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In Care, Out of Trouble

This review was established to examine the reasons for, and how best to tackle, the over representation of children in care, or with experience of care, in the criminal justice system in England and Wales.

 Some findings include:

  • Great emphasis should be placed on early life experiences. Guidance and support through pregnancy and during the early months of parenthood should be available to all who need it.
  • Good parenting entails a lifetime commitment.
  • Investing in childhood is more than a nice thing to do. It has a real value that goes beyond the child as it facilitates the future wellbeing of society.
  • Meeting many young people in custodial institutions demonstrates all too clearly the gaps in their social development and in their basic education.
  • The staff in these establishments need to be equipped to demonstrate a mixture of sound professional skills and impressive personal qualities.
  • They deserve good training, proper supervision and support.
  • the performance of the most senior officers, and their tenure, should be judged against the quality and effectiveness of the work for children, not least in the success of the good collaboration between different services.

 These are the outcomes they wish to see:

  • The work must be driven by strong and determined leadership at national and local levels, taking a strategic multi-agency approach to protecting children in care against criminalisation. This needs to be underpinned by better data collection so as to improve services for children and families, especially those at risk.
  • We want to see consistent, early support for children and families and, where necessary, good parenting by the state.
  • It is important to investigate and address the needs of minority groups of looked after children who are at risk of involvement in the criminal justice system.
  • There must be more effective joint working between families, local authorities, youth offending services, child and adolescent mental health services, the police and other criminal justice agencies leading to substantially improved opportunities for preventing the criminalisation of looked after children and diverting them from the criminal justice system wherever possible. Where this cannot be done, looked after children deserve proper support and fair treatment throughout the criminal justice process.
  • Lastly, young people leaving care are vulnerable and must have more consistent support.

 See more here.