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Criminal Care? · 19 Dec 2019

2019 in review

We’re coming to the end of the year and this is an opportunity to look at what the programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care has tackled over the course of 2019.

The big news is that we have seen a drop in the Department for Education’s official figures on criminalisation. The proportion of children formally criminalised while in residential care was reduced from 15 per cent to 10 per cent between 2014 and 2018. We have to put a health warning on these figures as they only cover children continuously in care for twelve months or more – which excludes over 40 per cent of children in the care system in the course of a year. Nonetheless, this is a real achievement for our programme and for all those who have worked to reduce the criminalisation of children in residential care.

We published two briefings this year. Know Your Numbers, looked at how the police can use data to monitor and tackle criminalisation in children’s homes. The briefing analyses the reduction in rates of criminalisation mentioned above. In the autumn, we published a step-by-step guide for lawyers and other professionals, in collaboration with the Youth Justice Legal Centre at Just for Kids Law, on representing looked-after children at the police station.

The proportion of children formally criminalised while in residential care was reduced from 15 per cent to 10 per cent over five years

2019 saw the programme receive some welcome publicity, including coverage on Channel 4 News and BBC Radio 4’s File on Four. And the Howard League supported one young woman to tell her story about experiences in unregulated accommodation, which kicked off a series of films on BBC 2’s Newsnight and has led to widespread calls for regulation in this sector.

Our expertise in the area of children and policing has seen us make a range of presentations to different audiences around the country. There have also been a number of submissions to various inquiries and consultations. The most recent of these is a strategic review of policing in England and Wales, being conducted by the Police Foundation. Our submission discusses our work on residential care, our broader work on reducing child arrests, and new work which colleagues at the Howard League are conducting on arresting the entry of women into the criminal justice system.

Finally, we’ve also published thirty posts on this blog – covering the many issues we haven’t been able to squeeze into our actual publications. We’re grateful to all the guests who have posted for us in 2019 – including academics, practitioners and young people themselves.

In early 2020 we will be publishing a briefing on the intersection between child criminal exploitation and residential care. We also have some other plans, so watch this space.

In the meantime, we wish our readers a happy Christmas and hope to see you all in the New Year.

Andrew Neilson


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