You are here: Our New Generation campaigners call for police reform

Revolving Doors research finds over half of young adults aged 18-25 don’t think the police understand them or the challenges they face.

Our new research, published today, shows that young adults and the wider public want to see police reform. Young adults want their health and human needs to be prioritised so that they do not unnecessarily get dragged into the criminal justice system.

Our survey of 689 young adults across England and Wales reveals that:

  • 7 in 10 believe that police treat them differently if they are from a deprived area, or if they are a person of colour
  • Vulnerable young adults with disabilities or mental health issues were less likely to have trust or confidence in police, and were less likely to think policing was fair or that it kept them safe
  • The more often young adults had contact with police, the less likely they were to have trust or confidence in them
  • Of the young adults in recent contact with mental health services, 45% were in contact with the police
  • Although, 7 in 10 still believe that the police are a force for good

An independent poll reveals the public want police to handle non-violent crime differently: 

  • Over two thirds (68%) of young adults, and 60% of all adults, think police should divert people into support services if they are arrested for low-level and non-violent crimes like shoplifting or minor drug offences.
  • 75% of young adults, and 60% of all adults, agree that drugs should be treated as a health problem, instead of a crime.

Coming up with solutions

Young adults, as part of our New Generation Campaigners, are today launching a campaign to reduce arrests of vulnerable young adults for non-violent crime, and get police to divert them into support instead. They have designed clear asks for government, Police and Crime Commissioners, and the police. We will be working with these young adults to press for change.

Crucially there are already Police and Crime Commissioners, and police that want to see change too. Whilst we already have support from local areas and senior leadership, we want to ramp up that change. We are asking police to make a personal commitment to work with young adults to develop new approaches.  

Pavan Dhaliwal, Chief Executive of Revolving Doors Agency, said,

“The findings of the survey and polling are clear, firstly, the current system is not working and is actually harming young people and secondly, there is public support for an different approach that helps young people address the underlying causes of their behaviour.

“Government and police leadership must focus on keeping vulnerable young adults out of the criminal justice system, especially when they’ve committed minor crimes. That is why our campaigners are calling for them to understand the issues facing young adults and divert them into support. Simply put, arresting these young people over and over again will not work.

“The pandemic has bought into sharp focus the need to tackle the underlying causes that lead to young people falling into the system, namely, poverty, trauma, and inequality. Now is the time to re-think our approach.”  

New Generation young adult campaigners, said,

Anthony: “Now is the time to listen to us. We are the next generation of potential politicians, firefighters, nurses… our voices should be heard.

“This campaign shows that policing can be done differently. If police focused on our potential and tried to understand us, we could start to build better lives and avoid getting pulled into the system.”

Vilson: “Growing up, my family always struggled. I wanted to support them and for us to be financially stable which is how I got involved in crime.

“I had so much drive and motivation but nowhere to put it. If my needs had been recognised by the police and I’d been diverted into the right support, I could have avoided years of crime and had the chance to thrive.”


New Generation Campaigners is a group of young adults with experience of the criminal justice system who are campaigning for police reform. They been brought together by Revolving Doors Agency to explore how police can better respond to the needs of young adults.

Survey: conducted in December 2020 got responses from 689 young adult members of the public (18-25-year-olds) in England and Wales.

Public poll: A poll on the public perceptions towards diversion services was commissioned by Revolving Doors and conducted by Populus in October 2020, who surveyed a representative sample of 2,034 adults in the UK, of which there were 232 young adults.

New Generation Campaign

Our New Generation Campaigners are leading a campaign to reduce the arrest of vulnerable young adults, and are calling for the police to divert them into support instead. Sign up to support their call to action.