Nacro wholeheartedly welcomes the Laming review on the life chances of children in care. Too many young people in the care system come in to contact with the criminal justice system. Too often this is unnecessary and can be responded to in less harmful ways. Nacro’s own research on looked-after children concurs that too many behaviours that are challenging but not criminal, such as shouting, swearing and low-level damage to property, are being referred by staff to police. We agree that better understanding between local authorities and police would make a significant difference on rates of criminal justice interventions, save money and crucially change lives.
It is well known that contact with the criminal justice system can have a detrimental impact on a young person’s life chances. Where possible, this should be avoided. A young person who is in the care of foster parents or in children’s homes should have the same level of support and understanding that any other child growing up in the care of their family would have. Parents wouldn’t call the police over a row with a teenager; the same should happen for young people in care.
We know that people working in the system work tirelessly to support young people under their care. However, the common sense recommendations in this report and in Nacro’s Reducing Offending of Looked After Children research, could make a significant impact to the current unacceptable levels of looked-after young people and adults in the criminal justice system.
Chief Executive, Nacro