NYAS has today launched a new campaign to reduce the criminalisation of children in care and care leavers across England and Wales. The ‘Trouble with the Law’ campaign urges all Police and Crime Commissioner candidates to recognise and support children care-experienced children and young people.

At present, care-experienced children make up half of those placed in youth custody. Children in care in England are six times more likely than other young people to be cautioned or convicted of a crime. Despite this, NYAS’ campaign highlights how care-experienced young people are often overlooked in local police and crime plans. The work of Police and Crime Commissioners can have a huge impact on the most vulnerable children, and the campaign demonstrates how critical it is that plans are made to support them.

Across the UK, around one in four of all identified or suspected child victims of trafficking were missing from care. The campaign seeks a child-centred approach to policing, where victims of exploitation are protected and supported, not criminalised.

The campaign asks candidates to sign up to the following pledges to:

1. Work to keep care-experienced young people out of the criminal justice system.
2. Never make policies about young people, without young people.
3. Protect victims of exploitation and missing children.
4. Campaign to end the life-long stigma of criminal records.

Rita Waters, NYAS Group Chief Executive, said “Police and Crime Commissioners have a unique and vast opportunity to change young people’s lives for the better. For too long, care-experienced children and young people have been more likely than their peers to be in contact with the criminal justice system. We are asking candidates to pledge to work with young people for a better future.”

NYAS Cymru chairs a National Steering Group called “Missing the Point” which brings together key stakeholders across Wales to develop a child’s rights approach to policing. Sharon Lovell, NYAS Cymru Chief Executive, said “I am encouraged by the level of commitment shown by Welsh Government, local authorities, the Youth Justice Board, third sector and all four Police Commissioners in Wales to reduce the criminalisation of young people in care; yet we need to do more. We have to provide every opportunity for young people in care to be protected from harm, receive preventative services, have a statutory right to a return interview whenever they go missing and be equal partners in shaping services in the future.”

You can follow our campaign and check if your local Police Commissioner candidates have signed our pledges by visiting our Trouble with the Law tracker here.

If you’re a Police and Crime Commissioner candidate in the 2021 election and would like to sign up to our pledges, please contact Joshua.williams@nyas.net

Follow the campaign on Twitter @NYASServices #TroubleWithTheLaw