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Publications · Young People

Victims not Criminals: Protecting children living in residential care from criminal exploitation

Ending the criminalisation of children in residential care. Briefing six

Cover page of Vicitms not criminals report
  • ISBN: 978-1-911114-42-0

  • Published: 2020

  • Pages: 8

  • Publisher: The Howard League for Penal Reform

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Victims not Criminals: Protecting children living in residential care from criminal exploitation

This is the sixth briefing from the Howard League’s programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care.

Significant progress has been made in reducing the criminalisation of children in residential care since the Howard League exposed the issue in 2016. Despite this progress, people involved in crime, including those operating “county lines”, are taking advantage of failings in children’s social care and central government oversight to exploit and abuse children in residential care.

This briefing, based on extensive research with several hundred people with knowledge of the children’s residential care sector and/or child criminal exploitation, considers how children in residential care are being criminalised for offences they are committing as a direct result of child criminal exploitation (CCE).

It highlights concerns about the high level of risk of exploitation and abuse by gangs and criminal networks to which children living in residential care are being exposed. It concludes that the current structure of the residential children’s homes sector and the lack of central government oversight and control is putting children in danger and enabling the spread of exploitation and criminality around the country.

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