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Report calls upon local authorities to abandon “one size fits all” approach to tackling behavioural issues involving children in care

A paper published in the Youth Justice journal and led by Manchester Metropolitan University has called upon local authorities to seek alternative solutions to what it describes as “the unnecessary criminalisation of some of the most vulnerable children and young people in society”.

Analysis of 36 local protocols which were created in response to the government’s non-statutory 2018 National Protocol on Reducing Unnecessary Criminalisation of Looked-after Children and Care Leavers, found that children in residential care are disproportionately more likely to receive a criminal caution or conviction from the police than children who are not in care. The report also suggests that an over reliance on policing in some protocols is ‘baked into’ agreements

The paper also highlights a lack of consideration of the gender and ethnicity of children and “significant differences between the scope and content of individual protocols”.

In their conclusion, the report authors state ‘We must ensure that agreements have the appropriate provisions to divert care-experienced children and young people and provide adequate support for those in trouble. The huge variation in scope and contextual focus of local protocols means that children and young people will not receive the same protections from area to area. The apparent lack of consideration for the needs of specific groups is a serious cause for concern’.

Read the full paper here.

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Published on 22nd March 2023