Over the last few days some big reports and research linked to youth justice have been published:
A Rights-Based Analysis of Youth Justice in the UK: Unicef (UK) has recently published its report and recommendations following an extensive study into the youth criminal justice system across the United Kingdom. Central to this is that those children who are brought into the legal system are “one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in society”. The report makes 45 recommendations that require implementation if society is to uphold the rights of children who come into contact with the law.
Child arrests in England and Wales in 2019: The Howard League for Penal Reform recently published its annual briefing on child arrests in England and Wales. The Howard League launched its Programme to Reduce Child Arrests in 2010 and its impact has been huge; in 2010 the total number of child arrests was 245,763, whereas in 2019 the number was 71,885. Every police force in England and Wales has reduced their number of child arrests. However, the 2019 figures showed a slight rise, resulting overall in a 2% increase in child arrests nationally, linked to the police response to county lines operations.
Injustice or In Justice: The Children’s Commissioner has published a report on the youth justice system in England. Findings include: half of children sentenced are currently or have been a ‘child in need’; 7 in 10 have identified mental health needs; and, when compared with their peers, children in residential care are at least 13 times more likely to be criminalised. Recommendations include: a significant expansion of early help services, to identify emerging issues and prevent problems from developing; reforms to the court system to make it more child-friendly and reform of the secure care system to allow the flexibility required to respond to children’s needs and support rehabilitation.