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Criminal Care? · 22 Jul 2021

Children in residential care now three times less likely to be criminalised

There hasn’t been much good news over the last year and a half, but we’re delighted to report that the latest figures obtained from the Department for Education suggest that children are now three times less likely to be criminalised in residential care than they were when the Howard League started our programme of work on this issue.

Despite the numbers of children looked after continuously for at least 12 months having increased from 4,050 in year ending 31 March 2015 to 5,210 in year ending 31 March 2020, the number of children convicted or subject to a youth caution, including a youth conditional caution, during the year has dramatically fallen.

In March 2014, 610 children (15 per cent) had been criminalised in the previous year and by March 2020, that annual figure had fallen to 280 children (5 per cent).

Real progress can be made

That’s a testament not only to the Howard League’s work on this issue, but the work of many other charities, local authorities, police forces, and children’s homes. Whilst children living in residential care are still disproportionately criminalised compared to other children, these figures show real progress can be made.

You can read more about the fall in criminalisation rates in a press release we’ve put out today, whilst this Twitter thread tells the story of how we came to address the issue of police call-outs to children’s homes in the first place.

Finally, our programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care will be discussed today at an online Howard League ‘In Conversation’ event with Caroline Adams QPM, Staff Officer for the National Children & Young Persons Portfolio at the National Police Chiefs’ Council. Places can be booked via the Howard League website.

Andrew Neilson



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