Policy briefing: Care experience, ethnicity and youth justice involvement - key trends and policy implications
21 September 2023
This briefing is based on descriptive findings from Dr Katie Hunter's ADR UK Research Fellowship project, which focused on understanding the links between care experience, ethnicity, and involvement with the youth justice system in England. This project used the Ministry of Justice & Department for Education linked dataset - England.
In England and Wales, issues of disproportionality in relation to ethnicity and care experience in the youth justice system have been the subject of two major independent reviews:
- the Laming Review in 2016, which looked into youth justice involvement among children in care and care leavers
- the Lammy Review in 2017, which looked into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system.
However, more insight is needed into the overlap between children from ethnic minority backgrounds and children who have been in care. The Ministry of Justice & Department for Education linked dataset - England is a crucial opportunity to enhance understanding and address this gap, in order to support children through local services.
Summary of key findings
The policy briefing details the following key research findings:
- Key Finding 1: Care-experienced children were disproportionately likely to have youth justice involvement compared to those without care experience, with some groups of ethnic minority children being even more likely to have youth justice involvement.
- Key Finding 2: The gap in youth justice involvement between care-experienced children and non-care-experienced children widened over time. This gap widened further still for some groups of ethnic minority children.
- Key Finding 3: Typically, care-experienced children had much more youth justice involvement than non-care-experienced children. Some groups of ethnic minority care- experienced children had even higher levels of youth justice involvement.
- Key Finding 4: A significantly higher proportion of care-experienced children received a custodial sentence compared non-care-experienced children. Custodial sentences were twice as common among Black and Mixed ethnicity care-experienced children compared to White care-experienced children.