers to London

Project Daedalus

Question number3453/2010
Meeting date13/10/2010

Question by Kit Malthouse

I note that you have secured an expansion of Project Daedalus across London following significant success for young offenders from the 6 Diamond District Boroughs; Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Hackney and Newham.

Given that you will now be providing Resettlement Brokers for young offenders from all London Boroughs, what level of local authority input is needed to maximise benefit for the city as a whole?

Answer by Boris Johnson (1st Term)

The next question is Project Daedalus. The Conservative Group has advised me that it has now changed this into the name of James Cleverly.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): This is a fantastic investment for London: Project Daedalus. I believe in it very, very strongly. Do not forget the annual cost of keeping a young offender in Feltham is £54,000 for one bed. If you can stop reoffending and if you can prevent people from coming out and reoffending you can save millions: £20 million a year by reducing the reoffending rate just by 30%. At the Heron Unit we have got it down from 80% of young people coming out and reoffending to 8%. That is a fantastic achievement. What I want to see are boroughs working with us on Daedalus and helping us to find the resettlement brokers, the key people who help the kids as they come out of prison, and help to stop them going off the rails again.

James Cleverly (AM): Thank you for that, Mr Mayor. I think that the difference between the typically 70%/80% reoffending rates that we would normally expect with the cohort of young offenders being cut by an order of magnitude is a very important point. I also understand that there is, currently, a waiting list within the Young Offenders Institution at Feltham to go into the Heron Unit which is part of the Project Daedalus programme. Are there any plans to extend this programme into a second wing at the Young Offenders Institution?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): If we can get the funding for it then I would like to expand it. I do think it is working. What we are looking at particularly now, as you know, is expanding the catchment area, as it were, of those who go into the Heron Unit to other parts of London. The key precondition is we get the support of the boroughs in helping us with the resettlement brokers. Whether or not we can afford a new wing now is a difficult question at the moment. I am afraid, like other things we have discussed, that may have to await the outcome of the CSR.

James Cleverly (AM): Thank you. One of the things which I think is very evident is the huge contrast between reoffending rates previous to this scheme and the reoffending rates post this scheme. You mentioned the £54,000 per person per year cost of incarcerating a young person. There are very immediate financial benefits which will be realised by the Ministry of Justice directly as a result of this programme. Could we make representations to be able to capture some of that downstream saving and reinvest it in a further expansion of this scheme?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Absolutely right. That is the principle on which we are operating. We want the savings that we generate as a result of the Heron scheme to be ploughed back into London and into investing in the education of young offenders because that is the way to turn them away from what they are doing.

James Cleverly (AM): Thank you very much.

Main question

Kit Malthouse