Supporting young offenders through desistance process – implications for policing young people in the Maldives

Rishweena Ahmed (Western Sydney University)
Over the last two decades, there has been a growing body of research and theoretical speculation on what motivates persistent offenders to stop offending or desist from crime at some point in their lives. One major focus in the early research on desistance revolved around the idea that most criminal offending declined with age. However, a great deal of literature has emerged that offers contradictory views regarding age and criminal desistance with discussions suggesting that desistance is prompted through conventional societal bonds such as finding a stable job or marriage. More recent literature acclaims that, it is a self-induced process by offenders to revert back to law abiding behaviour and align themselves into the norms and conventional values within the society.

A potential limitation of this important contribution to the desistance literature is that these studies were entirely based in nations of the global north, with little consideration of how these findings are shaped by western concepts of crime, youth cultures, offending and desistance. Hence, the aim of this research is to explore the struggles and pathways to desistance among young people involved in crime in the Republic of Maldives and also examine ways through which policing interventions can be improved to promote and support young people through desistance process. This research seeks to provide valuable insights to the individual journeys of offenders through a qualitative/exploratory methodology and proposes a desistance based policing paradigm in formulating policing interventions to address the issue of young offending and recidivism.

Given the uniqueness of its social, economic, geographical as well as religious contexts, Conducting desistance research in the Maldives, offer an opportunity to understand current findings of desistance to those of the global south.