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Three quarters of children on remand did not receive custodial sentence

Almost three quarters of children remanded to custody did not receive a prison term following sentencing.

Ministry of Justice figures revealed that three quarters of children who spent time in prison on remand went on to receive a non-custodial outcome – 8% point higher when compared with the previous year in outcomes which did not result in a custodial sentence.

Of the outcomes which did not result in a custodial sentence, half resulted in a non-custodial sentence and half resulted in acquittal.

“Children on remand made up the highest proportion of the custodial population for the first time. Children spent an average of over two weeks longer on remand than the previous year. This is likely due to limits on court activity, including pauses to jury trials and the subsequent backlog of cases,” said the report.

The average number of children held on remand accounted for 40% of all children in youth custody, the largest proportion in the last ten years and nine percentage points higher than the previous year. A contributing factor is likely to be court closures and subsequent backlogs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were around 15,300 remand episodes and 82% were bail remands, with youth detention accommodation remands accounting for 11%, and the remaining 7% being community remands with intervention.

The average number of children in custody on remand has decreased for each ethnic group, except for children from an Asian or Other background, which increased by an average of five. The proportion that ethnic minority groups comprised increased from 57% to 60% in the last year. This is the highest proportion in the last ten years and compares to 41% ten years ago.

• Over the last ten years the proportion of children from a White background remanded in youth custody has seen a general downward trend, falling from 59% to 40%, the lowest level in the last 10 years.

• Children from a Mixed ethnic background account for 14% of those remanded in youth custody in the latest year, which is the same as the previous year but double compared to 10 years ago (7%).

• The proportion of children from an Asian or Other background rose to 12%, from 9% in the previous year. This proportion has fluctuated between 8% and 13% over the last 10 years.

The report also revealed the number of children who received a caution or sentence has fallen by 17% in the last year with an 82% decrease over the last 10 years. There were 8,800 first time entrants to the youth justice system – a figure which has fallen by 20% since the previous year, with an 81% fall from the year ending March 2011.

There was a 21% decrease in proven knife and offensive weapon offences committed by children compared with the previous year.

The number of children in custody has fallen to its lowest level – there was an average of 560 children in custody at any one time during the year, a fall of 28% against the previous year.

Re-offending also fell to its lowest level decreasing by 3.6 percentage points in the last year and 4.1 percentage points from the year ending March 2010. This was the sixth consecutive year on year fall.

Youth Justice Statistics 2020/21

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