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Calls for wide-ranging review of the criminal records system to support youth justice reforms

The Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) has highlighted the damage being done by the childhood criminal record system and calls for widescale reform

The SCYJ, a national alliance of 60 charities and youth organisations, has warned that plans set out by the Youth Justice Board to tackle disproportionality throughout the youth justice system, develop a ‘child first’ approach to its work, and improve links between custody and resettlement will be difficult to achieve without reform to the criminal record system.

In a briefing published recently, SCYJ note a particular concern about the added burden that criminal records bring to the livelihoods of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) young people who are already discriminated against on the basis of race, and how these multiple discriminations create barriers that impact access to education, employment, housing, and healthcare.

Pippa Goodfellow, Director of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, said:

“The Youth Justice Board have set out welcome ambitions for a youth justice system that sees children as children first, as well as commitments to address racial disparity, the impact of violence and exploitation. But criminal records in their current form actively impede all attempts to encourage young people to move on from past mistakes and reach their full potential.

“Criminal records continue to entrench racial disparity and disadvantage, which the government has committed to address – a comprehensive review of the system has transformative potential as a vital tool in addressing these issues, in line with the Lammy Review principle of ‘explain or reform’.

“The criminal records system also fails to recognise child development, or the complex factors that lead to a child becoming entangled with the law, often as a result of being victims of crime or being exploited themselves.

Read the full briefing here.