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Programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care

Information on the Howard League's work with children in residential care.

The Howard League is undertaking a programme of work to end the criminalisation of children living in residential care. The work is supported by an advisory board.

Prior to launching the programme, the Howard League published an initial scoping briefing in 2016.

The programme’s first briefing was published in July 2017. The briefing paper, which tells the stories of several children supported by the charity, finds that the criminalisation of children in residential care risks compounding a sense of rejection and damaging children’s mental health and emotional well-being.

The second briefing paper, on best practice in policing, was published on 18 December 2017.

We published our third briefing paper on good practice in children’s homes on 16 July 2018.

A fourth briefing paper, telling the stories of four children criminalised while in residential care, was published on 19 December 2018.

A fifth briefing paper, published on 8 July 2019, looks at how the police can use data to monitor and address criminalisation.

We published a guide on representing looked-after children at the police station, in collaboration with the Youth Justice Legal Centre at Just for Kids Law, on 24 September 2019.

Our sixth briefing paper, published on 30 March 2020, examines the intersection between child criminal exploitation and residential care.

The blog

For further updates, reflections and guest posts from young people, academics and practitioners, visit our blog on the programme.

News releases

More focus needed to protect children in residential care from ‘county lines’ criminal exploitation

Guide to help lawyers advocate for looked-after children at the police station

Howard League research finds children’s homes calling the police 200 times a year

‘This is our story’: Children and young people describe how they were criminalised while living in residential care

Howard League report explores good practice in children’s homes

Howard League report explores policing of children’s homes

Criminalisation of children in care should be a “national concern”

Howard League launches Programme to End the Criminalisation of Children in Residential Care

Children and Young People Awards

We are delighted that our programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care won the Youth Justice award at the Children & Young People Now Awards 2018.


A call for written evidence was held in 2017. We are still keen to hear from organisations and individuals who work and are in contact with children in residential care. Information can be sent to

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