The Trouble With Girls – Jailbirds

Teenaged girls and young women in Britain today are behaving worse than ever before. Figures show that girls under the age of 18 are committing nearly 40 per cent more crimes than they were in 2002/03 and are beginning to catch up with boys in their levels of violence and theft. Binge-drinking is at an all-time high and Britain continues to have the highest teen pregnancy figures in Western Europe.

This two-part observational documentary series tells the stories of several girls from across the country, focusing on the real people behind some of the statistics.

Filmed over six months, tonight’s film follows the lives of 20-year-old Shona from Doncaster and 17-year-old Abbie from York – two young women who are finding it difficult to stay clear of the criminal justice system. Both have been arrested dozens of times and imprisoned three times.

Filming begins as Shona comes to the end of her probation period and as Abbie moves into a hostel, following her release from a Young Offenders’ Institution for Girls.

The young women want to “go straight” and sort their lives out. However, it’s not as easy as either hopes. Abbie’s drinking and partying lifestyle means that, within days of her release, she has breached her electronic tag order and is missing appointments with her Youth Offending Team. Meanwhile, Shona is soon shoplifting again.

Binge-drinking, drug-taking, trips to court and packing for prison have become a normal way of life for Shona and Abbie. They are given second chances to turn their lives around and seem happier for it. However, good intentions quickly unravel and the prospect of prison looms large again.

While Shona and Abbie may seem tough on the surface, between them, they struggle to cope with difficult relationships with their parents, low self-esteem, homelessness and the reality of job-hunting with a criminal past. Sometimes, it appears that life in prison is a preferable option to life on the outside.

Monday 3 August
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWO