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Tackling Care Experienced Youth Crime

Despite being disproportionately overrepresented in the criminal justice system, care experienced young people continue to be overlooked in police and crime plans across England and Wales.

To tackle this youth crime inequality, NYAS’ Trouble with the Law campaign calls on all Police and Crime Commissioner candidates to recognise vulnerable children and young people within their election campaigns across England and Wales.

The work of Police and Crime Commissioners has a huge impact on the most vulnerable children, including those in care. Our Trouble With The Law campaign demonstrates how critical the inclusion of these young people is within national crime plans to improve youth crime prevention amongst this demographic.

Care Experienced Youth Crime in England and Wales: The Facts

As noted above, care experienced young people are overrepresented in youth crime across England and Wales. In preparation for this campaign, NYAS discovered the following youth crime facts:

  • Care experienced children make up 50% of those placed in youth custody.
  • The police in England and Wales received 23,000 callouts from children’s homes during 2018.
  • In 2017, 27% of all identified or suspected trafficked children went missing from care.
  • A recent case review into the shooting of a 14-year-old boy determined that because of perceived gang involvement, professionals failed to identify him as a victim rather than a criminal.
  • As of May 2020, over 50% of children held in custody were from Black, Asian, and ethnic minority backgrounds.
  • 75% of employers in the UK admit they would discriminate against young people who disclose their criminal record at an early stage.
  • In Surrey, the introduction of a youth restorative intervention programme has seen a 92% decrease in first time entrants to the youth justice system.
  • Over the last ten years, the average custodial sentence length given to children increased by more than six months, from 11.4 to 17.7 months.
  • The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has indicated that the age of 12 should be the ‘absolute minimum’ age at which children become criminally liable for their behaviour. Across England and Wales, children can be criminally prosecuted from the age of 10.

Youth Crime Prevention

NYAS’ Trouble with the Law campaign is calling on all Police and Crime Commissioners as well as mayors with policing responsibilities for their support. 

We are asking these figures of authorities to pledge their commitment to supporting care experienced children and young people, by considering them in their plans to tackle youth crime. 

Any decisions and changes that these individuals make will have a huge impact on vulnerable children, so their commitment will be vital to the success of our campaign, and improved opportunities for children and young people in care across England and Wales.

With this in mind, we are asking Police and Crime Commissioners and relevant mayors to commit to the following promises: 

  1. To work to keep care experienced young people out of the criminal justice system.
  2. To never make policies about them, without them.
  3. To protect victims of exploitation and missing children.
  4. To campaign to end the life-long stigma of criminal records.

Trouble With the Law Submissions

Our full pledge request letters were sent to all Police and Crime Commissioner candidates (as well as other relevant roles) across England and Wales in April 2021. These letters were sent in order to protect care experienced young people from a life of crime and exploitation.

The Trouble with the Law Briefing for the Police and Crime Commissioner is available to read for both England and Wales. The Welsh version is also available to read in a Welsh translation. This briefing highlights key statistics associated with youth crime, and how Police and Crime Commissioners can tackle youth crime within their plans.

If you want to get involved with this campaign, you can share your support across social media using #TroubleWithTheLaw.

You can also explore NYAS’ full range of current campaigns, as well as our previous campaigns, to see the impact our efforts are having on policy and legislation for children and young people in care across England and Wales.

If you want to support our campaigning efforts, or have an experience you want to share with us, feel free to get in touch with our friendly NYAS team.

Got More Questions?

If you have further questions about this campaign, please get in touch with our policy and research team and they will be happy to help.

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