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Criminal Care? · 6 Sep 2018

News about our work on criminalisation and residential care

After a brief hiatus over August, this blog is back up and running and we’re raring to explore more topics and hear from more voices in and around the residential care sector.

We also have some exciting news as our programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care has received funding to extend its work for another two years. This will allow us to do more in-depth analysis of relevant issues and capitalise on some of the momentum we have generated of late. We hope to publish a series of further briefing papers, work with more young people and run various events around the country. It also means this blog is not going anywhere soon!

It therefore feels like a good moment to re-cap on what we’ve achieved over the last couple of years: the programme’s impact has been far-reaching, encouraging improvements in national policy and practice, including ongoing work by the Department for Education and a commitment by Ofsted to examine the issue of criminalisation in more detail.

We want to see real, lasting impact.

Since our programme of work began, Ofsted now collects data on police call-outs from children’s homes on its pre-inspection questionnaire; police forces have improved data recording and practices; children’s homes have begun implementing strategies to reduce criminalisation; and the issue has been raised up the agenda of local authorities.

There are no quick fixes for this complex problem, however. We want to see real, lasting impact and it takes time to achieve this. Extending our programme means we can build on the work we’ve already done and push to further improve practices in police forces, local authorities and children’s homes, so that the change we see happening becomes embedded in organisations and improvements are made for the long-term.

We will carry on lobbying and campaigning with children’s homes providers, the police, local authorities, the government and others to raise awareness and push for improvements to practice. Our work will continue to be informed by children and young people who have lived in residential care and who have first-hand, expert knowledge on what causes criminalisation and what can be done to prevent it.

We will also be following up on the data summit we held in July to improve data collection and enable long-term monitoring of criminalisation levels. We have other plans too, which we’re keeping under our hats for now but which we’ll certainly be blogging about in the future.

Finally, we are also pleased to say that our programme of work has been shortlisted in the Youth Justice Category of the Children & Young People Now Awards. We’re delighted to receive this recognition alongside so many other people and organisations working in the sector.

Andrew Neilson and Claire Sands


  • Norma Hornby says:

    Norma Hornby.
    Are you involved in addressing young people in care and the risk from’ county lines’ please?

    • Andrew Neilson says:

      Dear Norma – we are. County lines is an area of work we hope to look at in much more detail next year. Let me know if it would be helpful for us to contact you directly about this.

  • Jonathan says:

    What work are you doing on unregulated provision ?

    • Andrew Neilson says:

      Dear Jonathan – we are definitely looking at unregulated provision, as we are aware of the widespread concerns. Part of the problem is pinning down precisely what is happening but we hope to do this as part of our work next year. If you have any insight you’d like to share, we can get in touch with you.

  • Rachel Cook says:

    Keen to engage where possible to support this approach in Humberside. We’ve been piloting use of restorative practice as a means of supporting care hone staff and children with dealing with problems more effectively and reducing risk of potential for criminalisation. Keen to learn of other approaches.

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