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Criminal Care? · 23 Oct 2019

Addressing criminalisation in London’s care system from a lived experience perspective

A few months ago we were fortunate enough to be invited by the care leavers’ support charity Drive Forward to advise and take part in their campaign to address the criminalisation of children in care. The campaign was coordinated by Drive Forward’s Policy Forum, a dynamic group of young adults with lived experience of the care system, many of whom had been criminalised whilst in care. They wanted a London-wide approach to tackling the problem.

The group had engaged with Sophie Linden, the London Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, and with her support they organised a half-day conference at City Hall on 16 September. There was a packed room on the day with representatives from many of the London councils, the Crown Prosecution Service, the police, government departments, the GLA policy teams and the Magistrates’ Association. We provided context to the work with a presentation about our programme findings but the focus of the afternoon was a short film and the testimonies of members of the Policy Forum who had personal experience of being unfairly criminalised whilst in care. The stories of abuse, trauma and injustice were shocking and powerful. No one in the room could have been in any doubt about the need to do better for children in care, or of the importance of listening directly from children and young people.

Delegates were told that to comprehensively decriminalise care requires action from everyone

In her closing remarks, the Deputy Mayor committed to convening partners to ensure every borough has a strategy to address this issue. All attendees were invited to sign an End of Conference Agreement that listed key asks/actions relevant to each represented institution. We hope to be involved in meetings taking this work forward.

To read Drive Forward’s blog about the event and to find out more about this impressive project, click here.

Claire Sands


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