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Children’s sector leaders call for Youth Justice system overhaul

Service, strategic and political leaders in local government have called for a move towards a more localised, responsive and child-centred youth justice system in the future.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) have joined the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) in a proposal that calls for a new approach drawing on issues and challenges as well as opportunities for meaningful change.

The Paper identifies a series of quick wins to improve children’s experiences and outcomes including better information sharing between police and local authorities, changes to court arrangements and a long overdue review of the age of criminal responsibility in the UK, which at 10 years old is the lowest in Europe.

Adopting a public health approach to youth justice and childhood vulnerability, focussing on the journey of the child rather than departmental boundaries in order to prevent children falling through the gaps, is the principle long term ask.

Charlotte Ramsden, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said: “Children who are in conflict with the law continue to be treated very differently to other vulnerable groups even though they have similarly complex needs."

“We need to work differently with children, their families and communities, and agencies, including government departments must work differently too, under the banner of a single, cross cutting strategy. We must improve the experiences and outcomes of children who are already in the system whilst acting on the reasons why children are more susceptible to crime, such as poverty and deprivation. We simply cannot carry on as we are.”

Read the full proposal here.