The Howard League for Penal Reform is undertaking a programme of work to end the criminalisation of children living in residential care. Their initial scoping briefing, published in 2016, investigated how children living in children’s homes are being criminalised at excessively high rates compared to other boys and girls, including those in other types of care.
It suggested that there is a systemic problem across England and Wales that leads staff to resort to the police, often over minor incidents that would never come to officers’ attention if they happened in family homes.
The programme’s first briefing, published in 2017, told the stories of several children supported by the charity. It found that the criminalisation of children in residential care risks compounding a sense of rejection and damaging children’s mental health and emotional well-being.
A fourth briefing paper, telling the stories of four children criminalised while in residential care, was published in 2018.
The League’s blog on the programme contains updates, reflections and guest posts from young people, academics and practitioners.