A new campaign to reduce the criminalisation of children in care and care leavers across England and Wales has been launched by NYAS.
Care-experienced children currently make up half of those placed in youth custody while children in care in England are six times more likely than other young people to be cautioned or convicted of a crime.
The ‘Trouble with the Law’ campaign urges all Police and Crime Commissioner candidates to recognise and support care-experienced children and young people.
Rita Waters, NYAS Group Chief Executive, said “Police and Crime Commissioners have a unique and vast opportunity to change young people’s lives for the better. For too long, care-experienced children and young people have been more likely than their peers to be in contact with the criminal justice system. We are asking candidates to pledge to work with young people for a better future.”
NYAS’ campaign highlights how care-experienced young people are often overlooked in local police and crime plans. The work of Police and Crime Commissioners can have a huge impact on the most vulnerable children, and the campaign states that it is critical that plans are made to support them.
Around one in four of all identified or suspected child victims of trafficking across the UK were missing from care. The campaign aims to achieve a child-centred approach to policing, where victims of exploitation are protected and supported, not criminalised.
The Trouble with the Law campaign urges candidates to sign up to the following pledges to:
1. Work to keep care-experienced young people out of the criminal justice system.
2. Never make policies about young people, without young people.
3. Protect victims of exploitation and missing children.
4. Campaign to end the life-long stigma of criminal records.
NYAS Cymru chairs a National Steering Group called ‘Missing the Point’ which brings together key stakeholders across Wales to develop an approach to policing with focuses on children’s rights.
Sharon Lovell, NYAS Cymru Chief Executive, said “I am encouraged by the level of commitment shown by Welsh Government, local authorities, the Youth Justice Board, third sector and all four Police Commissioners in Wales to reduce the criminalisation of young people in care; yet we need to do more. We have to provide every opportunity for young people in care to be protected from harm, receive preventative services, have a statutory right to a return interview whenever they go missing and be equal partners in shaping services in the future.”
The campaign can be followed on Twitter @NYASServices #TroubleWithTheLaw