Youth justice system
Over the past ten years, the demands on the youth justice system have changed significantly.
The number of children and young people (aged 10-17) entering the youth justice system has fallen, but although fewer are entering the system, the cohort has become more concentrated on those with complex needs.
Young offenders tend to be imprisoned for much more serious offences than used to be the case and sentences are getting longer.
Proven reoffending rates (within one year) for children are significantly higher than for adults.
Whilst significantly fewer children enter the youth justice system, the rate of children from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds is not decreasing at the same pace as for white children.
The Lammy Review
The Committee took evidence in March 2019 from David Lammy MP on his independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for BAME individuals in the criminal justice system.
The Lammy Review raised significant concerns about race disproportionality in the youth justice system and this is a continuing issue as half of young offenders in custody are now BAME individuals.
The Taylor Review, published in 2016, made several recommendations for extensive reform of the youth justice system, including the development of secure schools.
Following the Taylor Review, the Government set out plans to reform the approach to youth justice.
Purpose of the inquiry
The Committee’s inquiry will consider the progress the Government has made in implementing the recommendations of the Taylor Review and reforming the approach to youth justice.
Effectiveness of custodial provision for children and young people examined
Chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, said:
“The Committee was concerned to see that the Chief Inspector triggered the Urgent Notification protocol on Wednesday for HMYOI Feltham A.
All children and young people should be held in a safe and secure environment and this inquiry will look at whether this is the case across the youth secure estate.
Youth reoffending rates are far too high and outcomes for BAME groups are worse than for white children.
These things raise serious questions about the effectiveness of custodial provision for children and young people.
We want to see that the Government has a clear plan to deal with these issues.
We will be scrutinising these issues in depth and will carry out our inquiry over three phases.
Our focus will be on the youth justice population, suitability of the secure estate, and the resettlement and rehabilitation of children and young people.
We will publish a report after each stage and hope to conclude our work next year.”
Send us your views
The Committee invites written evidence submissions on some or all of the following points via the Committee’s website by 1 October 2019.
Please use the written submission form to send us your views.
The Youth Justice Population and entering the system
How has the young offender population changed and what are the challenges in managing this group?
a) What are the characteristics of those entering the youth justice system and how has the mix of offences committed by young people changed?
b) What is the experience of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic offenders of the youth justice system and secure estate and what progress has been made in implementing the recommendations of the Lammy Review?
c) How effective is the youth justice system in diverting children and young people away from custody and what more needs to be done?
d) Is the current minimum age of criminal responsibility too low and should it be raised?
Suitability of the Secure Estate
Is the secure estate a fit and proper place to hold children and young people?
a) What impact has the changing nature of the population had on the management of the secure estate?
b) What does a good quality custodial place for a child or young person look like and is there sufficient provision across England and Wales?
c) What is the physical condition of the secure estate and is it an appropriate environment to hold children and young people?
d) Do staff receive appropriate training and support and what more can be done to improve this?
e) What other barriers are there to providing safe and decent accommodation in the secure estate and what more can be done to improve this?
f) Is the use of force in the secure estate proportionate and properly monitored?
g) How does the experience of children and young adults differ across the different types of secure custody and what lessons can be learnt ahead of the opening of the new secure schools?
Resettlement and rehabilitation children and young people
Is sufficient support available in the secure estate and community to ensure that children and young people do not reoffend and if not, what more should be done?
a) Are children and young people able to access purposeful activity, education, healthcare and other support as needed whilst in custody?
b) Is there good collaboration between the secure state, Youth Offending Teams, Local Authorities, Social Services and other relevant organisations?
c) Is there effective release planning to ensure that children and young people have access to accommodation, training and education upon release and what more can be done to ensure they do not reoffend?
d) What mechanisms exist to transition young people from the youth to the young adult/adult estate? What challenges does this raise and is more support required?